The lie of the infinite shelf space

It’s that time of year again, when stock from GenCon & Spiel starts arriving in droves and we end up wondering where we are going to keep all these games till Christmas. Right now, we’ve got a ton of games just sitting on the floor waiting to be sold; stocked up for the holiday season because we know we won’t get anymore.

It’s not just shelf-space of course, it’s also inventory capital that gets limited. We scramble to find sufficient capital to stock up for Christmas, knowing that we’ll sell through most of these in a few months and probably reduce our stock significantly afterwards.

And that’s the lie of omission right there. Not every game will hit the shelf..

Oh, everyone knows this on one level or another. However, it’s not something that’s ever said to publishers, and it’s certainly not something B&M Stores trumpet. After all, one of their major arguments is that they provide a space for customers to physically see and sometimes demo games. However, if a game doesn’t hit the shelf (i.e. is never bought); it will never be demo’ed. And B&M stores are much more limited than online stores in their ability to purchase and stock a wide variety of games.

Why? It’s actually quite simple.

Firstly, most online stores end up specialising (CCGs, Board Games, Miniatures); allowing them to go in-depth into one category. We are mostly a board games store; with a slowly expanding RPG & Miniatures section. On any given day, we have over 2,000+ board games in-stock.

Secondly, our shelf space is cheaper. Our online shelf space (a product page) is negligible in cost; while the physical space is physically cheaper to rent. So we don’t have to optimise revenue per foot as tightly as a B&M.

Thirdly, we have a wider audience base. We often end-up with the customers who no longer can find the games they want from their local B&M store. Those with exotic or disparate taste. So we can afford to take chances on less well known games, bringing in 1 or 2 copies on the off-chance that they’d sell.