2013 – the Year of the Pre-Order

I try to write a ‘Year in Review’ post at the end of each year.  Often, I never get around to doing it because life gets too busy and once I find the time, it’s June of the next year.  So, here’s hoping I can get this done…

The Year of the Pre-Order

Kaja named 2013 the Year of the Pre-Order.  We keep a list of unique orders (not including combined orders, etc) of orders awaiting shipping due to backordered / pre-ordered items.  Generally that list is in the low 100’s (or less!) but this year, we struggled to keep it beneath 200.  You can guess the usual suspects – Alien Artifacts, Tumblin’ Dice, Robinson Crusoe, Pandemic, X-Wing, Terra Mystica, the Resistance, Hanabi, etc.

Quite literally, the publishers could not keep up with demand.  A game would release and it’d go immediately into back-order.  We’d sit waiting for months for games to release as release dates were pushed back and back or insufficient number of copies were printed.  I’m sure it was frustrating for publishers too, but for us, it was just a killer especially during Christmas.

Investing for the Future

2013 was also about investing for the future.  We moved to a new, much larger warehouse which costs (painfully) more.  It meant adding hours to our part-time employees as I had to (for personal reasons) reduce the number of hours I worked.  It meant upgrading aspects of the site to handle future loads.

It meant launching the new business and dedicating funds and time to it, time that we were short on already.  We spent a lot of money in 2013 investing for future growth, building out shelving and adding things like carts and work tables in the warehouse, and hopefully it’ll play out right.

Plans for the Future

2014 should be interesting.   The exchange rate has grown significantly worst in 2013, pushing up from about 1.02 to 1.07.  We don’t expect to see it drop beneath 1.05 anytime soon, so our margins have grown worst.  It’s something we can plan for, and we’re hoping we won’t need to adjust our prices but we shall have to see.

Canada Post is raising their parcel rates again.  That makes Free Shipping even more expensive.  It already costs us about $18 (including box & packing cost) on average for each order to go out.  I expect it’ll go up again.  We’ll have to see if we have to adjust our threshold to meet it, it’s hard to say but if margins get squeezed on both ends it makes things tough.

At the same time, it looks like we should be investing in more miniatures.  That means more shelves and dollars in stock, but the demand seems to be there from our customers.  The question of course is which line and how deep.  I’m going to have to spend some time figuring out which miniature lines we should have more stock of as well.

Lastly, we’ve got a major headache with how we’re dealing with stock.  It’s a backend thing, but if fixed it should reduce stock outages and increase overall stock accuracy.  Of course that will cost more funds…