What a year, 2011 was our best year so far; with solid growth through most of it. There were significant challenges throughout the year; but I continue to be grateful to all our customers who have made this possible.
Sales & Categories
We continue to be a board game store primarily – the vat majority of our revenue and inventory is devoted to board games. However, we’ve seen a strong increase in our sale of accessories and the introduction of RPGs has added a new category that seems to be doing really well. We did introduce a few CCGs and miniatures; but so far; it’s not been something that has taken. We’re likely to dump our stock of CCGs very soon; and I’m on the fence of our (limited) miniature support.
The Postal Strike
I did say sales was good through most of the year – the Postal Strike being the obvious exception. We certainly saw quite a drop both before; during and even slightly after the Strike. On the other hand, the Strike was the impetus for the addition of FedEx as a shipping provider and while the % of orders that ship via FedEx has been low; its addition is a nice back-up. Recent checks on the cost though has had us remove the Free Shipping option for FedEx entirely – it’s way too expensive to offer profitably.
This was the year of hiring it seemed. We added Kaja as a full-time employee in the last 6 months of the year or so; and then proceeded to realise that we needed another full-time employee. We’re once again in the process of looking for a full-time employee as Pierson unfortunately had to leave for personal reasons. What hiring new employees also meant that we had to review our processes completely – what worked for myself alone or with Kaja doesn’t work with 2 full-time employees. We’re still in the process of changing the processes to ensure things run smoothly with 3 of us in the store now.
What it does mean that with new employees, I was able to focus on the website a lot more and start making some real changes. Some of the changes are rather obvious (Quantity buttons in the front, Pre-Order information pages, etc); others are less so but all are things I’ve been wanting to get done for a while.
Perhaps the biggest addition this year for customers has been the introduction of our video reviews. The reviews seem to have been well received; and we’ll begin shooting mid-January. We’re hoping with that, we should have some reviews available by end-January at least.
So, what next? It’s hard to say right now. We’re still paying off all our bills from the Christmas-period which means any future plans are going to wait. The goal of course it to update the site, redesign it a bit more to make it easier to navigate and of course keep the video reviews going. Beyond that; this looks to be a year to focus on trimming our costs and working on efficiencies in-house. There’s a lot of things that need to be done; and a lot of it could be done faster, easier and more accurately with some process changes it seems. It just means hunkering down and figuring out how – and what new technologies we need to invest. in.