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Ch-Ch-Changes. Pleasing your best audience

*Note: This is kind of a ramble about adapting in business and being open to change.

For any folks that have been patient enough to follow the Pocket Sports journey (thanks by the way), you've seen the style and packaging change from the simple branded & coloured dice pouch to the more retail appropriate tuck box with cards and cubes.

The changeover was on advice from large retailers and people in the games industry a lot longer than I to make a more presentable, secure product to display on shelves for brick & mortar stores. Fair enough.

It took a lot of work to redesign and incorporate new components to apease the previous pouch game buyers and win them over with the newer designs as they thought the 'pouch' was an integral part of the Pocket Sports point of difference.

Earlier this year, I attended the retail/wholesale expo in Melbourne and most of those people who gave advice stopped by to see the new style of games. Overall, most people liked the tuck box style although some did comment it was a shame the pouches had gone.

So, tick on the newer style. So what's the problem?

The newer packaging costs more to produce, but the sales / rewards are not materializing with the tuck boxes. Buyers like them, but want the old price. Our biggest buyers in the UK have no differential pricing on pouch or box style.

It seems moving back to our core audience with a new / old business model makes sense....and that means reconsidering whether we are indeed a 'retail' product, or most likely an online product.

Yesterday on the Pocket Sports website, I wrote a blog post on this subject asking previous customers their thoughts and 100% of the feedback has been to bring back the pouch.

Going back to the older style would have plenty of upside. Cost less to produce, easier to pack and slightly lighter to ship.

The downside would be those retailers who insist on the 'retail ready' packaging.....mind you, not having to deal with them means not having to pass on a 50% wholesale price, so that's kind of a plus :)

A solution will be to have the 'classic' pouch version brought back online for the original price and have the cards that come in the game as add ons. Then retain the tuck box stock for fancy pants wholesalers and B&M stores!

Ah...the joys of (trying) to run an indie games business. If you read down this far, thank you! If you'd like to share a comment, it'd be most welcomed.

Comments

Wow that result seems "suckey"...

IDK but I find those "issues" to be rather disappointing.

I mean I get the appeal of the pouch/bags for dice is practical. But it sucks major if you have cards. It seems very "gimmicky" (the pouch). Like I said it leans nice if you only have dice...

Having CARDS leans towards having more CONTENT. Like instead of Rugby just having TWO (2) teams - you could buy an "expansion" of 10 teams for example. Same goes with all the other sports like Racing, Boxing, Golf, Baseball, Cricket, etc. The list goes on-and-on and those kind of boosters are relatively easy to produce (with Hamish's Graphic Artistry talents).

So the boxes are better for cards and retail. Seems rather discouraging to be cutting part of operations just because of format.

Perhaps if you explained the benefits of BOXES over POUCHES, people would better understand: cards in pouches = not good (will get bent and folded in shipping alone). Even personal transport can lead to issues.

You spent good money on designing sleeves for the cards...

It's a dilemma I would hate to have. Why? Because it's "suckey" IMHO!

Note: I would "explore" TGC for creating 10 card boosters. They even have a sort of "booster" format and can do one-off production. But then again if you ONLY sold on the Internet - maybe you could sell "booster" packs of TEAMS/Expansions.

I know we've talked about that before... The wanting to deliver MORE content - is my key driver. You'd have to examine the profitability of such a move - because making an expansion is a business decision! :)

Cheers!

All options will still be

All options will still be available....but chasing bigger retail at more cost and no significant gain, is as you say 'suckey'.

More content in my mind also means a better product, however, making business decisions means looking at what best suits the business. It's ok to dream about every expansion under the sun, but in reality, to be sustainable means not overspending on things that aren't required.

Cards sleeves were a one off 'friendship' run and cost $50 for 1000, so they'll still be useful as the add on option with the cards themselves.

The issue is chasing retail shelf space, at 50% wholesale price, I need to sell 100% more volume. If that isn't happening, then sticking to online at a more attractive price point is a more viable option.

So suckey it may be, but if the people want the pouch, it'd be suckey for me to ignore that :)

This made me think of my own

This made me think of my own copy of Hive. It has a great pouch, but it ALSO came in a retail ready package.

Is it possible to do both? Would retail customers be willing to pay slightly more for the additional packaging?

That's a worthwhile idea, as

That's a worthwhile idea, as I typically keep my copy of Hive in the box (tiles in the pouch), but travel with it in the pouch only. Both have their uses, and for a small series like Pocket Sports, it makes sense to that end.

My copy of Love Letter in the other hand sits in its pouch, and is a bit tougher to shelve than if it were in an outer box.

anonymousmagic wrote:This

anonymousmagic wrote:
This made me think of my own copy of Hive. It has a great pouch, but it ALSO came in a retail ready package.

Is it possible to do both? Would retail customers be willing to pay slightly more for the additional packaging?

It can certainly be an option for online buyers. The point I'm trying is that we can't please all the people (distributors/wholesalers/direct consumers) all the time.

Our biggest spike in sales and buyers come between Aug-Dec. They've indicated they want the bag style as they have sold this for the past 3 years.

So we'll accommodate them and still have the remaining 'next gen' versions direct from our website.

I'm confused?!?!

People who want the BAG/POUCH are ONLINE consumers, no?

And people who want BOXES are RETAILERS around the your area, right?

"Next Gen" versions = BOXES or POUCHES??? I though the "Next Gen" versions were going to be the BOXED versions, am I incorrect???

I like the tuck box in terms

I like the tuck box in terms of retail. Much easier to display and fewer issues with shrinkage. There are some pouch games at the big box retailers that I shop at, and inevitably people are opening them up and spilling out the contents. The tuck box is in your best interests for long-term mass marketing, which you should be aiming for. Will there be a point where your economy of scale makes the tuck box a better economical option than the pouches? After all, right now you are selling directly to retailers, but eventually you may move into offering the 70% break for distributors. Your logistical thinking may shift as you go further into bulk distribution.

That said, why not upscale the pouches as an upsell item? You could sell them as online exclusives. If they are cheap enough then you could save the branding for the product packaging and imprint the pouches with each of the fictional team logos. Otherwise, go all out and make something catering to the hardcore fan. I'm thinking something like these guy's deluxe tote pouches:

http://ufotourgolf.com/prg-accessories/embroidered/totebags/

Kickstarter is a good option here, since you could KS a project to fund some deluxe bags and basic team pouches, which then gives you a platform for advertising the reasons behind the restructuring toward the tuck boxes and your commitment to giving your core customers what they want. Stretch goals expand the range of logos available, etc., and if you do logos without team names then there could be some cross-marketability.

Anyways, good luck! I always enjoy your posts.

Special Editions, Online Exclusives, etc.

Soulfinger wrote:
That said, why not upscale the pouches as an upsell item? You could sell them as online exclusives.
I was going to suggest you have a special "online only" deal for the pouches. Companies will frequently have a "collector's edition" or other special deal to make this distribution model a cost-effective one.

I do think "what's best for the business" is to not limit yourself to online-only channels. Being able to accommodate both markets may mean modifying your offerings and presenting differently to either. Keeping both packaging options may be a way to do this.

I would discourage anyone from staying "online only" for tabletop games in general if they want their business to persist. I'm not articulate enough to state it so clearly, but depending on Internet-based sales doesn't seem like a strategy followed by any game companies that have lasted very long/had thousands of sales.

Excellent feedback

Thanks Soulfinger and let-off studios for some great comments and flipping the idea of what's the upsell.

I've always thought the box was the deluxe option and to have both of your suggestions of stylizing the bags was staring me right in the face all along!

I'll reassess my juggling skills and see how best to accommodate all options.

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