Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
22 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Selling to stores & distributors? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
Hey folks

Wondering if anyone has any ideas or tips for selling your games to stores and even distributors?

Not so much from the marketing and advertising side, but more like.... not charging sales tax (for the US anyway), what kind of info you need, etc. Do most want to pay with a credit card or paypal or will I have to set up some kind of credit account for each one? I'd rather not have to do that, I'd prefer product was just paid for when they order it, at this early stage of the game anyway.

I'm just about to release my first product and of course I want to get it and others out there as much as I can, but I just want to have all my ducks in a row before I start trying to get ahold of distributors, etc.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brent Cunningham
United States
Lake Geneva
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

I would think that your best option is to email several distributors and ask about their policies. Many that I have talked to would like a copy of the game to determine if it is something they want to carry.

As far as retailers, you might have to deal with them on a case by case basis too...many might only buy through distributors, though some that I have talked to might be willing to buy direct...a slight price break on what they would pay a distributor for your game might entice.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
Sounds good, I'll have to get in touch with a few. Should I just go right to the top (Alliance) or try for the smaller ones first? I'm mostly selling miniatures though, but I intend to do boxed games later too.

I'd actually rather go to a distributor than stores, I was thinking some stores would rather deal direct though. I guess it will depend on each one. I just want to make sure it's all legal though, like if I'm not charging sales tax to sell to a store, do I still gotta pay uncle sam anyway? Or just if the store is in my own state?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Lee
United States
East Meadow
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My experience is that distributors will only buy X amount, but would be on credit and is returnable if it doesn't move (where you would have to also pay shipping back and forth to their warehouses), so the sales are not necessarily sold to the distributors and forgotten. Retailers generally only buy from distributors to cut down on shipping for the same reason - Three games in one box vs. 3 separate orders from the companies involved for single copies.

Keep in mind that either way, you will be selling your games to the stores and distributors at 40-50% of the suggested MSRP (not 40% off, but 40% of the price - 60% off) and paying the shipping charges. Good luck!

Edit for typos.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Shipley
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
the liberal unsavory type
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Necros wrote:
I'd actually rather go to a distributor than stores, I was thinking some stores would rather deal direct though. I guess it will depend on each one. I just want to make sure it's all legal though, like if I'm not charging sales tax to sell to a store, do I still gotta pay uncle sam anyway? Or just if the store is in my own state?


Most stores will want to use a distributor for low volume items. No sales tax is required when selling to a wholesaler or retailer. Keep accurate records of expenses and revenues and read up on taxes (Schdule C most likely). If you will be selling direct, you may need a reseller license from your state.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
Thanks for the info

I'm all set up for selling to normal people, I'll look into the schedule C thing if that's what I need for businesses. Also going to be getting in touch with the SBA too. I don't expect to be moving a bajillion minis tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll just be selling just to people who order off my website for a while. Just want to make sure everything is organized for when I do start trying to sell to distributors or stores so there's less hickups later. I've read about the discounts they expect too, so I'm pricing my stuff accordingly from the get go, to avoid price hikes later on and that sort of thing.

Here's another thing.. I don't have any official bar codes/UPC set up yet. It was something like $700 for your first 100 codes. Yuck. Anyway, will a distributor not want it till I have a real bar code on my products? Or does that not really matter to them? I'll be doing that soon, just don't have it today...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
One Armed Bandit
Canada
Surrey
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Necros wrote:
Wondering if anyone has any ideas or tips for selling your games to stores and even distributors?


This is by no means an absolute, but most retailers (and every one I have known) absolutely refuse to purchase stock directly from publishers.
It's distributor or nothing.
There are almost 12000 different publishers in the BGG database. Your typical store will carry stock from hundreds of them.
CoolStuffInc lists 276 different publishers on it's website

Think about how much work is needed to keep track of 276 different product catalogs, 276 different accounts receivable/payable, 276 different points of contact, 276 different website logins, 276 separate shipping charges... etc etc etc.

Not only that, but they need some way to even become aware of your company existing. Short of finding every store and sending them all a pitch... good luck. They're typically too busy to even read it.

Which is where a distributor comes in. The store only needs ONE account, one point of contact, one catalog to browse (which is automatically updated with any new publishers that the distro carriers, which informs EVERY store automatically), and only one, severely discounted shipping charge - the distributor gets a huge discount from FedEx because of how much they ship, and it's cheaper to make one shipment bigger than to send two smaller ones.

Realistically, how many units are you "printing"?
If it's less than a thousand... you're not getting into stores nationwide, and a distributor probably won't look at you.
At that point, you're much better off just doing direct sales until you earn enough to do a second print run, which is bigger.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Franziska
Wales
Cardiff
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The games shop I knew dealt with several distributors and also stocked some games bought directly from local designers. The emphasis was on "local" though, as this was seen as a selling point if the game wasn't very impressive (not saying yours isn't, just giving you a feeling for the situation!) - otherwise, they liked to stock a one-off order if they were the only ones stocking it in the wider region, so they could advertise it as rare or special.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
Since I'm just starting out, and just selling on my website for now, I only have 100 copies for my first mini done, and packaging myself to save some cash. I can easily get more minis produced and have a restock in a couple of days, so no need for me to fill up my condo with big boxes full of army men today. I expect operate this way for the next 6 months or so, and build up my product line releasing a couple of new figures each month, and then I'll start looking into distributors, when I have a worthwhile product line going. I don't think any distributors will even talk to me if I only have 1 or 2 miniatures to sell.

My production company can handle the packaging and ship directly to distributors, so that's most likely how I'll handle that when the time comes. So I was just figuring if a distributor wanted X amt of something, I'd just have the production company make em, pack em, and ship em. I don't think I'd be able to handle packaging and shipping 1000's myself, at least not until I had a real office and stuff.. but that's most likely a long ways off.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John J Perry Jr
United States
East Templeton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We've sold our games directly to stores and can tell you a few things from our experiences. First, we had a very high success rate selling them locally in Massachusetts. This is largely due to the fact that we could drive to each of these stores and demo the product directly. Many were also very willing to stock a game by a local publisher. Stores beyond our reach were mailed a flyer outlining our product and pricing and then contacted by phone a week or two later. Direct sales in this manner resulted in about 1 out of every 10 stores contacted buying from us directly. The rest of our sales are done through normal distributors and direct to customer through our website. As far as a UPC code is concerned, it is not required for such things as miniatures or card games (which fits into our category) and (other than one instance) has never been an issue for us (we didn't use one and simply have the MSRP printed on the card boxes). If you'd like more specific information you can email me directly at jperry@realmsmastersgameforge.com zombie
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
Thanks, that's kind of what I was planning.. demoing in stores up to like a 2 hour drive away from me. In fact I have my first store demo this saturday (and no product available until the end of next week, oh well ). It's a pretty major store in the area and I know the owner well enough, I'm sure he'd by happy to stock a few of my minis and see how it goes. He carries lots of indie stuff, and he's close enough that I could even just drop off his orders. But, for other stores I figured I'd offer to come and do demos on a weekend, and if they want to carry the minis I can fill their first order right then, and then take things from there. I also have a few demo events at some more local cons coming up, but I probably won't be able to do the major ones (GenCon, etc) till next year.

I'll hold off on UPCs then for a while. The cost to set that up is just silly at this stage of the game, and I'd right now I'd rather spend that kind of money getting 2-3 new sculpts done.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Etkin
United States
Gloversville
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
biddi biddi biddi
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
LordSoulFeaster wrote:
We've sold our games directly to stores and can tell you a few things from our experiences. First, we had a very high success rate selling them locally in Massachusetts. This is largely due to the fact that we could drive to each of these stores and demo the product directly. Many were also very willing to stock a game by a local publisher. Stores beyond our reach were mailed a flyer outlining our product and pricing and then contacted by phone a week or two later. Direct sales in this manner resulted in about 1 out of every 10 stores contacted buying from us directly. The rest of our sales are done through normal distributors and direct to customer through our website. As far as a UPC code is concerned, it is not required for such things as miniatures or card games (which fits into our category) and (other than one instance) has never been an issue for us (we didn't use one and simply have the MSRP printed on the card boxes). If you'd like more specific information you can email me directly at jperry@realmsmastersgameforge.com zombie


Hey John - if you don't mind me asking, were you selling to stores at the same MSRP discount a distributor would normally provide, or were you having to dip lower than that or offer incentives like free shipping?

I've only attempted to sell through a few local stores here in upstate NY, and for the most part it was an unmitigated disaster. The stores would only accept consignment sales, and even on that typically wanted 50% of the MSRP... which seemed awfully high to me considering they weren't taking any risk by purchasing the product for resale. And when it was all said and done - hardly any sales were made. I've had probably 1000% more success selling the game through our webportal or direct at cons.

Hmmph. Maybe my B2B sales skills just suck. If and when I get the revised TactDecks printed, I'm not sure if I'd try sales outside of direct-to-consumer, at least based on my lousy FLGS experiences.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
you can get barcodes from a reseller for $3-10 a piece - I have used www.nationwidebarcodes.com, and it works just fine.

You can work direct with most of the online stores (Boards and Bits, Thoughthammer, Funagain, etc) directly, and without needing a bar code.

Distribution is a pull model, the distributors are not going to sell your product. They really are in the business of taking orders - so it will still be your job to sell your game to stores, and distribution provides value by reducing shipping costs, and providing a single point for order management and transaction processing to the stores.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MOTHDevil wrote:
were you selling to stores at the same MSRP discount a distributor would normally provide, or were you having to dip lower than that or offer incentives like free shipping?

I've only attempted to sell through a few local stores here in upstate NY, and for the most part it was an unmitigated disaster. The stores would only accept consignment sales, and even on that typically wanted 50% of the MSRP... which seemed awfully high to me considering they weren't taking any risk by purchasing the product for resale. And when it was all said and done - hardly any sales were made. I've had probably 1000% more success selling the game through our webportal or direct at cons.

Hmmph. Maybe my B2B sales skills just suck. If and when I get the revised TactDecks printed, I'm not sure if I'd try sales outside of direct-to-consumer, at least based on my lousy FLGS experiences.


I have done very little direct to store sales myself - prefer working through fulfillment, then distribution. Fulfillment is even lower margins than selling to a distributor, but handles shipping costs, order taking, getting pai, etc for me from distribution.

When I have dealt with stores directly I have always done 50% of MSRP with free shipping - in general this is for new product introductions (like Flash Point). My comments in earlier post about distributors not selling your game applies to stores as well - most game stores don't "sell" anything except for Magic cards - everything else sits on the shelf until someone buys it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John J Perry Jr
United States
East Templeton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eric, selling to retailers in general is 50% off MSRP, and in general it's 60% off MSRP for distributors. Travis is correct, YOU have to sell your game. Just getting it in the store isn't good enough. You have to do everything you can to promote it. The trick is to get the store (or distributor) to reorder.zombie
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Kline

Norristown
Pennsylvania
msg tools
designer
mbmb
T Worthington wrote:
you can get barcodes from a reseller for $3-10 a piece - I have used www.nationwidebarcodes.com, and it works just fine.

You can work direct with most of the online stores (Boards and Bits, Thoughthammer, Funagain, etc) directly, and without needing a bar code.

Distribution is a pull model, the distributors are not going to sell your product. They really are in the business of taking orders - so it will still be your job to sell your game to stores, and distribution provides value by reducing shipping costs, and providing a single point for order management and transaction processing to the stores.


So you mean someone orders through their distributor, and then I have to send them the product? Or by sell do you mean I need to provide things to make people want to come to their local game shop and buy it?

I'm planning a lot of organized play, like campaigns, leagues and tournaments, and eventually prize support and all that stuff (when I actually am selling enough to be able to afford prizes ). Stores that carry the game get listed on my site along with any events they plan to run, that sort of thing.

I was planning to do 50% off for stores, no minimum orders and free shipping, but after a certain amt. I can't do free shipping if they order just 1 or 2 miniatures, I'd be losing money that way. I was thinking $100 for free shipping? or is that laughably high? Most of my blister packs are going to be $11.49 retail or higher, starter sets probably $35-40. Was also planning to allow stores to just order through my website like any other customer, just their account gets flagged with their discount and no sales tax.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John J Perry Jr
United States
East Templeton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tim, whether selling direct to retailers or to distributors you will have to provide free shipping. Just set a minimum purchase requirement. The lower you set it, the better your chances of selling it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Georgio Pastrama
United States
Cheektowaga
New York
flag msg tools
Theres a lot of great infromation here!

What are your opinions on using a fullfillment company for a first commercial product? Is it a good idea to start with a fullfillment company, and then see if it is working well. What if the fullfillment company has limited distribution and online presence? Is it still a good way to start out? And then as your game gains momentum to expand the support services?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
in the supply chain world, fulfillment typically means outsourced warehousing and shipping. That is an option for board games, but in this market there are several value added fulfillment services - ones that facilitate the sales with distributors and major retailers.

I use PSI (www.pubservinc.com) as fulfillment - they have deeper connections with the major retailers (Barnes and Noble, Target, Amazon, etc) than the other options - so a god choice if your games have a wider appeal. PSI does not charge me for warehousing, but they do take a percentage of every sale made through them, and they have an exclusive right to sell to the major retailers in the US.

Other options that I am aware of is Game Salute, which takes a more direct to store model and controls stores ability to sell online. I work with Game Salute, but not exclusively. My understanding (please check) is that Game Salute does not charge warehouse fees.

Impressions - which is more RPG focused but does work with board games, and I understand charges for warehouse fees.

Amazon - offers fulfillment, doesn't have any sell to distributors but does of course sell to consumers directly. Cards Against Humanity has used Amazon pretty much exclusively with great results, but would caution against a single channel strategy. Amazon charges warehouse fees, those fees increase significantly after products have been there for a period of time - Fulfillment by Amazon is really intended to be a service to selling products on Amazon.

I contacted PSI after I had sold half of my first print runs, and was able to have them pick up my games. So not sure how open they are to games/companies without a track record.

Game Salute does quality assurance of games as well - they won't take games that they don't endorse.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Georgio Pastrama
United States
Cheektowaga
New York
flag msg tools
Travis, thanks for all the previous replies and a couple of questions for you, if you have a chance to reply to them:

1. If you go with PSI, do they own the IP rights to your game? If so for how long, and when do they revert back to the designer.

2. How is there designer percentage compared to other publishers? DO they give you a higher percentage based on amount of work the designer and artists have already done and scale that?

3. Do they have exclusive rights to sell the product with other retailers besides the major national ones, for example wit local brick and mortar shop s or online retailers?

4. Do they provide promotions, marketing, and game fair/convention promoting presence?

5.Will they provide any additional play-testing support?

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
CW Karstens
United States
Nevada
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MadMartigan wrote:
Travis, thanks for all the previous replies and a couple of questions for you, if you have a chance to reply to them:

1. If you go with PSI, do they own the IP rights to your game? If so for how long, and when do they revert back to the designer.

2. How is there designer percentage compared to other publishers? DO they give you a higher percentage based on amount of work the designer and artists have already done and scale that?

3. Do they have exclusive rights to sell the product with other retailers besides the major national ones, for example wit local brick and mortar shop s or online retailers?

4. Do they provide promotions, marketing, and game fair/convention promoting presence?

5.Will they provide any additional play-testing support?



PSI is a fulfillment company, not a publisher. They do not help with the publication side of things.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, PSI is on the fulfillment/distribution side of the business.

Indie Boards & Cards (that's me) is the publisher, and I work with designers to publish their games. PSI helps get those games directly to stores.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.