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2012 Industry Summit
Survey says: Retailers target ship dates, redemptions, in-store events
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAS VEGAS, Sunday March 18, 2012
A survey of more than 100 retailers attending the 2012 Industry Summit targeted three key development areas entering the trading card business’ annual conference.

Asked to identify critical improvement areas, more than 100 independent retailers from across the U.S. and Canada focused on three areas: Release schedules, redemptions and in-store promotions. The annual survey, conducted by Summit organizers, serves to prioritize discussions during the Summit’s March 18-21 gathering of more than 350 card and collectible manufacturers, licensors, distributors and retailers.

“In more than 15 years of working with our industry’s retailers, I have never observed such clear consensus on key issues and opportunities,’’ said Kevin Isaacson, Summit host. “Improvement in these areas will almost certainly predicate sales increases throughout the category.’’

A detailed assessment of the retailer survey, conducted online March 16-17:

Release schedules. Retailers decried their inability to plan and execute promotions, manage inventory and manage cash flow due to shifting release dates. A sampling of comments:

“Let me be honest: I don’t promote any new releases, because I can’t trust that it will show up on time. I might do something a few weeks later. I’m sure it costs me sales, but at least I’m not promising something that I can’t deliver.’’
“If manufacturers are going to change the release date, we should be allowed to change our orders. Just because I can sell four cases on April 10 doesn’t mean I can sell them on June 15! And now I need product to sell to my customers in April!’’
“A product or the release date might have to change – I get that. But I need better communication from the manufacturers – my customers can’t know about it before I do.’’
“More products during the regular season, please! Why do the best products come out after the league has stopped playing for the year?’’
Redemptions. Retailers acknowledged the challenges of obtaining autographs (especially on-card), but continue to view redemptions as a huge industry liability, especially when they are not filled within 60 days of release. A sampling of comments:

“Out of control. I don’t think it’s possible to put a dollar figure on the lost sales from collectors who have left the industry, because they are still waiting for a redemption card from something they bought a year ago.’’
“We need a way to help our customer right then and there. Waiting until whenever just drives the customer away from our hobby.’’
“Redemption cards should NOT expire. We pay for the product. The card should still be somewhere in inventory at the manufacturer if it has not been redeemed. Why does the collector not deserve to receive it, regardless of the date? What is the point of stocking older wax in our shops when there are so many redemptions inserted?’’
Category promotions. Citing the success of Panini America’s Black Friday effort the recent launch for Topps Baseball Series I and ongoing successes in the trading-card-game segment, retailers encouraged their industry partners to develop more compelling, well-communicated category promotions – but also acknowledged their own responsibility in creating a consistent sense of community. A sampling of comments:

“The gaming industry is far advanced in providing retailers greater tools to be successful. There is a huge untapped range of marketing ideas that manufacturers can lend a hand with from promotions, giveaways, Internet tools, timely releases and complete products.’’
“Increasing the sense of community at the retail level is critical. We’re responsible, and we need to organize in-store events, trading groups and other things, no matter what promotions the leagues and manufacturers are doing. It starts with us.’’
Other issues identified by retailers: Requests for a reduced insertion of jersey/memorabilia cards, potentially replaced by new/varied printing technology; extension of the Panini and Upper Deck hobby programs across the entire manufacturing community; fewer $100-pack products; more pop-culture-focused content; and more transparency in allocation and distribution.

SUMMIT UPDATES: Follow all the action from the show floor via Twitter (#industrysummit), beginning with Sunday’s Welcome Reception at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

…. More news from Industry Summit partners ….

EMAIL MARKETING SEMINAR: Ron Cates from Constand Contact will present a “Power of Email Marketing’’ seminar to open the Summit’s “earlybird extra’’ educational series. Cates’ presentation begins at 12:30 PM Sunday in the Summit conference area, and is open to all Summit corporate and retailer attendees.

MAKING ONLINE SELLING EASY : CrystalCommerce, a leader in technology for game retailers, will host a Sunday afternoon “earlybird extra’’ session about how to sell online, and about making the most out of your sales and sales activities. The session will be about general tips and tricks, and about how the CrystalCommerce platform makes online selling of gaming product -- especially singles -- easier than any other service. Included: Using the CrystalCommerce platform to sell POS in your store, and on your website (which we will set up for you), and on eBay, and on bidStart, and on Facebook, and on Amazon, and more -- all from the same program and using the same, centralized inventory.

PRE-RELEASE CASE: Leaf Trading Cards has donated an unopened, pre-release case of Leaf Metal Golf to the 2012 Summit silent auction. Suggested retail: $1200+ All proceeds from the auction will be utilized for first-time retailer scholarships to the 2013 Summit.

TWITTER HASHTAG: The official Twitter hashtag for Industry Summit news will be #industrysummit Use the hashtag to view the latest news, responses and commentary from the show floor, throughout the March 18-21 event.

BENCHWARMER GIFT: CEO Brian Wallos has created an event-exclusive “white box’’ promo featuring five unique BenchWarmer cards, including two autographed cards and a memorabilia card. He will be distributing the “white boxes’’ – which BenchWarmer is allocating on a one per retail store basis -- at the Leaf Trading Cards booth during Tuesday’s business session.

RETAILER PROMO FROM CARDBOARD CONNECTION: The team at Cardboard Connection has created a valuable promotion for retail store owners attending the 2012 Summit. The first 15 retailers to register will receive a free Cardboard Connection retailer spotlight package, which includes an interview and business profile on the company’s website as well as a 15-minute interview on the Cardboard Connection radio show. In addition, one of the 15 retailers will be selected to win a six-month sponsorship of the “Set of the Week” segment on Cardboard Connection Radio ($850 value). Interested stores can register beginning Sunday night at the company’s radio HQ on the Summit show floor.


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