Editor’s Note: RookieCards.com was on-hand as one of a select group of attendees at this week’s Industry Summit in Las Vegas. The event, which blends retail store owners, online sellers, card manufacturers and more in a collective exchange of ideas, kicked off last night with a meeting of brick-and-mortar dealers at The Orleans hotel’s ballroom. The room was packed, dealers were angry, and ideas flowed as easily as draft beer during March Madness.

Industry Summit creator and the moderator for the dealer discussion Kevin Isaacson began the discussion by basically saying that individually one dealer doesn’t move the ball, but the assemblage of 150 dealers acting in unison is the ball.
Here is an exclusive recap of this meeting.


Here is an overview of key recommendations, suggestions & ideas gleaned from more than 150 brick-and-mortar retailers during the two-hour  “Sunday Night Annual Meeting’’ at the 2011 Industry Summit.  Each of the 150 stores participated in the positive, invigorating discussion.  The key results:

TOP  ISSUES/OBJECTIVES FOR 2011:

1) Autograph Redemptions.  “You can’t sell something you don’t have.’’

2) Need for expanded communication, particularly regarding changes in ship dates & product/checklist configuration.

3) Q/C and other service issues.  Can’t let shortfalls fester – resolve ASAP & positively.

A bullet-point summary of all suggestions & discussion topics, organized by category:

FINANCIAL

Retailers deserve ASAP info when ship dates change – impacts financial planning.  BIG issue.
Margin remains an issue for B&M retailers – currently, internet still impacts.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & Q/C

Schedule product release logically – good mix of high, mid & low, sequential timing of each.
Over-correction in total releases?  Hobby stores can sell more releases than currently offered.
Retailers want an entry-level, set-building product, and not just at beginning of season.  Need to have a fun, low-cost SKU that can bring kids/families into the hobby.  Works in gaming.
Blasters – why not provide to hobby accounts?
If you can reduce % of bad auto stickers & damaged cards in front end, it reduces cust-serv issues & attendant costs on back end.  Hold printers accountable.
Question:  Would you invest your salary in your own new-issue product?

REDEMPTIONS & CUST SERVICE

Why put an expiration date for redemptions?  Hobby can be fueled by people who buy cases & “put away’’ for their kids.  If your redemptions expire in 3 years … and you put lots of redemptions in cases … why would any reasonable person store a case for 10 years?
SITUATION:  A) You don’t deliver what was promised.  B)  Customer waits.  C)  What they get back isn’t worth what they were promised.  Question:  How does that help us incent collectors?
Players Association question:  Given $$$ made from card industry … why can’t signing cards/stickers be a priority?
Consider offering dedicated Hobby Shop cust-serv phone line – separate & prioritized from mass/open retail cust-service.   Help your “hobby face’’ serve your best customers ASAP.

PROMOTIONS & ADVERTISING

Schedule & communicate well ahead of SKU release.  Many current promotions “launch’’ just before SKU is in market – waste of league, PA and MFG quality ideas, time, effort.
Case-toppers:  Bring it back ASAP:  Great technique for empowering hobby retailer.
Balance:  Why do “certain stores’’ get a shot at frequent league/MFG promotions, and others are never on the “call list”?
Viral videos – show kids that MLB, NFL players think collecting cards is cool.  No need to go high-tech – youtube box breaks could get it done.
Co-op advertising – are budget available?
Scout program – why are “no kits available’’ at start of baseball season?

COMMUNICATION

Create a PPT on new products – help us to promote.  Or better sell sheets + more accurate?
Empower retailers by providing accurate/updated release dates.
Why not keep up-to-the-minute checklists online?   Put info out there, and challenge retailers to keep their customers updated.

DISTRIBUTION

Mass getting product before hobby – If it has to happen, at least let hobby know before-hand.
Pls provide “full’’ master cases, so we can help ensure goods are provided to consumers (not “half-master cases.)
Over-ship program, perhaps via distributors, on “developmental’’ releases?  Share risk?  Works in gaming?
Show dealers (no overhead) can kill a regional market.  Limit their access to new product?
Re-consider allocations – if we can sell more product to legit customers … without cherry-picking releases … why not give it to us?
Should MFG really lump all non-brick & mortar retailers into one category?

LEAGUE ISSUES
How should hobby retailers handle potential of labor issues/work stoppage?  Order and expect refund if players don’t play?  Or not order and hope to obtain product if they do play?
Help us drive consumers to shops?  Get them in, and demand that we retain/expand their participation in collecting hobby.
Baseball:  Please agree on a rookie card designation that entry-level consumers can understand – our best years in the last decade have featured “true rookies.”

Retailers:  If this summary does not reflect your thoughts or requires additional detail, please LMK via return email ASAP.
Corporate partners:  If you would like additional context on Sunday’s discussion, please contact Summit staff or feel free to discuss with any participating retailer.

Best.

kevin isaacson