Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fill Rates (Tradecraft)

Here's a little experiment. I'm taking my top 30 board games, which excludes expansions and card games, and checking availability from the largest three distributors at my local, West Coast warehouses. Over a quarter of this list includes Alliance exclusives (marked with an "x" for distributors that can't get those games), which pretty much guarantees I'll be shopping with Alliance. Lets look at the fill rates with these games, with Alliance being judged with their exclusives included. The other two distributors get a pass on those games.

Description ACD Alliance GTS
Pandemic: New Edition x Y x
Betrayal at House on the Hill N N N
Settlers of Catan Rev. x Y x
King of Tokyo Y Y Y
Small World x Y x
Ticket to Ride x Y x
Forbidden Desert Y Y Y
Smash Up N Y Y
Robinson Crusoe x Y x
Descent Journeys in the Dark 2E Y Y Y
Firefly: The Board Game Y N Y
Takenoko N N N
Arkham Horror Y Y Y
7 Wonders Y Y Y
Carcassonne x N x
Zombicide N N Y
Lords of Waterdeep Y Y Y
Castle Panic  Y Y Y
Star Wars X-wing  N Y Y
Super Dungeon Explore N Y Y
Red Dragon Inn Y Y Y
Elder Sign Y Y Y
Krosmaster: Arena Y N Y
Rampage N N Y
Shadows Over Camelot x N x
Agricola x Y x
Cosmic Encounter Y N Y
A Game Of Thrones Y Y Y
Mansions of Madness N N Y
Mice and Mystics Y Y Y
Total 22 30 22
Available 14 20 20
Fill Rate Percentage 63.6 66.7 90.9


  1. Choice seems pretty clear.

  2. Well...... not exactly. You have to use Alliance because of exclusives. ACD has a much wider non board game stock than GTS. Alliance has a very wide depth of back stock, deeper than the other two.

  3. Some of those games are now showing up more in mass market stores. I saw X-Wing, Pandemic, Ticket To Ride, Elder Sign, Net Runner all at my local Meijer which is a regional supermarket+department store.

  4. Yep, it's the goal of these publishers to get there and they're usually represented by PSI.

  5. Gary, I would be curious to see how Peachstate and Southern Hobby hold up

  6. You're a more generous man than I if you're willing to buy WotC from Alliance at a sub-45 discount.

  7. I really should do those few WOTC board games direct.

  8. That would require someone to trust PHD's numbers as well as click through all the items instead of list them.

  9. I remember X-Wing Starter being an "exclusive" at Target for the holiday season like 2 years ago. Not sure how well it did for them as I saw them on 50% off clearance on multiple occasions. Buying 2 of those clearence starter boxes is how I got sucked into that game. Strangely they never stocked the boosters unlike say Barnes and Noble which for a while was the go to place for X-wing ships as my FLGS never had them in stock when I in.
    Subject: Re: New comment posted on Quest for Fun!: Fill Rates (Tradecraft)

  10. Out of curiosity, is that the top 30 board games of all time, the past year, or the past month? And is it by quantity sold or by dollars sold?

  11. It's 2014 sales by profit.

  12. Is your pricing as good with gts compared to thr others (mine isnt) and was this just on one day or over a period of time?

  13. It is just as good. This was from the day I wrote this.

  14. One thing that numbers can't show is customer service. I have had piles of issues with Alliance just trying to get these base games. There sales people are.....lacking to say the least. ACD I have had a few issues, but they are so large I try not to deal with them. GTS? They have always been good on the customer service front (there shipping and warehouses have some issues). No distribuor is perfect.

    This all boils down to a monopoly. Alliance doesn't have to try. They have a monopoly on a core group of popular games. And game companies flock to them to get an exclusive to save money on storage. Not knowing they have the worst customer service and distribution in the business. GTS is in 3rd. They are doing everyhing they can to be #1. And it shows. I have working with them off and on for 2 years. It hasnt all been great, but they are not the worst. What the game industry needs is more competition on the distributor front.

  15. Yeah, this is not as clear as it might seem. Alliance gets a huge chunk of store business, GTS not as much. Therefore things may be in stock at GTS longer but their stock levels are lower. If I wanted 30 copies of game X (which is not an unusual occurrence) I might not be able to get that filled through a smaller distributor. That why many stores work through multiple distributors.

  16. Yep, the post raises many questions. I almost put "ready, go!" at the end of it.

  17. More distributors?? Not going to happen. The main reason for exclusives (from a publishers perspective) is publishers save lots of money shipping their games. If a company is exclusive through Alliance you have to drop ship to 4 or 5 warehouse vs 20+ if you are not just going through one distributor. Freight is not cheap. We receive shipments via freight quite often and it is expensive. We might have to pay $150 for a pallet of product. Imagine you are Days of Wonder and you just printed 100,000 copies of Ticket to Ride. How much more does that game cost you with non-exclusive distribution vs with just Alliance??

    What we need is publishers to step in against the practices of distributors that end up resulting in lower sales. I heard a rumor that FFG had a 'meet your maker' meeting with the license holder for X-Wing about availability or lack thereof which was of course hurting their bottom line. Of course, this would require publishers to be able to have enough product to meet demand in the first place. Maybe we are not there yet. But the answer is NOT more distributors. That would dilute product availability more.