Saturday, May 07, 2011

A Defining Moment

A few distributor terms and the meanings I have come to recognize after more than three decades of retailing:

Net price: This is distributorspeak that translates to "you, the retailer, are getting such a horrible discount on this item that we're just going to tell you what you'll pay and hope that you're not smart enough to figure out your actual discount."

No guarantee of mix: We promise you six units in a case, you'll get six units in a case--probably six of the units that Target and Walmart didn't want.

May ship after mass market: You're going to get your orders on this about the same time that the big box retailers and Amazon mark theirs down to liquidation pricing.

Hobby market will have a two month exclusive on this product: You're going to pay through the nose to help us develop a player base for this product, and two months later you'll find out that it's available at Walmart with a retail price about 10% lower than the wholesale price you've been paying.

Timed for (insert name of convention here) release: We're going to sell every copy we possibly can at the con at retail, and we'll urge people who don't have enough money to order it from us when they get home. Then, after we've filled all those, we'll sell you whatever gleanings are left.

Please Inquire: The price on this is so high that you'd choke if we actually told you.

Will be be printed to order: We have so little confidence that anyone is going to want this once they see it that we're not risking any of our money on it, hoping that you'll risk yours instead.

Strictly limited: 80% of the time, this means "we'll print as many as we can trick you into ordering, but no more."  10% of the time, it means the same as Timed for (insert name of convention here) release; the other 10% of the time, it means the same as Will be printed to order.

Contains a mix of original and classic material: You're going to get about 10% new pages and a whole lot of reprints that no one really wanted, but the digital files were just sitting there, and we figured there was something to be done with them.

From the vault: We knew you didn't want this stuff the first time, so we stuck it in a drawer for a decade or so. Now we hope you're less discerning...

Digital day and date release: We're counting on your cash to pay our production costs so that we can sell it for less online and try to snake those customers from you.