Friday, April 11, 2014

Big Bad Toy Store & Warbotron - A Seller's Story

I was surfing one of our Canadian TF fan boards the other day and came across this rather interesting post that seems to have affected a number of retailers.  I thought that I would share it with those of you that follow my blog and maybe see what your thoughts were.
Here it is quoted word for word (again by another individual).  The actual link posting can be seen HERE if you wanted to get into all the different replies to it.
"Folks at Cybertron.ca

Please let me enlighten everyone as to what has happened with the first Warbotron figure. No one in North America has it – except for Big Bad Toy Store. For whatever



reason – the people at Warbotron decided that it was in the best interests of everyone to ship their entire N.American batch only to BBTS. Whether they specified this or not – they also gave them a 90 day monopoly on this figure. In the UK – some retailers were also not given the figure. The retailers there, though they had agreed to meet at least the minimum order quantity set out by Warbotron were given last minute notice that they would not receive it. Hong Kong was not given the figure either. Retailers or distributors in China were given orders to not ship out to Hong Kong – unless they wanted to be punished with no further stock. Not only were retailers not given advance notice- but retailers were given the go ahead to advertise on their websites that they were getting this figure. FREE advertisements.

I’m just going to cut to the chase. This is utter bullshit by a third party company and a very large company that is essentially trying to screw a lot of small businesses and retailers. Why care about the retailers and small businesses? My ideology has been –those who help me – I help them. Without the smaller businesses bringing in these figures – then you get to purchase this stuff online and overseas. I’m sure when you buy this Airburst figure from BBTS at 89$ USD – add in shipping; customs; (paypal or whatever US conversion rate we’re at) your figure will cost what? 110?115$ if you’re lucky. Why the fuck would you help out a store that would stoop to such bs tactics? This goes beyond the 1 figure. This will set precedence to third party companies or better yet BBTS to just monopolize the whole market. That’s right –one day you might only buy these figures from 1 company – and they will set the price of the figure to whatever they stupidly want and you will have to pay through the nose.

So to those that were expecting me to bring in these figures – sorry I can’t bring them in. Warbotron and the dirty practices initiated by BBTS has screwed people all the world over. I implore you to not deal with BBTS. Don’t give them your business. Give your business to Canadians such as Automaton, Ages 3&Up, BK Collectibles, Imperium Collectibles, It Came from Japan and a crud load of others I may have missed. If you help out your local business- they’ll in turn help you.
"

________________________________

Certainly a really interesting look into what can take place in the retail world.
Here are some fan replies to this posting that stuck out to me :

  • "You guys are kidding right? Angry at BBTS? Cmon!! Warbotron is the one who screwed you.  This is BBTS, which all most fans here wouldn't ever be buying from anyways cause you don't want to get hit by duty, unless they had absolutely no choice. And now, because BBTS have exclusivity for 3 months, which God forbids waiting for, now suddenly they are totally not going to buy from them this time right? You don't like exclusives, then blame Warbotron for doing it AND imposing a large quantity order to make price cheaper AND not telling the other etailers about time exclusive, and why not boycott any products from Warbotron, like what some some of the other smaller Etailers are now going to do cause they got screwed by Warbatron??? It is Warbotron who didn't advise the other etailers there would be a time delay. And yea, blaming BBTS is a joke, just don't give money to Warbotron if you are sincere. "

  • "Oh -sorry my anger was more directed at BBTS than Warbotron -but i've already given Warbotron an earful and a lot of other companies has done so as well. Why am i irritated with BBTS? Because they are a bigger company that has tried to do this on more than one occasion. To my knowledge and experience - they did it with ToyWorld's Hardbone figure. Next was Igear's sharkies and now this. More than frustrating. You don't think that BBTS used their leverage as a bigger online service to get what they wanted out of this deal?
    Yah Warbotron are also responsible for this fiasco. It was shitty business practices and they're going to suffer for this.
    Realistically will people boycott either of the 2? Doubtful -but i'm hoping people will."
  • "I see several people on both sides of the fence here, and everyone has a valid point. As one of the resellers that was also forced out from having these figures, let me state where my logic lies.  The main fault for all this comes from the Warbotron Team. They made agreements with the Distributors who in turn made agreements with the relailers, like BBTS, A3U, TFSource, Slayback, Nullray, us, etc., etc. They are also the ones that went back to the Distributors, after the fact, and told them "Don't ship to X, Y, and Z or else you won't receive any more of our future products." Telling other resellers to "go buy it from BBTS wholesale" when they closed such a division a year ago, then saying "well we didn't know they did that." tells me that they never asked the question and didn't care because of what they were getting in return.   A part of the blame does fall upon BBTS, though. They knew that this product had been reserved for all retailers and went above and beyond to make it an exclusive to them. As mentioned earlier, when a retailer announces something as an exclusive, that's all fine as long as it's announced that way from the very beginning, but when it is already promised to all retailers and it is moved into an exclusive agreement after-the-fact, that is usually because someone approached the Manufacturer with the idea and came with some serious incentives that would make the Manufacturer pull away from all the other retailers, including major ones like TFSource, Robot Kingdom, and others.  Overall, as others have mentioned, it's shady business practices that has a negative effect on the entire Community. Not sure if the agreement is going to continue into the other bots, but Warbotron says the next 2 will be released in June, so it may. Sad day." 
  • "Yes and no. You are right where most of the blame is on WB, but BBTS had a master plan too. When BBTS closed their wholesale division, they sent a letter to all of the members inviting them to continue buying from them at full retail price with no wholesale discounts. So their motive for this move was to get all retailers to buy from them at retail prices, then having to jack up the price (or take a loss because they don't offer free shipping). That would mean that BBTS is still "the lowest price around" and would sell out of their stock faster than anyone else.  The marketing strategy works at the higher, distribution levels, but isn't very fair to resellers of Collectors at the retail level, especially when there is no one in Canada to support either. "

  • "We would like to thank all of our loyal customers and fans who have pre-ordered Warbotron Products for the latest combiner release, but are sad to say that after much consideration we have decided to cancel our orders with them.



In turn, this unfortunately means that anyone who has pre-ordered Warbotron through agesthreeandup.com will have those products removed from their orders. For the inconvenience this has caused, we would like to provide a 15% discount coupon for those who have pre-ordered to use on future purchases with us.
Why have we done this?
We regret that along with other retailers, we were mislead by Warbotron surrounding the details of this release and in turn have misinformed our customers. We were solicited months before with very clear details on a March release date. After having orders confirmed several months ago, not only have we been part of a group of retailers who has promoted and taken pre-orders in the name of our customers, but also emailing regularly for status updates since then.
It frustrates us to report that not only has Warbotron’s communication been non existent, but when they finally responded to us group of retailers, we were told a larger retailer had already received their products and that they would have a 90-day monopoly in the United States and Canada before we or any other retailers could sell or receive any of our shipments (and yes "90-day Monopoly" is the exact wording they used).


Exclusive products in our industry is not uncommon and are a great way for companies to work with manufacturers to produce interesting things that otherwise might not see the light of day. But when true exclusives are produced these terms are not only made 100% clear to the consumers when purchases are made, but also made clear to the retailer if that exclusive is ever to be sold outside of one retailer.

However, when a product is solicited, retail orders are taken and customers have pre-ordered before exclusivity is announced, then we consider this to be unbalanced competition. Creating a monopoly after the market demand has been assessed is not great business practice over all. Some would argue, that a monopoly in the first place is not great for consumers. However, in this industry, exclusives are enjoyed by many competitors and really isn’t an issue if it’s handled properly and price adjustments aren’t made in bad faith towards consumers.

The main issue behind this whole thing we feel is that if allowed to set a precedence now, then dishonest communication and false expectations will be set by others. When that starts, it will soon become a slippery slope. We believe in healthy competition with other retailers and transparent communication to our customers about product expectations. Without that, consumer confidence in our entire industry goes down and it affects every single retailer negatively.

For this reason we can no longer support Warbotron until they take responsibility of their actions and show a clear understanding of the consequences it brings to the industry that they represent. An industry that not only provides a ground for Warbotron to connect their products with interested consumers, but one that provides a living for us and our fellow retailers in turn.


We apologize again for any inconvenience this has caused and we will continue to work hard to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again in the future.


Boris Chow
Ages Three and Up"
 _________________________
  • Hi Everyone, Joel here from BBTS, I was alerted about the conversation on this thread by my staff. I’ve taken some time to review the thread and wanted to give you some insight about our dealings with Warbotron.
    Last year we saw the prototype images posted by Warbotron and were very excited for this project. We were one of the first if not the first retailer approached by Warbotron when they started looking for retail partners, and I believe we were the first store to list preorders, so we have been working with them from the very beginning. We were very impressed with their designs, price points, size, and the overall aesthetics of the WB01 set of figures. We knew these figures would be very popular with our customer base and demand would be high.

    We got to know the people at Warbotron via email and asked all the various business questions we would typically ask about pricing, delivery, production, etc. when dealing with a new vendor. Warbotron informed us of their production schedule - they told us they were making an initial production run of figures WB01-A, B, C, D, E over the course of 3 – 4 months. The timing of the production runs were established and the schedule was quite aggressive. The initial production run for each figure was to be significant, but not large.

    Our #1 goal at BBTS is to treat our customers right and fulfill their orders as expected. Given the information we knew, we believed the demand for these items would outpace the supply due to the limitations of an aggressive production schedule. We analyzed sales of past 3rd party combiners we have sold and determined the quantity we would want for the WB01. We placed an official Purchase Order to Warbotron right away, and we made a firm commitment to buy from them very early in the process. In the end, our Purchase Order volume worked out to be the majority (but not all) of the volume produced in their initial production run. We do not know who the remainder of the first production run was shipped to.

    To ensure our customers would have access to these figures without delay, we ordered quickly, ordered a substantial amount, and finalized this order with a cash prepayment months in advance for our entire order of figure WB01-A, as well as prepayments on Figures B, C, D, E. Prepayments like this are fairly uncommon with 3rd party vendors, but we wanted to make sure we would receive our inventory, and the prepayment also helps ensure Warbotron have plenty of cash to carry out the full production run of all figures. Our main goal as a business is to satisfy our customer base. We acted in the best interest of our
    customers, and of BBTS. We did not want to risk receiving our stock from the 2nd production runs, which are roughly 3 months after the first from what Warbotron has told us, so we ordered accordingly and backed up that order with cash.
    We have had several high profile items arrive late in the past few months due to shipping company delays, customs inspection holds, or various other logistics problems. These delays irritate us, irritate our customers, and cause a meaningful amount to cancel BBTS preorders to buy elsewhere. We have an open cancellation policy so customers are free to buy or not buy from us whenever they wish, which holds us to a high level of performance to keep people happy. Delay situations like this are not good for our customers, not good for BBTS, and we will always do what we can (like prepay this order) to ensure they do not happen. To anyone who ordered elsewhere and is now waiting for the 2nd production run, we do apologize for the delay. Our actions were ‘for’ our customers and ‘for’ BBTS, not ‘against’ you or ‘against’ your store of choice.

    The people at Warbotron have been communicative with me and it has been a good experience overall, I don’t think they deserve the harsh treatment they have received here. They have worked hard to create a well designed high quality figure that you will enjoy, and it makes business sense for them to fill our large prepaid order first. We took a calculated, but large financial risk on this prepayment, but they have delivered as we expected, and we are very happy with how well the first figure turned out. We can’t wait to see the remaining 4 figures. (WB01-B and WB01-C are scheduled to arrive to BBTS in very late April or possibly Early May!) Both Warbotron and BBTS will stand behind the product quality and should you run into any random QC issues, we will be happy to replace the parts or figures as needed, as we always do.

    In closing, thanks for reading my lengthy message, I hope it helps to clear the air about what is going on. In the end it basically boils down to a business making a business decision for the sake of its customers and itself, and I apologize if the fallout of this affects you. Thanks to all of you who shop with us, we truly appreciate your business!

    Thanks!
    Joel Boblit
    President
    BigBadToyStore.com - Toys, Action Figures, Vintage Toys, and Collectibles
________________________________________

Obviously there are plenty more opinions so if you are interested in this debate you can check the link that I posted at the top of this article. 

What are your thoughts?



6 comments:

  1. being shady like this, i will never purchase anything made by warbotron. I already use BBTS as little as possible (i think three orders total over my collecting life lol)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Bryce,

      Something was up with this. I think I would have certainly been upset if I had even planned on going for a figure like this.

      For myself, I have always been a TF Source buyer, I think that is because it was the first online TF store that I was introduced to and have never had an issue with them…not to mention their bullet-proof packaging is second-to-none.

      I can understand items being exclusive to certain store and such, but if they were made available to other sellers and an exclusive time-period was going to be given to BBTS ahead of time, this should have been mentioned to give buyers an option to go elsewhere instead of being screwed over.

      In the end, I think this just gives people more hesitation in buying third-party products.

      Cheers,
      Joe

      Delete
  2. I use BBTS pretty much exclusively, and I've never had any issues with them. Then again, I live in the U.S., so I don't have to worry about import fees. I've seen a lot of blame thrown around at BBTS over this, and I honestly can't see why. I don't think that they tried to monopolize the market on this on purpose. Generally, if BBTS is going to have an exclusive, they're all about letting everyone know that it's an exclusive, even if it's a shared one. Warbotron really dropped the ball on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the comment and checking the post out. I agree,Warbotron really did drop the ball on this. I would be interested in finding out in the end if this hurts their sales in any way.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would certainly think so. It would be nice if they'd come out and say something on their end.

      Delete
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