Once more I have traveled to lovely Madison, Wisconsin for ACD Games Day, a trade show with retailers in mind. It's full of helpful seminars, and a number of manufacturers are around ready to get an earful of what they are doing badly from a retailer perspective, but also a spoonful of what they are doing right.
It is that direct contact with various game companies that makes this valuable for me. Letting them know what's working in our stores, as well as what is not working helps shape how they approach things in the future. Ultimately, the companies still follow the almighty dollar, but many have found that working with retailers helps increase cash flow for themselves, thus, we have a voice.
There are a couple of trends in the industry that have sort of drawn my ire as of late. One is "paperless" invoicing. This is where you order something, and they send you an e-mail with an attached PDF. That PDF is your invoice. If you want a paper copy, you have to print it. Nothing irritates me like opening a shipment and not having paper to check it against. Really, folks... It's paper and a smidge of toner. Put a damn invoice in the box instead of making me track down one specific e-mail out of hundreds and print something out. I'm paying you, remember?
Another wonderful trend is the lack of information about products until something like two weeks before their release. Retailers are given no hints about how much an item/product line is going to cost, so any release from companies who are engaging in this practice becomes something like an unexpected expense. I'm not fond of surprises, especially of this sort, and I'm fairly certain a number of other retailers agree with me.
My last major gripe concerns the increasing number of "exclusive" arrangements between various game companies and a select few distributors. I hate these arrangements because it forces retailers to spend money in a certain way, as opposed to leaving the choice to them. The question has gone from "okay, which distributor do I need to get game X from while balancing keeping our customers happy and maximizing our money" to "I need game X. That means I need to place an order with Y distributor even though the markup will be poor and we don't need anything else from them."
Yeah, folks love me at these things... =P