After attending post-mortems for various projects and raking over the grist of tasks complete and not so complete, it was easy to see that seemingly obvious problems in hindsight were missed when in the thick of things. After experiencing this a few times it came as no surprise that Game are doing rather badly at the moment considering the rather large Elephants that have taken up residence there, the least of which may be the internet slowly devouring their sales margins with fava beans and a nice Chianti. If I was running Game I would have probably done things differently. So I emailed the CEO, Ian Shepherd, my suggestions for running his large multi-million (at the current time of writing) company… what harm could it do?
This is a cut and paste of the email with some tagging for lists. Any grammatical errors/spelling errors are due to me wanting to knock out the email in a rush.
Sorry to hear about your current Game credit line issues, but unfortunately given my interaction with your various stores I can see how this would have come about. I recently went to the Oxford Street branch of Game to use my gamepoints and pick up a copy of the latest Zelda. It took a minute to pick up the box and 20-30 minutes to queue to pay. In this time I saw other people leave the queue after giving up waiting and other people put product back on the shelves after walking to the queue and seeing the length of it. That is money on the table that is not being picked up which seems insane to me.
Some quick thoughts from the top of my head, you probably know this already:
- You’re being killed by online and Tesco’s/Asda.
- The “GAME” experience is not particularly good if people are queueing for such a long time or talking to people that are pushing items that aren’t right for members of public that aren’t tech/game savvy.
- Too much tat in the shop. Do you really make that much money from the toys and other items used as teasers on the way to the checkout? Is it worth the stock space or the visual clutter in your stores.
What can you do? Not a lot if you can’t get a credit line, but if you can I would suggest the following:
- Tighten up your core competencies, re: sales.
- Tighten up your point of sale. I come into the store, I pick up an item, I pay and I leave. That should take a couple of minutes at most. If the person on the front desk has to go rooting around in the stock room then you’ve failed. You need to create a system that streamlines purchases.
- I want a game, I don’t necessarily want to wade through racks of stock. I have an iPod and can sweep through tens of covers a minute, why can’t I do that in a shop? Create a point of sale that allows me to do that. I can still chance upon a gem that I didn’t know about if in the same way as coverflow on the ipod, but it allows me to see what is in stock and select it quickly. I can select the cover and that could be making its way to the POS for someone to pick up when I go and pay (you could even tie this into phones to lock people into getting points for physically coming into the shop to pick up items.)
- DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PEOPLE TO GO INTO THE STOCK ROOM (there is a caveat for this…) The shop should be setup as the top floor of Selectadisc (its changed to Sister Ray now ) on Wardour Street. All the games and cheaper stock should be behind an extended counter and properly dictionary sorted to make it easier for people to pick up and prepare for the customers. If possible there should be no game boxes on the shop floor, just various swipable point of sales (you can write down the hardware so its even tax light compared to game boxes…) The caveat is that your high value items should be behind locked doors (in the stock room.) If people are really purchasing high value items then people can tolerate the loss in time taken by staff going to the backroom to pick up their items. If you’re worried about security aspects then have a security guard near the front doors, however this shouldn’t be a problem given above…
- Shops as point of sale are going to die unless they deliver something that can’t be delivered through the door by a postman/courier. The town centre will have to be re-purposed and you could be the front wave of this…
- People should want to come into your stores and purchase things there. Create gaming competitions a la Games Workshop and make them inclusive to OAPs and women. The shop floor should have people wanting to translate what they are doing there back into the home.
- Points for physicality. Everything should be a game. Getting customers to help other customers should be worth game points, buying in the shop should be worth game points, completing certain games should be worth game points, finding typos in your website should be worth game points.
- Become a games publisher. Start small with very small titles and gradually over the course of ten years become something like EA. Its actually feasible if you want to move away from your core competency.
What experience do I have? I’ve bought games since the BBC B, seen changes in stores over 30 years. I also used to develop games for EA Criterion, TT and Sony so have some experience of what it takes to get your stock onto the shelves.
Please find the above info in the terms I intended it, its from the top of my head but covers quite a few areas I’ve been thinking about when I changed from using your stores and used Amazon etc. Good luck!
(I may use this as a blog posting btw…)
Wouldn’t it be good if Game was a bit more like that… ah well I can but hope.