Monday, August 5, 2013

How Can GW Get to Know Their Customers?

So while going through some discussion on the GW financials, I was thinking about how it really does not provide much real useful information to evaluate the health of the company.  It shows the profit and costs and such based on various groups which they are constantly shifting around, but it does not really provide information about the customers and how they interact with the company.  I actually noticed it very much lacked any focus on the customers in the document.  We are hardly mentioned in the directors forward.  This should probably be no surprise as they management in previous reports essential belittles the customers by showing confusion as to why people are  interested in their products.

This lack of interest in the customers might explain why they talk about increasing sales in such a vague way.  They have worked a ton on improving their margins in recent years through price increases, staffing reductions, and store re-locations and are quite happy about those levels now but note that they do want to see some real sales growth in terms of units.  They might even accept some reduction in margins again to achieve that.  They do not list any plans or changes they are going to make to accomplish that just notice that they would like to see it.

Now to increase the sales volume, they really need to think about their customers and know about their customers both people buying at the GW stores, independent brick and mortar, and independent internet based stores.  Many retail companies track their customers with credit card databases and loyalty programs.  Think about all the emails and real mail you get from various companies that you shop with.   Lego sends me emails about their new products and promotions, two small magazines with new products/builds/comics every other month, plus catalogs a few times a year.  American Girl sends us catalogs, adds for magazines, etc.  Not that GW should be just sending out tons of junk mail and spam to everyone near their stores but I am a known customer.  I probably have 10 web orders listed with their store and have gotten several replacement parts through their customer service, and used to subscribe to White Dwarf.  I cannot imagine that in every one of those orders I checked that I did not want to get emails from them.  I do get the weekly email from Forge World but only seem to get a catalog when I place an order now.  Given how pushy GW sales people can be when you go to the stores, it is really surprising that they are so weak in the direct marketing department.

GW has a little bit tougher time than a pure retailer in linking sales to customers as they have multiple distribution channels but I think they could do a much better job than they seem to be right now.  I remember a couple of years back they made everyone sign up for gw accounts online to view they old white dwarf stuff (which I am pretty sure is all gone now anyway).   Now GW would probably like to know how many different customers, how many new customers, how individual buying habits are changing to evaluate their sales and marketing efforts.  People generally give up this type of information for almost nothing but not actually nothing.  A loyalty card is not going to capture non store purchases so it is going to have to be something on line.  This also means that giving out 5 dollar coupons is not really going to work since they will then have to work with their trade partners on redemption.  So how do we get the customers in all the different channels go online and essentially register their purchases.

Digital Download codes.  My daughters pokemon cards come with a download code that unlocks cards in the online game.  We do not use them since we do not play the online game but GW could do something similar using their digital content.  Books and minis come with a download code that allows you to earn points to unlock digital content.  They already seem to be building up a library of non essential content that they are charging real money for.  Consider the codex supplements.  Those seem to have some interest but most non diehards are shocked by the prices.  Say after 6 months or 1 year you can use your points to open it up, then you might be inspired to make that special army and GW has learned all about you regardless of your purchase point.  They know what armies you are actively purchasing, what other armies you might be interested (by the fluff content you are redeeming your points for), etc.

I would not expect them to have you download a Rulebook or Codex for nothing as those are really needed but for example you register that you just bought a box of plastic SM terminators and the screen pops up about using the points to download White Dwarf X which has a painting tutorial from when they were release or this fluff piece about terminator heavy weapons, etc.  You give the customers something for taking the time to get engaged with you but not something that really costs you any real money like discounts and such would.  The content your giving also feeds them right back into your products.

Now this is not a ticket to increased sales, it is about better interaction with the full customer base so you actually have real data about the purchasing behaviors and geographic locations of your customers.  You can find ways to get them more involved in the game, bring them back in if they have drifted away, and look to find better ways to bring in new players and keep them buying.


  1. I completely agree. There's so much that's easy, or at least not painstakingly hard to implement or costly, that GW could be doing but they are not and it hurts them, which in turn hurts us as consumers.

  2. Thanks for coming by. Just like the end of metal production. They have an even better idea of who their active specialist games buyers are so they could have easily just emailed in January that they are phasing out production.and to finish up our collections. We would have then got that info out to other people and they could have sold down stuff in a controlled way and not leave so much money on the table.