Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Has kickstarter created the “Privatiation of retailing for customers”?


The biggest issue of late about kickstarter has been the issue of Kickstarter “taking the cream off the top of the sale” business model.  But what if Kickstarter has caused the “ Privatization of retailing for customers”?  Privatization as defined by Wikipedia is the process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency, public service or public property from the public sector (a government) to the private sector, either to a business that operate for a profit or to a non-profit organization. What many have been accusing Kickstarter of is doing something similar to that. Kickstarter is taking the “ownership of the sale” from the retailer and placing it in the hands of the manufacturer.  This places the manufacturer in the sale role as the retailer, which of course upsets the retailer. Who owns the customers, if a product can never/will never be sold in a retailer location and only from the manufacturer directly?

Many retailers have complained with manufacturers becoming retailers (but many retailers don’t seem to have this same complaint with Apple doing this) but with the recent release of Marvel Comic new Marvel InfiniteComic line, I have to wonder what might be the future of retailers in the comic space which of course would come to the gaming space.  If Marvel has decided that the “infinite canvas” is the future of their products, where does that leave the retailer?  While I think of the whole infinite comic look reminds me a little too much of the late 1960s Marvel Comic cartoon where they use the artwork and simulated motion to make it “animated”, many feel this is the way of the future. What is old is new again. The Infinite comics give you the “perception” of movement but without those costly animators.

Now here is something that will sound even crazier, but what if Marvel Comic started doing retail stores? Now many retailers are laughing right now saying it would never happen. But what if Marvel copied the Best Buy / GeekSquad business model? Marvel open stores inside of other retailer store locations. Maybe 500 sq.ft to a maximum of 1,000 sq.ft is this locations size. These stores only focus on selling the “best” of the new comics and graphic novels only. Marvel gets to sell in stores; the store get comic fan base as customers; Marvel make a better percentage selling direct to customers; The store gets a percentage of the sales from Marvel. And where does this leave the current retail model? Video game companies have been doing something like this for years in GameStop. Why could this not work in coming and gaming stores? Maybe Marvel stores in Disney stores?

The part that really makes this whole think interesting to me is that Kickstarter and the other various online crowd funding copy cats are the real power in all of this. They use the “Hostage” or “Patron” business model and updated it for the 21st century. So if you have a good idea, can make a good video, have a large enough “tribe” of followers, and can amplify you messages “loud enough” then you can success at this over and OVER again. While many of these Kickstarter do have retailer rewards, I have heard responses from retailer saying they would not support Kickstarter projects (see my post on February 6, 21013 labeled “Angry retailer tells me how he feelsabout Kickstarter, Paizo, Free RPG Day and his customers…”).  It looks like Kickstarter, retailers, and manufactures are headed to a showdown that somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose it all. So what do you think? What do you think about the “ Privatization of retailing for customers”? Talk to you later…