The Dice Store: Things I’ve Learned from Online Retail

I shambled down to work in our online dice store this morning. There they sat: shelf after shelf of opaque, transparent, swirled, pearlized, and speckled.

Pearlized Gold and Black 4 Sided Dice

Above the desk hung the Reaper miniatures.

Kieron, Ranger

Upon the far wall and beneath the regular d4 through d60 dice nestled our specialty sets, like stone or crystal-shaped.

16mm Solid Metal Dice

And I knew where they all were.

Mostly.

I recalled those days when we first purchased the website, and did not have such order. Instead, we pawed through plastic bags we’d heaped on a spare bookcase and shelf in the barely-lit basement. We often purchased a grab bag of dice from our main supplier, then spent ‘family time’ sorting through a giant pile.

Those dice would then need to have their picture taken and be entered into the computer. This proved a wasteful process overall, since the dice were often leftovers from product runs that the manufacturer would not continue to make.

It’s only taken me a decade, but I feel I’m starting to get the hang of the dice store. In fact, today I thought to create a Top Ten List of Things I’ve Learned:

  1. I have no idea what our customers do with their dice, but almost all of them have awesome e-mail addresses.
    “What do people use the dice for?” is a common question I’m asked. The honest truth is that I don’t know. I assume sets are for gaming, odd dice are for gaming, and …well, the expensive sorts are for gaming. See? No idea.
    Clear Red Double 12 Sided Dice
    No matter what they use their dice for, though, our clientele are clearly awesome people. Even back when most people had e-mail addresses for business purposes only, I noticed our customers favored epic varieties.
  2. Shipping costs money.
    From the boxes to the filler to the cost of shipment itself, we usually break about even or at a loss. Most people assume we’re gouging them (thanks, Amazon) by charging a flat rate of $4.95, but the smallest-sized package pays the United States Postal Service around $3.
    A word of advice if you suspect gouging: buy more if you can or need to. You’ll get the most value for the shipment cost.
  3. Companies (like ours) do get discounts on supplies, shipments, and products.
    When regular humans buy anything at a store, they pay retail cost. Places like Wal-mart don’t pay the same as their customers; the most common markup is double the wholesale price. Therein the profit lies, yes?
    Whenever I think of all the hands a product travels through from factory to retailer, I mentally tack on what each ‘hand’ charges. It’s sickening sometimes.
  4. China is cheating.
    This could be a post in itself. With the success of Kickstarter, many amateur businesses post ideas for dice designs and then arrange for companies in China to make them. China, in turn, spams out e-mails to businesses like ours, offering those products to us at a discount rate. Basically, they take the designs and run.
    Not only that, but they downright lie on customs forms in order to save money. We’ve had it happen with everything we’ve purchased for some trial runs of new products this year.
  5. Despite almost everything being online, a lot of business relationships are built by talking or meeting.
    You know: old school. My husband and I are still surprised when we have to call a company and/or their website is terrible.
  6. There’s a die for that.
    Size Comparison Dice
    Visitors to our store express surprise at all the different dice we carry. I mention that we might sell around 10% of those in one retailer’s catalog; about half of another who only makes two varieties. When people see everything from real Tiger’s Eye sets to large cubes with hearts, I can see why some assume we’ve got everything.
    We don’t. There are many, many more options out there.
  7. Stickers are real time-savers.
    Our latest printer types up everything we need (postage, addresses, and tracking information) on one label. I love it!!
  8. People like free stuff.
    Back when we had more random dice to dispose of, we offered one free die with a $20 purchase. One time a customer complained because her free die had a defect. I’m not sure if anyone purchased dice specifically to get a free one, but I was surprised about the one complaint.
    Of course, I like free stuff, too.
  9. Businesses often fill specific requests.
    We will. Want a note to your recipient? A blue d12 instead of green one? A discount coupon? How about getting your gaming candle cushioned in bubble wrap? We’ll probably do it.
    Granted, we’d have to stop doing freebies if everyone asked, but we’re cool to fulfill the odd one now and again.
  10. The customer is always right.
    This was a hard lesson for me the first few times someone demanded something, like that woman and her replacement free die. Still, makes sense. The customers are the ones keeping the business in business so, as long as they don’t ask for the moon, we’ll keep ’em happy.
    12-Sided Signs of the Planets Astrology Dice

Do you have any questions about dice? Running an online business? Painting a minifig? How about whether it’s a good idea to leap over a burning troll during a dungeon raid?

I may have a die to help answer that.

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Check out what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, November 20: “Utah Mormons: What Do You Want to Know?” I’m still open to questions.

Thursday, November 21: Threwback to that time I wrote an epic poem, “The Ballad of the Garbage Truck.”

Friday, November 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. One year!! Congratulations to Giselle, Bruce, and Michael!

Saturday, November 23: Slipped in one, last complaint about pregnancy in “What Pregnancy is Really Like.”

Sunday, November 24: Nothing

Monday, November 25: “That Awkward First Date,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Tuesday, November 26: “Since the Bombs Fell: Six.” Although I’d love to stay and write in the post-apocalyptic world, I ended this series before it mutated out of control.

Wednesday, November 27: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “Thanksgiving Dinner, a poem.”

 

All photos ©2019 Kevin Owens and Game Master Dice

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

All We Are is Dollars in a Wallet

The husband and I run an online dice store, Game Master Dice. I’ll write about the whole, sordid history of acquisition and the daily running of it one day; for now, I wish to discuss a phenomenon one experiences in sales:

Everyone is a walking wallet.

My husband told me that awhile ago, when I complained about how pressured I feel at stores. These days, I feel it everywhere. Websites, billboards, friends, store aisles -they are all trying to get a bit of my money. No –all of my money. It’s just a matter of who can grab it first with the brightest ad and the most compelling sales pitch.

Most of us learn to resist, mostly. Otherwise we’d not be living with a roof and walls whilst wearing clothes.

But the onslaught is relentless! I know that advertising has been around since before Pompeii. I know that companies have always sought the best way to purchase ad space in our brains. I also know that ads were less insidious, even when the mental takeover involved a catchy jingle.

If businesses could, they would literally brainwash us to buy. I incorporated that idea in my serial science fiction story.

I’ve thought about all these sales tactics lately because we’re trying to ramp up sales in the dice store. We are therefore pulling out the tricks I use(d) when doing paid content writing: keywords, tags, linking, Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook…

We want to make a living, but sales and marketing have always made me uncomfortable.

My consolation is that we’re marketing to people who want to purchase what we sell. They’re going online to find a dice set or a Reaper miniature or a dice cup, and we’re trying to point them down our little aisle of the internet. It’s not like we’ve popped up during their drive with a BUY OUR DICE NOW!!

Right?

I remember a job interview waaaaay back when, during which they asked me if I’d be comfortable selling their product to customers who called in. I had nailed the interview up to that point; I knew it. My answer to that question, I also knew, shot me right in the foot.

So how comfortable do you feel advertising? Do you tell friends and neighbors about a great deal without any qualms at all? Would you rather stay out of the Rat Race entirely and go live on Walden Pond?

If you get 10 of your friends to read and comment …yeah, nevermind.

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If you read what I wrote this week, I guarantee you won’t be pressured to purchase anything:
Wednesday, July 24: “Summer Days Ain’t Lazy at All.” I complained about pregnancy.

Thursday, July 25: “The Top Ten Reasons I Can’t Write Romance.” Also complaining, but in a humorous way.

Friday, July 26: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Rasmus K. Robot and Charles!

Saturday, July 27: Announced the 36th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is your ‘favorite’ relative (who’s really not). PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, July 28: “One More Day,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt. Someone else was complaining.

Monday, July 29: An inspirational quote by Joseph B. Wirthlin. He says to stop complaining.

Tuesday, July 30: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Eight.”

Wednesday, July 31: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Manic Kids? Try Snacks!,” “Why the Heck Would Anyone Get Pregnant?,” and “Pregnancy Limerick.”

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens