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.
Above the desk hung the Reaper miniatures.
Upon the far wall and beneath the regular d4 through d60 dice nestled our specialty sets, like stone or crystal-shaped.
And I knew where they all were.
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:
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- There’s a die for that.
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.
- Stickers are real time-savers.
Our latest printer types up everything we need (postage, addresses, and tracking information) on one label. I love it!!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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