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#20240
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
Guys,

This is an ongoing problem that has been hashed and re-hashed on a LOT of threads here on the DF forum.
Unfortunately, until DF can find an international disty that won't screw them, and will take shipments directly from China (and that China will ship TO!), there isn't a lot of hope for improvements. And of course, when crossing international boundaries, the Customs and Duties folks in each nation will hit the shipment, as well - each to their OWN tastes! AND, since USPS Global Express is the only International shipper that DF has had good luck with, they will continue to gouge DF and all of you outside the US for every penny they can get, so they can pay the airlines that drag the Global Express stuff all over the place!
I guess I'm both lucky AND spoilt rotten, since I live in the US and not TOO distant from Knoxville, so I get fast service and reasonable rates. I do TRY not to rub it in too badly, but sometimes I just have to gloat. Please accept my apologies for any injured feelings about it; it's not that I want to hurt anyone, I just LOVE to feel happy about my own situation once in a while!

Anyway, let's keep fingers crossed for Jeff to dig out an international distributor with direct-ship from PRC.

And All of YOU have a Happy Holiday season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate!

See ya!

Jim
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#20241
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
......until DF can find an international disty that won't screw them........
Has this happened in the past? I'm not sure how that could happen.
otherworld
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#20242
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
looks like we're just discussing old news here......kinda sad really, wish there was something that could be done. DF stuff down under isn't all that common partly due to cost, but now with shipping on top, most of the gaming group is happy to use the stuff....but at my expense :)

out of curiosity, i thought this move to direct sales via the net was to cut out the middle man. Is DF even looking for a disty? and if so, what has been the problem in the past? Playing with too big a player, asking an arm and a leg? not that i know that much about the business of distribution. just curious as to how they have been burn't in the past
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#20243
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
OW, lupus;

Yes, to a large extent, this is rehash, but since lupus is a relatively new guy, I'll chew it over again. And, OW, you MAY remember seeing this data here before. At least, I THINK it was here.

What happened was that way back when, DF had a distributor who would bulk buy their stuff and sell it to local shops. HOWEVER, they were taking a HUGE cut of the retail price - to the point that both the retailers AND Stefan - this was set up before Jeff ever came upon the scene - were nearly losing money by selling at MSRP! Stefan was about to go broke, the retailers couldn't move enough product to get a decent profit, and because Stefan was nearly belly-up, he couldn't really afford to order more product from China for the distributor to sell to the retailers! Bottom line, DF was NOT growing a user base because WE couldn't get it to use!
Jeff signed on and became President, Stefan turned the entire business end over to him, and Jeff politely but firmly told the distributor to seek vendors elsewhere, his custom was no longer required; DF went direct-sales-by-Web. Now, that has had some bad effects on international customers, but it HAS allowed DF to stabilize as a business. Several people overseas have come up with the idea of bulk-buying for groups, which (OW, correct me if I'm wrong here!) has allowed users in some countries to reduce their total shipping and Customs costs to a point where they can at least buy SOME DF stuff, sometimes - whereas, before, they lost the ability to afford it after the distributor was dismissed.

OW, anything to add or change here?

JEFF, do YOU have any modifications to my little history lesson? Stefan?

If no one edits, then the class is dismissed for the Holidays; Happy Holidays to ALL OF YOU!

See ya next year!

Jim
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#20244
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
You won't be surprised to hear that I see the story from a different perspective!

Several years ago, in the infancy of Dwarven Forge, Stefan supplied his products to a distributor in the UK who bought a shipping container of product roughly once a year. This relationship seemed to work pretty well as Stefan was able to grow his expanding business, the UK distributor made a reasonable profit, games shops in Europe were able to stock Dwarven Forge and make a small profit, and gamers were able to get their hands on DF at a fair price.

However, this complex relationship broke down when changes were made in the management of Dwarven Forge, and DF decided to supply the new (Fantasy Floors, Fantasy Starters and Sci-Fi) boxed sets to a rival distributor in the UK. The original distributor was not happy about this, and decided that he was no longer able to allocate such a large proportion of his cashflow and warehouse space to a product which could potentially be undersold by a rival distributor. He decided that he would not place any further orders.

Meantime, the rival distributor was unwilling to pick up the reins, and the European distributor chain died. Soon after this, the DF management took the decision to go 'direct' through their website.

The net result of this series of unfortunate incidents is that Dwarven Forge has cut out 2 levels of 'middlemen', and thus makes more money per unit sale, but the business is unable to expand significantly beyond the borders of the USA.

The winners? Well, maybe US mail-order customers, particularly those who were previously unable to buy DF in a games shop before the changes, and DF's courier company.

The losers? All non-US customers who have to take a huge hit in shipping and customs charges, all games shops who are no longer able to stock this superb product, and ultimately Dwarven Forge themselves who are only able to effectively supply their product to 5% of the World's population.

OK, that should stimilate some discussion!
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#20245
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
As you should be Glad about the ease of getting your fix for this most excellent addiction!

Looking forward to meeting and playing with the INSANE GM at shore leave this summer!
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#20246
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
Point of clarity: the European distributor chain that died is the original distributor company, the rival distributor company, or the retail chain?

I understand that international customers are at a significant disadvantage in purchasing DF, but bear in mind that the choices that were made probably saved the company. If DF hadn't gone to direct sales, with a strong pre-order component, NOBODY would be able to buy DF at all. Customs charges are imposed by the receiving nation -- lobby for change. Shipping charges are what they are -- perhaps you can coordinate with other international customers to place bulk orders that lower the overall shipping costs.

I've mentioned this before in another thread, but DF products take up a fair amount of space. A single DF set takes up the same space as a dozen or more rulebooks, for example. Retailers have limited shelf space, and have to choose between stocking a few items or a lot of items -- statistically, they are better off putting fifty books on the shelf than five DF sets to sell enough items to make the rent for the month. It wasn't just the low profit margin that was affecting DF's ability to do production runs, it was also the unwillingness of (American) retailers to carry more than one or two of each set at any given time (which, incidentally, discourages the kind of bulk purchases that online customers have been able to make, AND creates certain perceptions that can be damaging to a company).

In addition to remaining in business, DF has been able keep its prices the same for nearly ten years.

I wish I had a solution to the international thing, I really do. Stefan and Jeff have said on the forum that they continue to try to find an international distributor that can handle their business profitably (for both DF and the distributor). Unfortunately, some potential solutions are untenable or unacceptable. Some solutions are actually prevented by the manufacturer, who is unwilling to do ANYTHING except ship one large container directly to the US.

Hopefully, someone will come up with a solution. A distributor will be found, customs fees will drop, some entrepreneur in Europe will figure out a way to buy bulk orders that lower shipping costs, a network of international gamers will find a way to coordinate their orders, something. Until then, we have to accept that things are the way they are for legitimate reasons, and wrack our brains for a way to bring DF to every corner of the gaming world.
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#20247
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
...and find a way to bring back out of print sets!
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#20248
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
Point of clarity: the European distributor chain that died is the original distributor company, the rival distributor company, or the retail chain?
The original distributor was Gargoyle Games. They're still in business, but no longer supplying RPG materials. When I said that the chain died, I meant the connection from DF to distibutor to retail outlet to customer.

I understand that international customers are at a significant disadvantage in purchasing DF, but bear in mind that the choices that were made probably saved the company. If DF hadn't gone to direct sales, with a strong pre-order component, NOBODY would be able to buy DF at all. Customs charges are imposed by the receiving nation -- lobby for change. Shipping charges are what they are -- perhaps you can coordinate with other international customers to place bulk orders that lower the overall shipping costs.
Lobbying for change on customs charges is not a practical option in this case. What do you think the UK is, a democracy?! The only option for reducing shipping costs would be to introduce an element of competition between shipping companies, but there seems to be no room for negotiation here. A group of French gamers recently tried to arrange a bulk order to save on shipping, but this didn't work out. Ask Tom for details if you're interested.

I've mentioned this before in another thread, but DF products take up a fair amount of space. A single DF set takes up the same space as a dozen or more rulebooks, for example. Retailers have limited shelf space, and have to choose between stocking a few items or a lot of items -- statistically, they are better off putting fifty books on the shelf than five DF sets to sell enough items to make the rent for the month. It wasn't just the low profit margin that was affecting DF's ability to do production runs, it was also the unwillingness of (American) retailers to carry more than one or two of each set at any given time (which, incidentally, discourages the kind of bulk purchases that online customers have been able to make, AND creates certain perceptions that can be damaging to a company).
I was one of this retailers for 7 years. Believe me, if something sells well, you'll find the shelf space for it. I sold a lot of DF from Otherworld Games in Cambridge, and I was more than happy to put it on my shelves. I didn't need to keep a lot of stock, either. With an efficient distributor network, I could restock in 24 hours, and never needed to keep more than 1 or 2 of each set in stock. On average, I would reckon to turnover my stock of RPG books around 4 times in a year. My DF stock probably moved at 5 times that speed! Also, there is no substitute for showing customers the actual product, being able to pick up a piece and see the quality, and seeing a well presented set-up on a demo table.

In addition to remaining in business, DF has been able keep its prices the same for nearly ten years.
That's true, and most commendable on DF's behalf, but with the exception of Games Workshop, that seems to be fairly common in the games industry at the moment.

I wish I had a solution to the international thing, I really do. Stefan and Jeff have said on the forum that they continue to try to find an international distributor that can handle their business profitably (for both DF and the distributor). Unfortunately, some potential solutions are untenable or unacceptable. Some solutions are actually prevented by the manufacturer, who is unwilling to do ANYTHING except ship one large container directly to the US.
Sure, just think how much this stuff would cost if it was made in the USA or UK!

Hopefully, someone will come up with a solution. A distributor will be found, customs fees will drop, some entrepreneur in Europe will figure out a way to buy bulk orders that lower shipping costs, a network of international gamers will find a way to coordinate their orders, something. Until then, we have to accept that things are the way they are for legitimate reasons, and wrack our brains for a way to bring DF to every corner of the gaming world.
Amen to that. I really think that this is the key to Dwarven Forge's future success. I hope Stefan & Jeff agree!
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#20249
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
Not sure about how this all works with regards to other countries, but in Australia, customs duties really doesn't come into play until the orders start getting over the $ 500 AUs mark. Hence, combining orders to save on shipping inevitably ends up with customs becoming an issue. I know this is an issue as I have had to order supplies for my work from the US and the $ 500 Aus mark is a real problem, because not only is there customs duties, there is also a charge incurred for customs having to open the boxes. It gets real expensive, real fast.

At my end, shipping charges are the real issue.

DF stuff for some reason has never really been all the popular in the gaming groups I have had exposure to. I am uncertain as to the reason for this. Perhaps it was the distribution issue. DF stuff never really made it to the shelves at the FLGS. My exposure now, is really through the internet more than anytyhing else. THe loyal following here, as well as the friendly support from DF has made my dealing with the company a pleasure.

LIke I said, shipping is the main gripe. Guess it wouldn't be human not to whine about something. :) Here's to hoping the issue can be solved......more for international orders and not just for European orders. I would like to see DF stuff become more popular down under as well :) For both DF's sake and for selfish reasons :) If there is sufficient market down under, perhaps dealing with DF shipping charges will come down as well :D
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#20250
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
I was one of this retailers for 7 years. Believe me, if something sells well, you'll find the shelf space for it. I sold a lot of DF from Otherworld Games in Cambridge...
Holy Crap!
I knew I recognized Otherworld Games from somewhere! I lived in Cambridge, UK from 1996 to 2003. I was a student at the Uni from 1999 to 2003. I shopped in a your store a bunch, it was THE gamer shop. It was really the first time I was introduced to non-GW miniatures and wargamers terrain, a true RPG paradise. I was really sad to see it close. Especially since it left us with that irriatating "Games and Puzzles" owner.
Cheers,
Sam
ps: The idols arrived yesterday. Thanks.
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#20251
First Time User 7 Years, 10 Months ago  
Wow, it's a small world!

I'm glad you remember the shop fondly. I do too, but it was increasingly difficult to make a decent living in niche retailing in Cambridge. The rents and business rates are just astronomical now, so Cambridge is without a games shop as a consequence.

Although I sometimes miss being my own boss, there's a lot to be said for a good, regular pay packet!
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