It is Small Business Saturday and we’re feeling particularly small at the moment. Like many start-ups, Barry & Jason use the Amazon marketplace to reach new customers. Amazon’s incredible distribution capabilities and low costs on shipping rates typically translate into fantastic opportunities for companies like ours. We’ve enjoyed great success in launching our first two games, Game Night in a Can and Dr. Biscuits’ Radical Road Trip exclusively on Amazon. This year, we doubled our game offerings and released two new games: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Historical Trivia Travel Game in September and Anchorman: The Game in October. Apparently our timing could not have been worse and the reason is ridiculous.
In July, Amazon announced it would be initiating Restock Quantity Limits on all new products. So anything that had never been sold before would be subject to a 200 unit limit. Restocking amounts would be based on sales over a 90-day period. Back in July, Amazon noted that the companies most affected would be “those that were launching a new product in the next 5 months.” Hey, that’s us!
Not only is that us, but we were intending to do so much more on Amazon this year with the addition of two popular licensed properties that are now gaining holiday sales momentum. It turns out they’re gaining momentum just in time for us to miss most Q4 sales online. We took a big swing and Amazon has pulled the bat out from behind us. Instead of calculating estimates based on other party games, or even our own existing games, Amazon is insisting on reassessing each offering on its own merits and sales figures, which, in our case, didn’t exist previous to the Fall of 2020.
Here’s a snapshot that will be outdated as soon as I share it: After selling out once already, we currently have 180 units of our Anchorman Game in inventory according to Amazon. However, none of those units (as of this writing) can ship out to you today. They are currently being moved around within Amazon’s fulfillment centers. If you were to order one today (11/28), you could get yours by 12/5…actually, after refreshing, that has now moved to 12/9. That >10 days is not the expedience that Amazon Prime members are used — and it certainly isn’t what they pay for. If it were up to us, we’d have thousands of Anchorman Games available for sale on Amazon right now and fans of the movie and fans of party games would continue buying them and receiving them in a couple of days for the foreseeable future.
But it’s not up to us. Amazon has calculated (via their self-proclaimed “sophisticated optimization model”) that we have 39 days of inventory on hand — that our 180 games will magically, like so many loaves and fishes, be enough to satisfy the demand of Amazon shoppers throughout the remainder of the Holiday shopping season and into the new year. We sold 46 Anchorman games yesterday and, as a result, are now able to send in a dozen more games (can’t exceed that 200 total!). It can take 2–3 weeks for the inventory we send into Amazon to be made fulfillable through their system. So even if Amazon wondrously comes to their senses tomorrow, we will still miss thousands upon thousands in sales. Conversely, Amazon is asking us to send in 3000 units of Game Night in a Can to meet its estimated demand — because its been there before. Alas, the loyal and rabid fanbase of Ron Burgundy is being completely undervalued.
Despite these challenges, we’re pretty lucky. Target stores carry the Anchorman Game and Barnes & Noble sells our Bill & Ted’s Travel Game. Your neighborhood toy store might have them as well (speaking of supporting small business). Back in August, we saw this coming and converted our website over to Shopify to be able to fulfill orders there. It just all feels very short-sighted on the part of a company that prides itself on logistics and analytics. Most people aren’t even aware it’s happening. This certainly has the potential to impact many shoppers this season as delivery times look to push later and later as well.
We’re grateful for all the opportunities we have. The aforementioned frustrations aside, we’re staying positive and constantly moving forward, albeit slower than we anticipated. We suspect there are small businesses out there who are trying to launch a product and feel cut off at the knees. If you own one such business and you’re reading this, let us know how we can help. We’d love to support and spread the word, if we can.