The 40k Bits Stork flies by night...
A few weeks ago, I thought it might be interesting to ask a couple of bits providers three simple questions about what they do. Nothing crazy or in depth, just some insight to the other side of the table. I mean I buy them all the time for projects, but what about the guy who's selling them to me... what does he think?
I contacted a handful of "bits" providers and managed to get a few replies. What follows are the thoughts of Battlefront Games and Wargamers World, both were kind enough to reply to my questions.
What is the one thing you think is absolutely necessary for a bits service/provider to do/have?
Tough question to answer as I personally have a set of standards and rules that I always try to achieve. I must say value for money is a must especially in today's markets where everybody is being forced to tighten their belts! I also I believe having good customer service skills with the ability to communicate with your customer is high on the list.
Selection. For every major army, I try to carry bits from EVERY plastic kit available. We are always trying to bring in more and more selection for our customers. It's a slow, ongoing process but you have to do it in order to keep yourself in the minds of the consumer.
What should someone who is hunting for bits know or have before going out there to look for the bits they need?
A list of bits or names for the bits always helps - if they are old and OOP bits or hard to find bits a photo is still the best way - it can be a photo of a made or painted model as long as it shows the bit in question, it is great as it gives the seller a better understanding of what is needed. I get the odd request for a old OOP bit and the person requesting it either gives the wrong name or cannot remember the name and an off the cuff description - this can go wrong in so many ways, so a list for new/newish bits and a photo or a proper description of what part is needed.
Understand the process. It's problematic for bits dealers to take kits like Land Raiders or Valkyries and sell each, individual piece or component on its own. That would leave most of us left with a large amount of multiple items that don't sell and that can hinder our ability to get more bits in. Don't think we don't want your business just because we can't sell you one top plate from the left sponson of a Land Raider.
If you could offer one bit of advice to someone looking for bits, what would it be?
Buy from Wargamers World. On a serious note though, look around the net, don't just shop from your own country. Sometimes it is cheaper to shop outside.
Get together with friends or gaming club members and order your bits en mass. Battlefront Games offers free shipping on U.S. orders over $30 and we have low, flat rates for the rest of the world. Also, inquire about setting up a regular discount for your club or group. The promise of additional income would interest me in offering an additional discount or free shipping. Just be smart about it.
Selling bits is just like any other business. There is competition and prices tend to be all over the place. People should try and find a dealer that they are comfortable working with and then develop a good working relationship. Loyal customers are the lifeblood of any business. Also, consider other things in addition to price. How quickly to they ship orders? How much do they charge for shipping? Customer service can be just as important as price. Ebay offers great feedback about sellers, that can be a big help when figuring out where to spend your money.
So there you have it, a tiny glimpse into what your bits dealer is thinking and trying to deal with in providing you that one piece you must have.
It can be interesting to look at the process from the perspective of trying to supply the bits as opposed to trying to get your hands on them.
Something to keep in mind next time you place that bits order from your favorite vendor.