Android: Netrunner LCG – Chrome City Data Pack
Archer: The Danger Zone! Board Game
Clue: Supernatural Collector’s Edition
Jumbo RPG Dice Set of 7 – Opaque Green with White
Jumbo RPG Dice Set of 7 – Opaque Red with White
Jumbo RPG Dice Set of 7 – Opaque Purple with White
Jumbo RPG Dice Set of 7 – Opaque Blue with White
Relic: Halls of Terra Expansion
Star Wars LCG: Evasive Maneuvers Force Pack
The Lord of the Rings LCG: The Morgul Vale Nightmare Deck
The Lord of the Rings LCG: the Blood of Gondor Nightmare Deck
The Lord of the Rings LCG: Assault on Osgiliath Nightmare Deck
The Lord of the Rings LCG: Encounter At Amon Din Nightmare Deck
Zpocalypse: Aftermath Z Team Beta Game
Zpocalypse: Aftermath Z Team Alpha Game
Zpocalypse: Horde in a Box
Zpocalypse: Zmergency Hospital
Android: Netrunner LCG – Chrome City Data Pack
A Game of Thrones LCG: The Blue is Calling Chapter Pack
Café International: Das Kartenspiel
Fifth Edition Foes (5E)
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Translucent Smoke/Gold
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Translucent Pearl/Gold
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Translucent Blue/Gold
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Translucent Red/Gold
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Opaque Green/White
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Opaque Red/White
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Opaque Black/White
Jumbo Countdown 55mm D20 – Opaque White/Black
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
Mysterium (Tajemnicze Domostwo Polish Version) – Restock
Superfight: the Red Deck
Superfight: the Orange Deck
Superfight: the Purple Deck
Superfight: the Blue Deck
Superfight: the Green Deck
Superfight: the Core Deck Expansion 1
Swords and Wizardry: Complete Rulebook
Tigris & Euphrates
One of the things that i occasionally think about when writing the blog is whether I’m providing too much information. Not so much for my competitors as for my customers – the entire issue of explaining how a sausage is made. Of course, we aren’t making sausages but at times, I’m not sure it makes much sense to provide vast swaths of information either to current & potential customers that they might not want or need.
It’s quite clear we run a business. Like most for-profit businesses, the goal is to make as much profit as possible. Since the sole-owner of this business is myself, that translates eventually to making myself the most money. On the other hand, stating that fact up-front can annoy people or put them off. Sure, we all understand that businesses are there to make a profit, but flaunting that fact can often be a detriment. Small businesses are meant to be an underdog – underdogs don’t drive Porsche’s. (And no, I don’t drive a Porsche. I’ve got a 10 year old Honda Civic if you’re curious). Still, it’s one of the reasons why I don’t talk about our actual sales here – it’d be counter-productive.
Another aspect of the business that doesn’t seem to make any sense to go into too much detail is the margins. I’ve talked about it before, about the way choosing the right markup is important. I’ve also talked about the pressures from customers who would always prefer a lower price, and to some extent, the pressures from our publishers / distributors as they increase costs to us. Yet, breaking it all down doesn’t seem to affect or benefit sales and might even harm them, as customers start feeling put-upon.
Then there’s the boring things that we do on a regular basis. Who wants to read about cleaning toilets or chasing off the homeless from our docking bay? Of cleaning up wastes and other, nastier items. Or how often we have to do stock counts and re-arranging our warehouse to make things work just a little more efficiently? Or the numerous phonecalls and excel sheets we use to keep track of data. None of that is either exciting or interesting, and it takes away some of the ‘magic’ of making things work.
Of course, there’s the other side of the equation. The blog itself isn’t too prominent and those who come here to read are interested in details about the business. Compared to the vast majority of our site visitors, actual visitors to the blog are miniscule. So perhaps these people really do care about our the boring aspects of business.
Doomtown: Reloaded – Expansion 5: Frontier Justice
Force of Will CCG: Starter Deck Series One
Noir: Black Box Edition
Star Wars: Armada – Assault Frigate Mark II Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Corellian Corvette Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Imperial Fighter Squadrons Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Nebulon B Frigate Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Rebel Fighter Squadrons Expansion Pack
Star Wars: Armada – Victory Class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack
Tentacle Bento: Takoashi University: Dodge Ball
Tentacle Bento: Takoashi University: School Band
Tentacle Bento: Takoashi University: Study Hall
Transylvania: Curses & Traitors
Putz die Wutz
Alien Frontiers: Expansion Pack #3
Napoleon at Waterloo (New Edition)
Nothing Personal 2.1
Nothing Personal: Young Turks
Pot Farm: The Board Game
SW: Hell on Earth Companion LE (HC)
SW:Hell on Earth: The Worms’ Turn LE(HC)
Spielbox Magazine: Issue 1 (2015)
Warmachine: All-in-One Army Box – Cryx
Athlas: Duel for Divinity
DC Dice Masters: Justice League Dice Building Game Starter Set
DC Dice Masters: Justice League Foil Pack
DC Dice Masters: Justice League Play Mat
DC Dice Masters: Justice League Team Box
DC Dice Masters: Justice League Collectors Box
Eggs and Empires
Legion Star Realms Flip Box
Mage Wars: Arena Forcemaster vs Warlord Expansion
Mage Wars: Arena (Core Set)
Mage Wars: Arena Playmat – Salenia
Mage Wars: Arena Playmat – Straywood Forest
Mage Wars: Arena Playmat – Salenia
Mage Wars: Arena Playmat – Westlock
Sheriff of Nottingham Official Playmat
Stuff and Nonsense
Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault (2nd Edition)
Super Fantasy: Night of the Badly Dead
The Pirate’s Guide to Freeport
Three Cheers for Master
X-Men: Mutant Revolution
I’m going to get a little technical here. I’m going to talk about online marketing and attribution. Firstly, as an online store, we are able to track a lot of the data from visitors who come to our site. There are 2 major ways this data is collected – logs & cookies. Log files tracking basically runs on the basis of tracking the requests a customer makes to our server. Every time you load a page, you request information from us to load it – we can track this data and theoretically assign it to individuals. With cookies, we drop a ‘cookie'; a piece of code into your browser which tells us what you are doing on our site. Cookies are also useful for minor things like keeping track of what you have in your cart, whether you are logged in and the like.
The big difference between cookies and log file tracking for the purpose of analytics is that customers can clear or refuse to take cookies at anytime. If you do that, we can’t track your data if we are just using cookies. For log files, because you have to call information from our site, we can track every visitor. The minus of course is that it’s very hard to track visitors over multiple sessions. And yes, I’m simplifying greatly. If you’re curious, Starlit Citadel do a bit of both.
As an online store, what we want to know / attribute is what kinds of marketing work for us. We want to know if advertising on Facebook makes a difference rather than say, Youtube advertising. I’ve discussed these kind of decisions before, but let’s talk about one of the biggest ‘plagues’ for us – attribution.
Traditionally, the only way to tell why a customer purchased was via their last clilck – the last place they came from. This meant that if a customer came to us straight from a bookmark and/or typed us in directly, we’d consider them a ‘direct’ sale and if they came from a Google search, we’d attribute the sale to Google. Of course, how many of you have read an article or thought of a store you wanted to visit, typed in their name in Google and gone to the store that way? I know I have, numerous times. Now, we’re attributing a sale from other forms of marketing (say a mailer sent to you) to Google because that was the ‘last click’.
In the past, we could filter some of these out by ignoring any searches that used our brand name. These days, Google has removed all that data, ‘stripping’ it in from the information that gets sent to us in the quest for privacy (really, just to make us pay more for advertising).
These days, more information is being added by tracking visitors when they leave the site. For example, Google now ‘tracks’ other interactions, keeping data and how you interacted with our other forms of media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Again, there’s a lot of leeway here – you could see a Twitter post by Starlit but you don’t click on it, so it wouldn’t get tracked. Still, it does keep track of what you interact with, before you buy.
Now, let’s step outside of talking about our main tracking platform (Google Analytics) and talk about advertising networks. Most other advertising networks, for their own reasons, track conversions. These conversions can vary depending on how they attribute the data and it can often not lineup with the data you get from other analytics you might have.
Advertising networks might be attributing conversions over a period of time (i.e. you clicked on an advertisement they served, so if you buy in X days, they’ll consider it a ‘win’ for them), based off impressions that you might have on the advertisements and the like.
At the end of the day, when you are looking at this information; you need to work out which data you trust, understand what the data that you are trusting is based on and then, most importantly, decide what your cut-off point is. Are you willing to take an ROI of 3? 5? 10?
2 Inch Battle Foam Large Pluck Foam Tray (BFL) 15.5W x 12L x 2H
Battle Foam: Star Wars Armada Foam Tray Kit
Dungeon Fighter: Stormy Winds Expansion
Lords of Scotland
Android: Netrunner: The Root Playmat
Android: Netrunner: The Masque Playmat
Android: Netrunner Creation and Control Playmat
Android: Netrunner Root Playmat
Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition – Dark Elements
Android: Netrunner – Feedback Filter Playmat
Cheesonomics (North American Version)
Descent 2nd Edition: Campaign Books – Heirs of Blood
Imperial Settlers: Why Can’t We Be Friends
The Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion
Neuroshima Hex 3.0: Uranopolis
Star Wars: Armada – Dice Pack
Our financial year end for our 8th year came to an end March 31, 2015. We’re still finishing up the books, but as always this time of year makes me wonder about the business and the choices we’ve made. Over the years, we’ve tried a lot of things – some that didn’t work, some that did and have left even more roads unwalked. Reflecting on the past is often just a waste of time, as the ‘what if’ game is useless but sometimes it can be useful to consider for what you intend to do in the future.
For us, the biggest decision point recently was deciding not to become a full B&M store, instead moving to a new warehouse to facilitate growing a second business (Fortress Geek). I’m still uncertain if that was a good idea, though the 2nd business has finally gotten some decent traction and sales. It’s been a bit of a learning curve there, and we’ve still got a lot more to learn and grow but we’re developing the business and our customers there.
For Starlit though, not being a B&M store has cut us off huge areas of the ‘gaming’ industry. We can supply RPGers without a problem, but CCGs and Miniatures are large sources of revenue, but neither of those are properly supported by an online store. We can supply the product, but both niches require tablespace and opponents to play with. Neither of which unfortunately an online store can provide as much.
Add the fact that Magic is the juggernaut in the gaming trade and we’re basically trying to build a business with 2 out of 3 legs cut off. Sorry RPGs – you just no longer provide enough revenue that you are considered an essential part of a gaming business. Don’t get us wrong, it’s certainly possible but more difficult and it means the ‘pie’ is smaller than it could be.
Another road we’ve not taken is that of investors. So far, we’ve been financed entirely from profits and my personal funds. Investors would allow us to grow faster, take more risks, push marketing harder – but they also come with their own burden of regulations and requirements. It’s something we’ve considered occasionally, but giving up ownership of the company is something I have refused to do. So far, anyway.
We’ve got a couple of years on our current lease (before our extension option kicks in) and it’s interesting to consider what we need / might / should do in the future. I know for certain that we’ll be fine till then in this space, potentially longer – but perhaps we do want to move and make another big change in 2017. It’s nice to plan and think about, and sometimes the roads not taken previously is the way to go. Or perhaps those roads weren’t taken for a reason.