With (exclusive) content being all the rage as far as the internet is concerned, Ed Fries states that “some of the retailers need to become like distributors to have a place in the future, and I just think the smart ones are seeding that path with digital.”
Obviously, and if a games retail company was really smart, then they would endeavour to develop their own game, and have exclusive content and products that none of their competitors are offering. In the long run, this would enable them to retain a competitive edge, and have a more refined USP.
Whilst most game retail companies (like CEX) consider growth as growing in store count, it is debatable as to whether they have done anything that really distinguishes them from the competition. Most game retailers product portfolio can be sourced from other retailers (Game, Cash Convertors) and online sites (Ebay, Amazon), and their business practices from which the bulk of their revenue comes from (of buying and exchanging second hand games) are hardly revolutionary and are easily replicable. To that extent therefore, and whilst I am not doubting a game retail company’s ability to be good at what they do, they lose their competitive advantage.
Games retailers need to understand that it is no longer an option to just have a store (or a portfolio of stores). Store owners need to take active steps to embrace new business practices and seriously consider the notion of improving their skillsets so as to retain any semblance of a competitive edge.
If the adage of “quality and not quantitiy” can be applied, then retailers need to realise that growth does not always involve an increase in bodycount and an increase in employees. Many of the more forward thinking companies have a considerably lower headcount than other more established industrial juggernauts (such as Microsoft VS GM Motors), and yet make more money per head as a consequence.
Retail may not have the most illustrious and glamorous of reputations as an industry, but with many industries converging, it makes sense to consider games retail as being capable of being more than the sum of its parts.
Anyone with a modicum of business and creative acumen must realise that the internet and digital distribtion offers a wealth of opportunities. If games retailers are to grow, then they must embrace these new and emerging technologies and utilise these creative strengths for the benefit of their own business agenda. Companies must realise that the only way they can do this is by actively encouraging their employees to develop their skillsets, or by hiring higher calibre staff.
Intelligent individuals aren’t really that expensive to hire. They may not be as easily manipulated, but that’s a strength that companies just cannot choose to ignore. Apart from finding new and improved ways to increase efficiency, many intelligent individuals also offer new and exciting solutions which their parent companies can adopt.
There is no glory in wishing to remain as an unskilled till-monkey for the rest of your life. Any individual worth their salt would want to grow and develop their skillset in order to become more valuable. Companies must actively encourage this, and not consider their employees as a disposable resource. And if a company is to seek a symbiotic relationship with its employees, then it must stop treating them as mere fodder. Here, I am thinking of Nintendo. There would be no Nintendo without Shigeru Miyamoto, and there would be no Shigeru Miyamoto without Nintendo.
Creative and intelligent people don’t always run off with all the best ideas. If you treat them right, and encourage them to develop themselves to the best of their abilities, then you’ll find that the vast majority of them will be more than happy to stay. And you never know, you might just find that you’ve been sitting on a golden goose (and an industry star) all along.