A Look Inside The Reprint Process
by Andrew Hackard
June 5, 2017
I was looking at our schedule for the second half of 2017, which features a fair number of reprints, and I realized y'all might appreciate a look behind the scenes at how we decide when (and whether) to schedule a reprint.
Every month, Director of Sales Ross Jepson and the business office send me a pair of spreadsheets: one shows our year-to-date monthly sales of every title and the other shows current stock levels at Warehouse 23, PSI, and our various flooring distribution partners (what "flooring" means is a discussion for another time).
This information goes into a spreadsheet I wrote that looks at stock levels as compared with the year-to-date monthly average (or last year's monthly average, in the first quarter of the new year) and the most recent month's sales, figures out how many months of each item we'd have left at current sales rates, and turns that into a projected date that we'll run out. It isn't a sophisticated projection model by any means, but it's good enough that we can usually see an outage coming and decide when (or if) we want to reprint. This involves a certain amount of educated guesswork, but I've been doing this for several years and have gotten pretty good at it, especially with the help of old hands such as Ross, Phil, and (of course) Steve. Our powers combined do a nice job of keeping store shelves stocked with Munchkin . . . and deciding what doesn't need to come back quite yet. The hardest part sometimes is letting favorite games go . . .
Populating the spreadsheet (which doesn't just cover Munchkin) usually takes me between three and four hours, which isn't a lot of time to spend on schedule planning once a month or so. (It was a lot easier when I started doing this, back when we "only" had 20 or so Munchkin titles in our catalog!) If we ever reach the point where AI can do it faster and more reliably, I'll happily turn the task over . . . but for now, I enjoy doing it and we seem to be getting good intel out of the process. We still get unpleasant surprises from time to time, but overall I think we're doing a pretty good job staying ahead of demand.