As a bonafide retailer of Pokemon and other TCG products, managing the demand for popular releases has always been a struggle. It may not seem obvious to the average consumer but there truly is no easy solution to this dilemma. Shopping bots continue to be a problem and are very difficult to counter. Even without the use of shopping bots, customers can be very creative in the ways they manage to cheat the system.
Throughout the industry, a variety of order management systems have been tried. Some retailers use exclusive membership-based programs. Others use a more traditional approach and simply accept pre-orders months ahead of time. Both strategies come with their own unique set of issues.
From our perspective, the most effective strategy has been a manual one. Curating a list of customers and distributing the product as fairly as possible has always yielded great feedback from our supporters. This strategy, of course, is not possible at scale. Especially when dealing with a massively popular set.
For this reason, we are launching our latest experiment: pre-order reservations. This system can be thought of as a raffle. It is completely free to participate. You purchase the reservation for $0.00 and your information will be entered into our database. Once we receive the product, we will randomly select people from this database and these people will be given the opportunity to place an order.
It’s important to understand that a pre-order reservation does not guarantee access to product. It simply offers you the chance, if selected, to purchase product once it is released. There is no obligation to purchase the product. If you are selected, and no longer wish to purchase the product, you can simply ignore the e-mail and the offer will be passed to someone else within 48 hours.
One of the advantages of this system is that we can use new technologies to filter the entries for dishonest customers. People who register using fake names, fake emails, fake addresses, or variations of these are easily detected and excluded from the raffle.
If you have any suggestions for this system, or any ideas for a better way to do this, please feel free to let us know.