Aug 10, 2015
I love the fact that we have a pair of Product Managers giving us the truth.
Not sure its so much the truth...as it is more their perspective
Joe has outsourced many items to China before going to Micro Trains
OK..but I dont see what that has to do with the preorder debate.
May I echo the same sentiment and facts.
I won't pre-order....period...end of discussion.
Except I have more to say. A sort of warning to all the newbies or recent entrants into model railroading.
When it comes to what I will purchase.
I will wait until I can see it, see it run, hold it in my hand.
Test track, test track and test track it again.
Read the critiques.
Wait until the bugs are worked out of it, if they really ever are.
Some product lines have earned a bad reputation and they've done it all by themselves. I won't order from them, not anymore or any of the new owners who purchased these former providers aka manufacturers rights to reproduce said products. Now announcing better or improved products. Most are not....
We don't need a pre-order system. We need LHS managers, sales representatives, e-tailers who know their customers and what they want. This should be the chain of communication AND YET IT ISN'T.
I've watched for the better part of 66 years various products come along, the hype and energy spent to sell what turned out to be nothing but trash. And modelers are still fiddle dinking with this same junk.
You get what you pay for but it would be wise to know what you are buying and the history of the company behind it. You can ask some of us who've been around and some would say to long. You can ask us what we think. Most of us won't white wash it. You'll get our straight up opinions backed with our experience talking.
When shopping auction websites or swap-meets.
Finally, There's no fool like the one who pays exorbitant prices for a piece of junk. What I find amazing is some of this STUFF is actually selling. I said shaking my head in dismay.
One rule to remember: There's no such a thing as, "New In The Box".
So, there's my take on the subject and I concur with what George, said.
Don't get me started. Oh, you already did.
My best advice: Stick with the quality products and don't even humor the infamous participants on the trading auction websites. Buying a locomotive with DCC, don't mess with the used stuff. Buy from a reliable LHS or E-tailer. Buy brand new, with you being the first owner. Don't buy someone else's headaches.
Need a referral to a good LHS or E-tailer send me your private e-mail. Seems the automated censor works overtime here even on the PMs.
That's my two cents.
That's why we have long running topics in N, HO and O. Some consumers are savvy shoppers. Far too many are not.
Kind of hard to do when most e-tailers ask that you "Reserve" or Pre-order the new item. Otherwise, by the time it arrives, all stock might be accounted for and sold.
Your post only confirms what I said previously. You say $15,000 to tool a freight car. I say that is cheap. That $15,000 can be earned on the first run. The second run will earn you enough to tool a different freight car. If that $15,000 is scary for you then you are woefully under capitalized.
As far as the pool of popular models having already been done that is just wrong as Bachmann proved with the K4. How about a Heisler or Climax to go with the Shay? As for inventory issues, isn't that what a distributor (middleman) like Walthers or Hubert's is for? Is providing a ready available supply for retailers the chief function of a middleman? If not, then what is?
As for minimum runs of several thousand that can be easily handled by innovative marketing. Something that seems to be absent from the skill sets of most N scale manufacturers.
And your No.5 reason, " Modellers: 90% of all sales are within the first 60 days of a product hitting the market - why?" Well it is not because of the answer you gave which was, "...Because the market has gotten used to a lot more product being available so it's the "next big thing" approach...." No, the real reason is that modelers know that if they don't buy it now the product may not be run again for ten years, if ever. So you have this "feeding frenzy" when new models arrive.
As far as details are concerned let the modeler add them. There are many people who don't want details or don't particularly care if a model has them. As an Ntrakker, my stuff gets handled quite a bit between and during shows. I don't want something that is prone to falling out or breaking. So I would rather not pay for them in the first place.
Never heard of a manufacturer sending pre-production samples to an LHS.
Are these sample units intended to be shown to end customers - the actual buyer of the product - or are they to be kept confidential (on a non-disclosure basis) between the manufacturer and the LHS?
Although it would likely lengthen the timeline between product announcement and final production, being able to evaluate a pre-production sample would certainly take some/much of the uncertainty out of the decision whether or not to place a pre-order, for the products of those companies who choose to operate under such a system.
Yes; we leave pre production samples with some large dealers for a period of time for clients to see; we'll be doing so again with our HO scale RDC's in early 2016..... I'm glad 15K, 20K or 50K isn't a lot of money for you; I guess then I'd invite you to put your own money into producing model and sell it in a manner that you like; I'll have a look at what you offer and decide to purchase or not at that time..... (You do realize that's one project and many companies have 5-8-10 projects going on in multiple scales so the investment is rather large... or maybe it's not for you....) Really; it's so easy to sit and make assumptions, cast judgement on levels of profitability and marketing without being involved. Every industry is different and what I and Joe are saying is what we experience in this market, at this time. You can believe what we say or not; It's obvious what I'm trying to communicate isn't helping so once again I will quietly resign from this conversation. Sorry.... I hope the industry can find new ways to return to the days of full shelves of everything under the Christmas tree awaiting your selection at LHS's everywhere - would be nice.... but I can't see it....
Puddy put a point on it. It's ok if you don't like pre orders...we have success with it and our dealers would like us to do even more. This might not work for other mfgs. Offshore mfg has tons to do with how pre orders are handled. We have control because we do the tooling and production here. You can commit to a pre order and China decides...nope, your not going to get it this year because someone else has our attention right now and then everyone is screwed. If you can build your fleet without pre-orders...cool. Also, 15K cannot be made up in one run of much of anything, but it doesn't take long to meet the ROI.
The LHS that carries MTL products in my area wouldn't object if orders for the monthly releases were converted to a pre-order basis, such as is used for the runner packs. While they have adjusted their standing order quantity to closely match the typical quantity bought by the regular customers, every so often they can get caught short on a particularly popular model that sells out quickly from the factory. However, while they might miss a few sales on the especially fast movers, what's more painful for them is getting stuck with a batch of models that nobody seems to want - recall cars such as the Snoboy/Snomaid 2-pack or the UMTA express reefer.
BINGO!!! This is exactly what I and others, have been saying all along. Manufacturers went to off shore manufacturers as they reasoned they could cut costs. Did they? Oh they cut some costs to be sure, the cost of labor for one, but they also incurred new ones that maybe they had not anticipated or if they did anticipate them underestimated them in terms of their amount and/or effect. One of the biggies is control.
Joe said: "You can commit to a pre order and China decides...nope, your not going to get it this year because someone else has our attention right now and then everyone is screwed."
Included with loss of control is loss of flexibility. You are held captive to a production schedule that is set by someone else who also has the power to change it. Getting bumped back in the production schedule can ruin a lot of plans for you as well as your customers.
Joe also said, "Also, 15K cannot be made up in one run of much of anything, but it doesn't take long to meet the ROI." I would think that manufacturers would want to recover their design and tooling costs on the first run because there may not be a second or third.
I keep hearing how manufacturers went off shore. Most of the freight cars I have purchased since the 1970's have been made off shore.
Yes, the mega corporations have moved capacity and assembly work elsewhere. N scale has always been mostly manufactured over seas.
Which makes since since it started in Europe. Also, it seems N scale is still more popular overseas than here in the states. Take Kato for instance.
The lions share of their production capacity is dedicated to Japanese markets. Even most of the (cheap) HO stuff I had as a kid with a paper route in the 70's was made over seas. This isn't something that new actually. It seems the problem is China and how things work over there. Though I've never been, nor wish to visit. It seems
the world works way differently over there. I've talked with a couple of hobby mfg's. I can't believe we get any product actually.
True. We used to see production from Europe, and some from Japan. The problem occurs when they switched to heavily relying upon China, with their much different culture and business traditions.
I agree with you and find this somewhat disheartening. My favorite LHS owner for years now passed and dearly missed. He used to ask me as I visited with him what I might be interested in, keeping a 4x4 card file, noting my wishes and the wishes of his other customers. He had no doubts as to what we were looking for. He once asked me if I'd be interested in a HO, Bmann locomotive a GS4 in the Black, "War Baby" paint scheme. He got a very honest critique of said products and what I thought of them. He didn't order it.
Before I get into this, it isn't personal as far as my arguing with anyone here on TB. Just stating what I think and how I feel, as I see it. You are not required to agree or disagree. Just my thoughts on the subject and a little insight as to how I've purchased my train equipment over the years. Here we go!
Pre-ordering is never a for sure way of doing business. I think this has already been said and I will echo it again, the pre-ordering system has failed and caused unwanted grief for those hobbyist looking for a specific item. A false economy, a false sense of security, a false picture and do I dare continue? Why would any LHS owner buy products that are questionable and he or she knows nothing about. For my part: Pre-ordering a locomotive, I know nothing about........ is STUPID!
I was once asked by a LHS clerk, if he could get in or get me an HO, Tyco, Alco model in would I buy it? As a teen/ youngster I responded, "Not until I test track it." No commitments no obligations. He did get the unit in, I test tracked it and after mowing lawns, polishing cars, picking fruit, driving a tractor with a flat bed trailer, lifting and stacking hundreds of lugs of apricots, apples and pears. Nothing like fresh fruit off the tree...delicious. Then headed for the canneries and SP's local fruit run to Watsonville, Ca. Once there, train cars classified and most headed over Donner Pass to points east. But we are getting away from the original story and point to be made. The locomotive in question. I finally earned enough money to buy it. Turned out to be a pretty good locomotive until a so called friend sent it flying off the table but again that's one of those stories for another time and yes, place. Yes, he's a member of the flying diesel corp. Sigh!
The pre-order system sucks. Like I said earlier the route of communications needs to be from the customer to the LHS owner, via the vendors he purchases from on back to the manufactures of said product or products. You'd think pre-ordering would work that way. I can assure you it doesn't. Months prior to most announcements your LHS is already budgeting and planning his capital expenditures as well as product purchases. Pre-ordering is a monkey wrench for him. What the Pre-order system provides, more then anything else, is a false indicator of the LHS customer base. How can they effectively budget the monies allocated for product purchases when pre-orders are so unstable? One of the reasons many ask for a deposit. How can the local LHS evaluate said products, sight unseen? Do I need to ask? How can you and I the customer evaluate said products? Especially a new item that no one has seen been able to operate. As already discussed here on TB. What we need is a system that will allow the LHS to evaluate said products, show them off to their customers and then order them. Train shows seem to help us get some idea or concept of what's coming down the track. But we need something a bit more concrete. The obvious question and answer here is: The pre-order system tries to answer, How much should I as a LHS owner budget for the untangible? The unknown? He or she can't order on consignment. For example: No owner wants to take the risk of ordering a case of Pennyslvania Box Cars when his or her customer base isn't asking for them and doesn't want them. Just bad business. A good LHS knows his or her customers and will already be tracking said customers and have a good idea what they are looking for and what he can safely buy......and sell. The key here is sell. No shelf queens.
I admit everything is a gamble and a risk. Every business on the face of the earth gambles on their products being what the public wants. Nothing new going on here.
From my experience: Only a few manufacturers are listening to their customer base. Long story but I worked in a hobby shop in Dayton, Ohio and I had the opportunity to talk to numerous representatives. Most in response to my request, indicators as to what our customers were wanting lent me a deaf ear. IE., We need eastern road names! Selling Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific train equipment in Dayton, Ohio wasn't cutting it. We needed CSX, SeaBoard, Norfolk & Western, Norfolk & Southern, Erie Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, NYC, Wabash, Nickel Plate, Florida East Coast.... just to name a few. Saying, It wouldn't do any good if they contacted their superiors and shared such information. What? What? What did he say? Now I don't know if these guys were blowing smoke up my kazoo, playing a game of get your goat or didn't want to face their superiors. I hate bad jokes and saw this as one. It left a lasting impression with me. On the flip-side: Those that did and still are listening, they are setting the bar, providing quality products that are on demand. Micro-Trains, Intermountain, Kato, Mikes Trainhouse, Broadway Limited and some of the other newer mom and pop manufacturers. And yes FINALLY eastern road names. A shout out of thanks to them for lending us an ear.
Again my two cents.
So instead of complaining about the pre-order system... what kind of other ideas would serve the needs of the manufacturer, LHS and modeler? I'm agreeable with BarstowRick with the communications with the modelers & LHS/e-tailer to keep track of their customer likes and desires. But it would be best if the system for keeping track of interests was a statistical modeling software that they could share to better gauge demand. A common program... web-based tool that everyone could access FREE... with regular publishing of stats.
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There's no reason in today's world why we can't do precisely what Calzephyr has suggested. I'm all in favor of a software package, where we could each go to it and submit our likes, dislikes and what we'd like to see next. Computers can sort this stuff out in the blink of an eye. It would be the perfect resource for all involved.
We attempt to do that here on TB but unless we are being monitored by the manufacturers we are just blowing in the wind.
Ken, China is getting a taste of what can be and is exploiting it. I've yet to see anything come out of China but what it didn't cost more. No savings on my end.
Between the production nightmares there, and their rising "standard of living", ( paying higher wages at many factories), their competitive edge has been severely bruised. Hence some manufacturing moves to Vietnam, Mexico, etc. The one thing they are having most troubles with is their ancient (and often corrupt) way of doing business.
So, this 'desires/demand' software would be freely accessible at all LHS's, e-tailers, model rr clubs, warehouses and manufacturer's. Definitely would have to be a kiosk at all rr shows also. The only glitch that I can see cropping up here is the security issue for the manufacturers. They will hesitate so that no two of them are developing and mfging the same thing at the same time.
But those are concern's that a software developer can address, not this fella.