I'm trying to find out some information about various aspects of retailing model railway equipment, so if anyone on here is a retailer (or works for one) then I'd be very grateful if you could share your knowledge!
I don't have any plans to open a shop myself, so I'm not asking for competitive purposes - it's mostly just curiosity. I am familiar with retailing having worked in it as a bricks-and-mortar shop manager and setting up an online store, but in a totally different field (books and music, to be precise) and I'm interested in how that compares to model retailing - I want to understand how the back end of model railway retailing works so that I can understand it better from a customer's perspective.
With that in mind, I'd really appreciate some info on these points:
- Where do you buy from? Do you have accounts directly with all the various manufacturers, or do you use a wholesaler (and if so, who)?
- Typically, what retail margins do you get, and what are the usual trade terms and conditions regarding minimum order levels and payment terms?
- How often do you place orders with suppliers, and how much do you usually order at a time?
- How do you normally place an order? (eg, post, phone, fax, email, etc)
- How do you get stock/catalogue/pricing information from your suppliers? (eg, paper catalogues, electronic data, website, etc)
- How good are your suppliers at keeping you updated with new products?
- Other than model railway equipment, what other products do you stock?
- How do you think that most of your customers perceive model railways?
- Other than other model railway shops, what are your main competitors (eg, do you find yourself competing with toyshops that stock model railway products)
- How, in your opinion, could things be improved from your perspective? What could your suppliers do to provide you with better support and/or enhance your ability to serve your customers?