- Posted by Johanna on September 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm
- Category: Comic News
Marvel recently announced that they would give new comic store owners three free months of Marvel Retailer Resource Center support.
Last time I talked about the MRRC, I found out that it was a program that builds store websites for retailers. Now, this is following in long footsteps. Back in the day, Marvel actually had to set up a program to help retailers buy cash registers, because many of them were proverbially using cigar boxes to manage their money. So now that we’re in the 21st century, a website is required for any business, and Marvel wants to help. That’s great.
Unfortunately, the execution is a little different. The cash registers didn’t have big glowing Marvel logos all over them, and you didn’t have to jump through an extra hoop to ring up any non-Marvel comics you happened to sell. That’s not the case here. Check out either of these demo store websites Marvel mentioned in the PR they sent out. They scream “I only sell superhero comics! Don’t shop with me for anything else!”
Heck, the NewCastle site doesn’t even list any products that aren’t Marvel. Actually, they don’t list any Marvel products, either, since the “Marvel products” default page is noticeably badly designed and doesn’t show you anything unless you pick the right date … and it starts over a year ago, which is a dumb default. Meanwhile, the “Other products” page on the Samurai site is blank, reinforcing the “Marvel only” message.
Now, maybe that’s a message these retailers don’t mind sending. Maybe that’s their core customer base, and this is no different from putting a painted Spider-Man in your store window, as many used to do. But take a closer look — the title of these websites is “Marvel”. The URL is “marvelretailers.com”. That’s going to make it difficult to do effective search engine optimization based on their individual store brand.
At least the hours, location, and contact number are front and center of the home page. Overall, though, this is a lackluster, boring web presence that says “I couldn’t bother to put up my own web page.”
There’s still no word on how much this costs, although “Marvel incentivizes all retailers with enough product to make the MRRC virtually pay for itself!” “Incentivize” as a verb makes me itch. And “virtually” allows for a lot of wiggle room — your website should be considered a necessary marketing expense, not something to try and get for free or cheap. The program also offers some additional benefits, according to Marvel:
Get a first look at Marvel’s newest titles a week before they go on sale. Keep up to date on Marvel’s wide range of retailer incentives. Access the most up to date information on Marvel FOC and On Sale titles, simplifying your weekly ordering process.
I think some retailers may find it worth the money just to read Marvel comics early, since the print program was abolished. But should accurate ordering information be something retailers have to pay for? There’s a demo slideshow, narrated by Joe Quesada, at the Marvel site, but I couldn’t get it to load beyond the first two slides.