Diamond Pullbox Aims to Automate the Subscription List
Diamond Comic Distributors has announced plans to create “a cloud-based software application” that will allow customers to update subscription lists and preorder items from their local comic shop (assuming it subscribes to the product). It will be called Pullbox (TM), but no word yet on release date or pricing for retailers or other details. It will be free to use for customers.
(Update: Heidi MacDonald tweeted from the Chicago Retailer Summit that “Diamond is offering Pullbox and ComicsSuite FREE to brick and mortar stores until July 2019. Beta testing begins in June.”)
The functionality will be filtered through “Diamond’s consumer pop-culture website, PREVIEWSworld.com, while also providing comic shop retailers with the back-end tools necessary to manage their pull-and-hold customer base.” Diamond wants to “make the preorder process a much more viable and vital process for the entire comics industry.” Since the big traditional publishers and many local comic shops are still dependent on periodical sales, as this Twitter thread discusses.
Let's address the last, and probably the one I'm going to get blasted over, trade waiting and how it affects retail shops.— Mary - Agent of G.I.R.L. (@sapphicgeek) April 3, 2018
Trade waiting is the practice of someone waiting for a collected edition of a comic as opposed to buying it monthly.
This kind of product, tied into the main distribution catalog, is long overdue, and I suspect most shops have already figured out some way to take email requests from customers, but it will be very nice if customers are able to view and confirm what’s on order for them. ComiXology previously offered a similar tracking service but is shutting it down.
It best suits the habitual buyer, of course, someone who wants to sign up for traditionally published monthly comic series, but that’s the bread-and-butter keeping shops going. I also wonder what’s going to happen when a customer says they want a limited-edition variant cover (one that’s dependent on a shop ordering X hundred copies of whatever to be allowed to buy it). Is there a “reject order” function, where the shop can politely refuse to take a special order? Conversely, what’s going to keep someone from treating this as a wish list without intending to buy all the special items they ask the shop to get for them? (Yes, that’s an existing problem, but an automated, easier-to-use system makes it easier to get into that situation.)
This is a function I’m eager to see:
Track Your Weekly Purchases. Customers will get additional tools to track which titles and products they ordered are releasing that week to stores, see future week’s orders, and more.
Although it doesn’t take into account what happens when you’re the only person to order a copy of book X through your store and it comes in damaged.
This feature cross-promotes another Diamond website:
Synch with Your Participating Local Comic Shop. Powered by comicshoplocator.com, customers can choose a local participating comic shop and synch with them to send their monthly preorders, special orders, and more.
Shops have to pay to be listed on that Comic Shop Locator service, last I heard, so that’s another way for Diamond to encourage payment of those fees. Here are the rest of the planned features:
Manage Preorders. Add titles to your monthly pull-and-hold list, order additional titles and products from that month’s PREVIEWS preorder catalog.
Place Special Orders or Keep a Wishlist. Forgot to order a title or saw something new coming in to comic shops that you want to purchase? Customers can use Pullbox to place a special order with their comic book shop to purchase. They can also keep a Wishlist of other items and then send it to their retailer to see if they have any items in their store.
Enhanced Search and Ordering. Customers will be able to access a more advanced search at PREVIEWSworld.com that allows them to search the complete database of items offered by Diamond and place orders with their local comic shop.
Retail Functions. Retailers will be get a full suite of functions available from the Diamond Retailer Services website:
* Back-end approval of new Pullbox customers,
* Alerts to new orders,
* Set ordering dates, and
* Upload your own ordering requirements and guidelines.
Retailers can synch orders with their initial orders online, or export orders into ComicSuite or other POS software.
Comic-Suite Integration. Seamlessly integrate Pullbox Pull List, Subscription, and Special Orders directly into ComicSuite for approval and ordering, manage new pull-and hold customers, synch customer data and individual orders.
That “upload your own ordering requirements” will be interesting to see, since I imagine it will include the possibility of requiring a customer deposit on pricey or unusual items.