At the recent Baltimore Comic Con, Diamond Comic Distributors held a retailers summit, during which they made the case for… Diamond Comic Distributors. At a time when Dark Horse has joined Marvel Comics and IDW as going exclusive with Penguin Random House, with Diamond now a third party distributor, as DC continues distribution with Lunar which Diamond has only the UK access to, and more publishers drop the Diamond exclusive to be distributed by Lunar as well, it is the time for Diamond to make what case it needs to, to stop losing business. As it stands, Diamond offered the following bullet points.
- Over 2,500 individual items are offered each month from around 150 different publishers and manufacturers
- Diamond remains the only full-service distributor, carrying the largest selection of comics, collections, related collectibles and supplies
- Over 38,000 products are available for reorder
- Weekly deliveries from 6 different printers and 30-60 other suppliers that arrive within 3 days to a few hours before the products need to be processed and on the line to be picked and shipped to retailers
- Non-printer damage rate is less than 1%, even with multiple complicating factors
- Zone skipping via 12 full, 18-wheel trucksZone skipping, the process of trucking product closer to its final destination before handing it over to UPS for final delivery, is used to reduce cost and damage risk by limiting UPS handling.
- Represents more than 75 individual truck shipments each week to larger customers
- Network of drop points to areas with higher concentrations of retailers
- This reduces freight costs, damages and increases reliability of deliveries
- 1.07 million pieces distributed in an average week
- 900,000 new releases
- 170,000 from Diamond's immense backstock of 38,000+ products
But that's the past and present. Going forward, Diamond states that
- New contracts have been signed with partners to expand our delivery options to the USPS and others to reduce costs and increase reliability
- Retailers have received a survey to gauge interest in additional drop points
- For a nominal fee, retailers with less time-sensitive reorders will be able to have their shipments combined with a future weekly shipment to reduce freight costs
- Diamond's acceptance of ACH payments will be expanded to customers buying via COD, eliminating the COD fees charged by UPS
- ACH AutoPay will allow customers on 7-day or better terms to have their payments automatically withdrawn from their checking account if they choose
- Diamond's Retailer Services Website, the most useful and comprehensive site designed solely with Direct Market retailers in mind, will see further improvements
- Box Level Detail will be phased in between 4Q22 and 1Q23 and will show the contents of individual boxes, dramatically streamlining retailer processes
- A breakdown will be available for each invoice's freight charges, allowing retailers to see the individual box charges and properly allocate freight to product costs
- A new report will be available showing all outstanding reordered product and its current status, minimizing the risk of retailer error and allowing consumers waiting on special orders to be better informed by their retailer
However, shipping costs still bite, while the likes of Penguin Random House offers free shipping. They stated "Diamond is the only distributor in the Direct Market that offers this scope and scale of products and services. However, this level of support and selection substantially increases Diamond's expenses. And while there have been significant increases in staffing, utility, transportation, rent, raw materials, and other costs, Diamond's margins have stayed the same. By focusing on directly supporting the Direct Market via distribution, product selection, and services rather than creating a robust direct-to-consumer business with better margins, Diamond has less opportunity to subsidize freight. We are working diligently to deliver more transparency around freight, and we will continue to invest in the Direct Market with the products and services that are vital to the long-term health of our industry."
While they were at it, Boom Studios' President Filip Sablik – who has stuck with Diamond as their exclusive distributor, and recently renewed their deal., stated that thanks to their being one of Diamond's Deluxe publishers now, products will not be charged the typical 3% reorder fee. Sablik also announced that they would be offering a 2% freight rebate to help retailers offset increasing freight costs, to take effect in January, 2023.