Despite dire warnings, and weeks spent by comic book retailers trying to educate Penguin Random House about shipping and distributing comic books, when the company took over the distribution of Marvel comic book titles, it was an utter disaster. Across the board, Bleeding Cool received reports of the worst packaging the comic books had ever received, with the inevitable result of waves of shops having their entire orders unsellable, week after week. But that was then, and rapidly things improved. Many retailers still have issues with PRH, and a significant number have returned to Diamond Comic Distributor, now acting as a third party, even though it costs them significantly more.
Might this change things around? Penguin Random House has informed comic book retailers that their packaging is to change again. They state;
We are writing to inform you that we are introducing a new carton-packaging configuration for comic books, beginning with select cartons of your June 15th shipments. The feedback we received expressing concerns about our original shipments last Fall has been immensely valuable in evaluating the effectiveness of our fixes. Since then we have been continuously looking into packaging improvements.
We believe these carton improvements will both minimize potential damage to the product incurred in transit, and reduce unnecessary waste impacting the environment.
What's new about these new cartons?
They include placing a double-walled corrugate liner inside the outer carton, hexacomb padding on the top and bottom, as well as paper fill to provide extra padding for a proper fit.
To achieve these containers, our process has been thorough and unwavering:
First, we worked to design several different carton configurations which were put through rigorous UPS testing, including drop testing and vibration testing.
We then chose the best packaging to conduct an initial round of testing with a subset of both domestic and international customers in the direct market. Our team met with these testing partners to understand each customer's unique inventory review process and received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the packaging solution.
After these results, we broadened the test to ship the new cartons to an additional 500 retailers around the world and requested feedback via an online survey. These survey results were also overwhelmingly positive.
We of course realize this packaging change is major and want to you to know about it early. Our handling and package-engineering practices will continue to evolve, as necessary and appropriate.
Thank you for your insights, your patience—and for continuing to hold us to your highest standards. We will keep listening to you.
That's next week, folks. Do let Bleeding Cool know how this appears when it lands in your store.