06 July 2017

What it's like to work for a Video Game Retailer

No matter which one you work for, there are a few core principals that you can expect to see. I will try to list these for you so you can better understand what it is like in case you ever decided to try out one of these jobs, or if you have been curious about them.

I will cover what each position is like, from entry level to Store manager. I have over 4 years of experience throughout my life working each of these roles.

The first topic I would like to explain is sales. No matter what position you work, sales are the never-changing engine that drives the store inside and out.

At lower levels, you can expect to perform with a weekly quota of different variables.
One of my favorite retail stores has always been Gamestop. Though it often gets bashed for its trade-in policies, there are a lot of things that go into keeping a store like that running.

There are different types sales as mentioned before, but each store has the type that they push for the most. Pre-owned games seems to be the number one priority at places like Gamestop or EB Games. The explanation as to why is simple. They can purchase a pre-owned game from someone who comes in to trade them in, and they can re-sell that game for a much higher cost. With new games, there is a set value that they can gain, with no possibility of earning more than that amount. The stores (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, etc.) all buy the games around the same bulk price and make a few bucks when they sell the new copies to customers. With Pre-owned games, they set their buying price and selling price to earn maximum profits while still making sure people want to trade in their games and save a few bucks buying pre-owned.

People often look at it and say, "Why would I trade in my valuable game for so cheaply and let them sell it so much higher? The answer is supply and demand. If you don't want it any more, someone else will. You pay them for the service of reselling something that you no longer care to keep. You could easily go on Craigslist and sell the game for more, but that requires finding a buyer, meeting up with them, and making the sale yourself. It's more reliable to go somewhere that will give you fast cash (Or Store Credit) instantly. At that point, they take on the responsibility of finding a buyer, and if they don't, they lose that money. Often times when a game comes out yearly, the pre-owned game selling companies lose out on money they gave for the previous versions. Think of any sports game. When 2k18 comes out and you sell 2k16, who is really going to want to buy that when everyone else is playing the newest game?

That brings us around to the point. Working at a game retailer like that means you have quotas to push like gaining trade-ins and selling pre-owned. It is one of the most valuable tools to be used for profit, so the store pushes the employees to perform in those areas.

Another selling point in every retailer now (Including online like Amazon) is reserving/Pre-ordering games. By pre-ordering a game, you make a commitment to return to that store and purchase the game. Most places will refund the Pre-order deposit if you change your mind, but the majority of pre-orders become fulfilled as game purchases. This metric is highly pushed at every retailer for that reason alone. Additionally, when a customer comes in to purchase or refund that deposit, they end up looking around the store. This creates more revenue by making upsales on other items in the store. Many times you even are offered deals to trade in old games to gain even more bonus discounts on the game you pre-ordered. It all makes a cohesive circle of sales that gain profits for the store while usually fulfilling the needs of the gamer who comes in to shop.

All of these things are expected to be fulfilled by the employees by leading the customer towards the deals that are provided by the companies. If the employee doesn't meet the expectations, then they may not stay in their position for a very long time.

Another very big sale point the employees have to push is the selling of credit cards for the store. This is no longer a rare thing that few stores have. Just about every store will push this option on customers. The sale of one card is a huge commitment to that store. It's basically saying, I invest my credit towards purchasing mainly at your company, so I will open a line of credit with you to continue this trend. Always expect to be pushed to sell credit cards for your company regardless of whether you're selling video games or otherwise.

No matter where you work in retail, you'll deal with returns and exchanges, and some companies deal in Trade-ins too. You will be expected to be able to speak to customers about what their game collections are worth and break the news of the amounts to them regardless of whether it's great or terrible. Many customers will resent you personally even though the amounts are set by the companies. If you desire to work at one of these places, you'll have to learn to deal with anger and frustration even if you didn't cause it.

Cleaning up.
Every place you work at will have standards of cleanliness and organisation. You'll be required to alphabetize games and vacuum the carpets. You may even have to mop. It's gross sometimes, but that's just something you'll have to deal with.

If you level-up (so-to-speak) and become a manager, things can change drastically. Even at low level management, you are expected to perform better than the newer hires, and you are responsible for making sure that inventory and money stay on the up-and-up. If you are the manager on duty and something goes missing, you're expected to have an answer for why it cannot be found. You'll have to do inventory counts at some jobs, and you are expected to lead your fellow employees to success through training and encouragement. Most importantly, you're expected to show them the way to succeed through example.

The hardest part of being a manager are the way customers will look to you. You make the big decisions when you are in charge. If a customer wants to return an item without the receipt, and they ask to speak to the manager when the employee on register says it's against policy, you're the one to find the best way to make the customer happy while still following company policy. It's a thankless job, but it's exciting when you can reach an understanding that makes everyone happy.

Once you become a store manager or team leader, then everything starts to fall on you. You control the big decisions like Marketing, Profit & Loss, Scheduling, Hiring, Firing, and leading your store to success. After enough experience at lower levels, you'll know what to do, but there are challenges to overcome every day.

Now for the good part.
The greatest thing about working for a Game retailing store is the people. When you're having a bad day, often times you can talk to your customers about things that excite them. You can enjoy having conversations about games that both of you are excited about. You don't have to be in serious mode 24/7 at a game retailing store. If you want to laugh and joke about experiences you had while playing online, you have that option. The fellow employees are also a great stress reliever. Many times in my career, I have relied on my coworkers to help me to enjoy what I was doing. We'd even spend time outside of work together playing games or hanging out. It's a community that you can learn to really love if you're going into it with a real passion for video games or people.

If you are thinking about becoming a video game retail employee, these points are what I feel are the most important things that you should know going in. Just remember, your excitement can travel leagues beyond you when shared with others. So go out there and find a job you love.

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