December 2, 2007

How Bad Do you Want It?

Anybody who has been trying to get their hands on the Nintendo Wii or any other hot piece of electronics knows that it is a challenge. As a side job, I work for a large electronics retailer and have noticed a few things about getting your hands on these devices.

Why there is a shortage:

Before we start with tips on how to get the product we need to realize why these devices are hard to get. The primary reason is basic economics, demand for them is greater than the supply. In the case of the Wii, Nintendo simply can't produce them fast enough (or chooses not to becasue they like the hype high demand creates) So stores will have a limited quantity to begin with. Once the product gets to the store a few things happen.

First, favors are called in. If you do A LOT of business with an electronics store they want to make you happy. I'm not talking spending a few thousand a year, I'm talking about big money. The companies that spend 10k a month every month. The manager wants to keep his big customers happy and all of a sudden we have less of the product than got sent to the store. Then you have to deal with employees. As unfair as you think it is, and as hard as stores try to prevent it, employees will do their best to get the product they want. Employees will call their friends and family as soon as they know it's available, and if possible will buy them (this is how I got mine, I bought it launch day at the full price with a warranty attached) Its a perk of being an employee. Deal with it. Then you have to deal with the crowds of people, who just like you, want the product.

Now this is how you can get one:

  1. If you are calling to ask "do you have X" you probably aren't going to get it. I take calls a lot from people who are looking for these items, and I have never told a person "yes we have them" becasue by the time we get them, and advertise them, they are gone.

  2. You NEED to be ready to stand out in the cold. To get one of these devices, you'll need to be there before the store opens.

  3. Talk to friends who have access to "members only" type stores or the Exchange on military bases (the Navy Exchange here in Honolulu has been one of the easiest places to find them, but you need to be in the military or be the spouse/Dependant of someone in the military)

  4. Check all the stores online ad's the night before they open. Retailers like CompUSA, Best Buy, etc all put their ad's online at 12am EST. Look at the ads, find which stores are advertising, pick one, and head to that store before they open. Don't bother trying to call the morning they open, chances are by the time they can say "yes" you will have missed your chance.

  5. If you are really desperate (or just have money to burn) check out eBay, they will have them, but chances are its going to be at a 100% mark up if not more. As Christmas draws closer, it will get more expensive.

  6. Check out big chain stores that you wouldn't think would carry them. I bet you didn't know that The Home Depot has an electronics department did you? They do, and they sell the Wii. The problem is, becasue they are not the primary retailers for these devices, they are allocated a really small amount. But becasue of the huge popularity of these items, most places try to get some to draw customers in.

  7. Find a friend who works in these stores. "On the record" we don't give the delivery dates for products. Mostly becasue they are a pain to track and if there is a delay, customers get mad. But that doesn't mean we don't know. The department I work in is one of the first to know when product is on order, and when it's received. I know stuff in is the building before the computer does a lot of the time. And I know when we are holding it all in lockup for a big sale. And I tell my friends. None of my friends are still looking for a Wii or other fun toy. While I can't hold the product for them, I can give them an edge so they know when to show up and buy one.

If you follow these, you will probably get what you want. Also, if you get to the store, and wait in line, then still don't get one, don't get mad at the store. They typically have no power over the product they receive, and products like the Wii are in a national shortage.

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