Best Buy, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and just about every other major retailer that carries video games announced again this week that the Nintendo Switch is back in stock. I’m speculating here, but I’m sure most of you have seen articles and Twitter posts pop up on the regular regarding additional stock of Nintendo’s newest product. I’m willing to bet it has happened at least once or twice in the last week. Here lies the problem. Nintendo needs to abandon the dusty “out of stock because it’s selling like hot cakes” model and get back to refining it’s newest hit. We know you have more product, just get it to the stores already.
The "low availability equals greater exposure" practice is not only antiquated, it’s just plain ignorant. Nintendo revolutionized this business practice in the 90’s with just about every console it’s ever sold. It was genius, but that was twenty years ago. Using this same tactic in a speedy manufacturing rich economy makes the company look like the guy who knows it all, but really doesn’t know anything. Now I can understand the lack of availability upon its initial release. Markets are difficult to judge, as you wonder if one part of the country will buy more over the other and vice versa. It’s completely understandable during the first week of a product launch. Nearly a month later is completely different story and unacceptable at best.
The transportation industry is extremely efficient these days. Products can move from manufacturing plant to retail distribution facilities within a matter of days. If Nintendo really wanted the Switch on retail shelves quicker, they could probably cut their transport time in half and have the shelves filled within a 48-hour window. Rather, Nintendo wants to continue to create the perception of value by supplying major retailers with a handful of consoles at a time. The consoles come in and sell out within a matter of hours. They wait a few days, then repeat the process. The ironic part of all this is most of these consoles end up on the secondary market with a rather decent margin included for the seller. Ultimately, Nintendo is harming themselves in the long run.
Nintendo finally comes back from the grave with the Switch and perhaps the greatest The Legend of Zelda title ever created with Breath of the Wild. What do they do with it? Nearly squander the opportunity with outdated business practices. I’m not quite sure why they continue to risk their most recent success with outdated marketing schemes that your average buyer can see right through.
Nintendo needs to pack the shelves, give dedicated fans the opportunity to purchase one, allow the curious buyer an opportunity to make an irrational purchase, and ultimately sell more units in the long run. If anything, they should just be upfront about the stock availability. Either that or the consoles are really made by tiny elves that live at the North Pole. Let the consumer know what’s going on and stop trying to fool us, Nintendo.