As we do every year, last year we released a road map of what we were going to work on. The idea behind our road map is to let you know what you can expect, and it gives us a framework for what we should be working on.
2019 was a big period of growth for us as 15 new stores became part of the Manage Comics family, and our customer count ballooned to nearly 5,000! We’ve added a few stores who have seen major transitions in 2019. Our store partners have asked us for changes, and we responded.
Rather than doggedly sticking to our Road Map, we talked to store owners and found a number of improvements that would help their day-to-day business, so we implemented fixes and changes to make things better.
What we did from the road map:
Variant Cover Management
We made huge changes to Special Orders in 2019 to make sure that people could order Variant Covers. Additionally, we improved the Notes feature so that people can leave specific notes about what they want to order. Detective Comics #1000 led to a ton of changes getting implemented for the way that we handle the variant cover issue, and we refined that even more when Wonder Woman #750 was announced, which led to even more changes.
At this point we have figured out how to allow special orders for variant covers, and how to integrate those into not only pulls, but also Initial Orders.
This was a huge win for us.
Other things we built in 2019
We made some big fixes to pulls, added a local pickup option, the ability to delete an item on an invoice, and an easy way to create a new customer without an email address. Our biggest feature upgrade in March 2019 was a new global feature slide addition. Every store now gets my custom built monthly slide update on their store, and I manage previous slide updates so store sites look great.
In June we added a new printable “All Titles” page (available in the bottom footer of every page of a Manage Comics page. This page lets you have an easy place to point your customers to when they’re searching for something specific, if they just want to browse everything, or if they need a printable copy of the overall list. We also updated Special Orders by making it easier for customers to search for anything out of any current Diamond Catalogue.
We made a few changes to the way pull lists can be sorted – adding first names and some more sorting abilities. We added Diamond Codes to special orders, and for our colour blind friends, we added a +/- to the additions and substractions.
In July we addressed concerns from some customers that their sites weren’t fully mobile responsive. We made some big changes to the way customer facing pages act, and really improved layouts for mobile users.
We changed the pulls process in September to become a 3-stage-process, incorporating special orders and pre-selecting items that should have shipped that week. This further simplifies special orders, and makes them even more accurate.
In recent months Marvel has restarted titles while their old titles are still on shelves. This meant that you could have situations like Star Wars where a brand new series was being solicited while issues from the old series were still being delivered. We improved our product listings so that we could add new series codes to titles starting on a specific date. This simplifies collecting for customers since they don’t have to find the new titles.
We also added special orders to our initial order updates, and began sending out our custom made monthly emails automatically for stores.
Our Code Elves really cleaned up our backlog in December, delivering Shipping Dates on the customer-view of TPB’s and GN’s. We also changed the pulled emails so that they would only go out on Wednesdays, which has meant fewer frustrated customers arriving on Tuesdays when they can’t pick up their new comics.
What was on the road map that we didn’t get to:
Uploading FOC’s turned out to be much more complicated than we originally anticipated, and we ended up doing tons of updates to Initial Orders in the meantime. This has put us in a good spot, and we expect to have FOC updates done very early in the new year.
Point of Sale became a much larger job. I’ve got a setup here that replicates a cash register setup, and I’ve done a ton of experiments, but Square might not be the easiest system to get this done with. We’ve had some good conversations with Square, and we’re hoping that they will make a few changes that will make this even easier.
We may roll out POS integration as a multi-step process, with step 1 just being the ability to import your inventory into Square easily.
Built-In Contact Us pages
This one is relatively trivial, and just didn’t make it to the top of our backlog in 2019. I think it will hit there soon.
Again, this one didn’t hit the top of the backlog, but we’ll revisit this again in 2020. The idea is that Manage Comics will let you automatically set up discount tiers for your customers, and notify them when they move from one tier to another (up or down).
Full Variant Cover Management
This one is a doozy. I’ve got ideas and layouts for how we can do this for some titles, but we need to work with Diamond to get them to do some work on the variant titles so that we can get consistent data for variants that are limited by ordering #’s. Once we figure that out, we could build some very cool tools that would help stores understand where they are on thresholds.