Some retailers may get little, if any, product
As we predicted, those that were not wise enough to put in a pre-order for Kinect might be scrambling to find one on launch day, as some retailers that we have spoken with are telling us that availability will be very tight.
Apparently, the retailers that are going to be most affected are those non-big box retailers who are not direct through Microsoft and have to go though main line distribution to get their product. As one retailer told us, “Our distributor told us Friday that despite the fact that we have over 30 units on order, our sales rep at the distributor will only be getting nine (9) Kinect units to divvy up among his entire region of stores that he services, which is said to total more than 200 stores.” This retailer went on to say, “I will be lucky to get one unit on launch day and it would appear and I have more pre-orders than that.”
As for where all of the Kinect inventory is going, apparently big box retailers (as well as GameStop) are going to likely be the best bets to find a Kinect if you didn’t pre-order one for launch day. However, even GameStop might not be a sure thing, as one GameStop manager told us that they stopped taking pre-orders some time ago, and they are still not really sure if they are going to have much inventory over the confirmed pre-orders that they already have. “I expect demand for Kinect to now be tighter than we might have expected, and it does look like demand for the unit is increasing the closer we get to launch and the deeper we get into the holiday season.”
While no one seems to be using the word “shortage” yet, it does seem that at least retail store managers do expect that availability will be tight. One independent game store retail manager told us, “We will have Kinect units at some point on launch day and we have backup plans in place to make sure that we have inventory on the shelves to offer our customers. I have seen this before and we are not taking any chances, as we don’t want to disappoint our loyal Xbox 360 customers who want Kinect.”
Only Microsoft knows exactly what the inventory situation is, but launch day could prove an interesting one for this device that has received so much mixed coverage since its official launch announcement. Could Kinect be this year’s impossible to get for the video game industry?