It was tinkered and designed - now, on March 13th, a new online portal, Meeplebox.de, goes online with an ambitious idea: ringing in the future of game shopping. First of all, everything is as you know it. You rummage through the offers, filter here and there for board games of various genres, order - and at the end even pay with PayPal or Apple Pay. The actual innovation should lie elsewhere, in personal contact with players. Moment. Personal contact and online shop? Isn't that mutually exclusive? Something has to be different about Meeplebox somewhere.
Behind Meeplebox is the Spielkonzept4u team, which has been designing and running gaming events throughout the German-speaking world for ten years. The experience from “thousands of consultations to
Parlor games” are the inspiration for the makers of the shop, Franka Meusel and Willy Willner. You want to be close to the player and his questions. Newcomers in particular should benefit from this when it comes to starting a board game career.
Corona as a catalyst for online shopping
Opening an online shop of all things in Corona times is a hot topic: Stationary retailers are fighting for survival everywhere, fans warn that you should only shop in the local shops - and then a new internet shop comes along with the small-step opening wave hence. The development towards web shopping began long before Corona and would probably have continued even without a global virus pandemic, maybe more slowly, but noticeably. Stationary retailers have also recognized this and taken countermeasures: with "click and collect" offers, a comprehensive web shop or at least delivery services. A new online shop is therefore not a competitor that suddenly appears, but rather the consequence of a market development.
Nevertheless, the question arises as to whether bricks-and-mortar retail has long since had its day. Erik Wöller, responsible for social media and marketing at Meeplebox.de, has an answer: "I think the times for local trade without a community are getting harder and harder. However, there are great examples where retailers become the center of a player community simply because they offer competent advice on the games and at the same time bring people together with events. This concept definitely has a future.”
In other words: Anyone who does it properly as a brick-and-mortar retailer gets the chance to keep themselves for on-site customers despite the desire to shop online.
Direct contact with players should also be important for Meeplebox: "Our web shop arose from the fact that we wanted to offer people who we had brought modern games closer to events such as trade fairs, family days or company celebrations a contact point for their purchase wishes," says Erik Wöller on the idea behind the platform. We want to make it easier for newcomers to participate. "Online trading offers a lot of possibilities and also reaches potential players who don't have a sorted specialist dealer around the corner," says Wöller.
Corona acts like a catalyst for developments “that are already taking place,” says the marketing manager. He means the increasing willingness of customers to buy in online shops. "This may come as a surprise to those who spend a good part of their day digitally, but many people in Germany shopped online for the first time last year," says Wöller, summing up a perhaps surprising trend. "This development can no longer be reversed and will gain even more momentum in the coming years."
Nevertheless, as an online shop operator, you are aware of the many stationary retailers. You don't want to repress, you want to add: "However, I personally hope that many committed specialist dealers will survive the crisis, because even after Corona they will be the starting point for many people who are dealing with modern games for the first time," says social media -Man Erik Woller.
Curated selection of board and card games
Supplementing is also not possible without a concept and this is exactly where Meeplebox wants to score. What makes the new shop different from other existing portals? "It starts with the selection of the titles," says Wöller. “We go to great lengths to only select titles that we believe in ourselves. Either we've already played the games ourselves or we've heard or read a lot of good things about them." Everyone on the team can contribute their own taste and "with some titles you know that they are of high quality, even if they might not meet your own taste,” explains Wöller.
This curated selection sets Meeplebox apart from other web shops. "In addition, we attach great importance to being close to the player," says Wöller about a key idea. “Thanks to the countless games events we have held over the past few years, we know how important good advice is when choosing a game. The number of titles that appear every year alone is enormous.” Through targeted questions, the aim is to filter out the right game for the right occasion and to enable the (future) player to find the right game. "Since we will continue to be represented at events in the future, at least when they take place again, we can further sharpen our view here and adequately evaluate new products".
No interview without a trick question. So what would be game titles that should not be missing on any shelf? Erik Wöller recommends Dominion - naturally with reference to the always existing personal needs of every player - because it has simple rules, is versatile and thoroughly profound; Machi Koro as the perfect mix between tactics, luck and town planning as well as Chili Dice, a trick for advanced learners. According to Wöller recommendations, into the blue haze.
How to shop at Meeplebox as a total game ignoramus? "The easiest way is that you just give us a call and we'll talk about what you intend to do with the game," invites Erik Wöller to take the first step in getting in touch. Then come questions: is it for yourself or do you want to give it away? What experiences have you had with board games? Who do you actually want to play with? It makes a big difference whether you play with your teenage children, your friends in the flat share or your parents. Do you approach decisions strategically? Do you love the quick distraction for in between?
"Little by little, we're getting closer to finding the right game for you, until we can put together a small selection for you," says Wöller about the idea. And technology is also to be used: "We are currently already working on an automated system that will ask you exactly these questions in order to guide you." In the medium term, countless game consultations could be carried out at the same time. "For you it's just a few clicks," says the social media officer. “Of course you can also browse through the categories in our shop. We have taken great pains to classify all games in such a way that you can find exactly the right article after a short search."
The starting gun will be fired on March 13th at 15 p.m. on the Twitch channel from Meeplebox. In any case, it should become another point of contact in the long term. In addition to exciting guests, background information and competitions
the team also chats from the sewing box and presents its vision of Meeplebox on the opening day.
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