Dispatch from Comic-Con: Lessons of the Dealers’ Room

Your AVPS correspondents get around, and this week, we’re at Comic-Con, that mega mecca for all things pop culture, which eventually unfurl on screens and pages of every stripe, but are launched here, in previews and panels. And a walk around the dealers’ room provides a good archaeology in the strata of on-the-spot processing, like the kind currently offered by AVPS.

Once upon a time, dealers’ rooms at conventions would only accept cash, maybe checks (if you had the right kind of face!), and the more advanced vendors — especially the book, comic and memorabilia stores who’d be taking out stock and setting up kiosks in the field — would actually swipe cards on carbon slips (giving the customer some time until the charges were actually levied, since the slips had to be phoned in later, or toted up when the convention was over).

Now, of course, the convention center at San Diego is rife with wiring and wi-fi, and depending on how merchants are willing to scale up, in terms of the access they pay for, the remote swiping is as instantaneous as any brick-and-mortar store. Especially if you’re buying something at the Dark Horse, Marvel, DC, Sideshow Collectible, or myriad other top-tier booths.

Smaller vendors, those along the sides of the convention hall selling their own collectibles, games, t-shirts, etc.,  will sometimes pay for phone access, but more and more, will use “swiping” apparatus attached to their existing smartphones or tablets.

You also see this along the rows of Artists’ Alley, where pairs or trios of artists will split the costs of tables, selling you samples of their work– either their own creations, or your customized version of the superhero of your choice — directly.  And here you might find a check/cash only situation, though now the ubiquity of remote processing puts these one-woman/one-man enterprises on equal footing with the Dark Horses and Marvels.

None of this is a surprise to our astute readers. but the phenomenon of Comic Con, taking over more and more of San Diego each year, shows how important it is to consider ways to meet your customers — whatever your business is — where they actually gather.

And where they gather is increasingly informed by their own mobility. Their expectation is that whatever gets them to gather with like-minded souls — whether it’s a glimpse at footage from the new “Hobbit” movie, finding out what the cutting edge is in waterproofing in this year’s outdoor equipment, or the versatility of self-adhesive papers in scrapbooking — the vendors catering to those interests will be as up-to-date, as nimble, as they are.

Hobbits drinking in a tavern needed coins to pay the tab; your customers will be waving plastic, or virtual wallets on their phones, in your direction.  And like the Rangers of Middle Earth, or the crew of the ship Firefly, it’s best to be prepared.

AVP Solutions can help you. After all, you have a year to get ready now for next Comic Con.

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