Who feels like being bored for a few minutes? Great, please proceed with reading this post.
Has anyone noticed the size of blaster boxes has shrunk considerably? I noticed this with Bowman Chrome earlier this month, and again with Topps Update. At first I thought it was a new pack size choice aside from standard blasters, hangers, packs and rack packs. But it was a shrunk down blaster, about 25% smaller than the blasters we are accustomed to. Here is a side by side of a blaster and card for comparison:
Having a side by side of the old and new blasters would have been so much more impactful....
And my point is…..?
Not really much of anything, except I thought it was interesting. I actually don’t know why Topps didn’t do this earlier. With the old blasters, there was a lot of wasted space. They were shipping a lot of air and can now fit more cases per truck. And with this reduction in packaging materials, they have to be realizing some savings in that aspect to.
Don’t be surprised if this is also a result of Wal-Mart’s pressures on suppliers for improvements in sustainability. As a supplier to Wal-mart, I know firsthand packaging reduction has been a big initiative of theirs for several years now.
(Side note: I’m just stating facts right now, not cheer leading for Wal-mart. Please let’s not get into a debate on the evils or merits of Wal-mart.)
So…. Does this sort of change have an impact? Let’s make some estimates and see.
First, we determine how much space a case of blasters takes:
|Old Blaster||New Blaster|
|Blaster Cub Ft.||0.04||0.03|
|Case Cub Ft.||0.58||0.45|
The new blasters are about 23% smaller than the old. The old and new sizes are both packaged 16 units per case as far as I can tell. There is likely a 3-5% addition in cube size once the outer carton is factored in, but for our purposes that's irrelevant.
Next, we have to make some assumptions on how many blasters Wal-mart sells. Wal-mart has over 3,700 stores (not including Neighborhood Markets and other small formats), and I’m going to guess baseball cards are sold in around 3,400 of them. It may be closer to 3,000 stores, but I’ve yet to see a Walmart that doesn’t carry cards, so let's stick with 3,400. I’m going to pull another guess out of thin air and say the average store sells 6 blasters a week (of a specific series, not all blasters) over a 16 week period. Sound reasonable?
|Avg Per Store||96|
If that is correct, Topps probably sells about 325,000 blasters of each series to Walmart, or 20,000 cases. Anyone think otherwise? It feels like a good number to me, but I may be wayyyyyy off track.
So, how many trucks does Topps use to ship to Walmart’s distribution centers? Let's assume Topps ships from one ship point, which may not be true, but it keeps things simple for this exercise. I’m also going to assume that Topps does not use the large trucks you typically think of for these shipments since I doubt they can fill large trucks to each of Walmart’s 40+ distribution centers. (Actually they probably can when you include other Topps products, but again, we'll ignore that for this example.) Let's say they use what we call LTL (less than truckload) size carriers. I think the cube capacity on these is typically around 2,000 cubic feet. Again, I may be wrong, but for comparison’s sake, it's good enough.
Let me know if you have some better assumptions. This is pretty simplistic approach because I have no idea of what the replenishment strategies are over the course of the season. Also, fair warning: you will all be quizzed on this in the final exam, so be sure to hang on to your notes.