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Pet peeves with Airsoft retailers: Our perspective

In this blog post I'm going to be discussing a post which was recently made on the UK Airsoft Community group page. There's been a few threads going around like 'What is the thing you hate most about Airsoft', and 'What do you hate most about Airsoft Players', and other meme worthy threads, but one which caught my attention was the post about people's biggest pet peeves with Airsoft retailers. What's quite interesting is that quite a few people had the same gripes, but what I found most interesting is that the thing that people hate the most is not even something retailers can really control. Hopefully this will be interesting to some, and go towards explaining exactly what causes the problems we have.


Pricing, and expensive products


Quite an interesting one, and there can be a couple of explanations for this. The most standard explanation is retailer economics: what sells for one company may not sell for another, leading to reduced costs on certain lines in an attempt to sell them. Below are a few lesser known reasons which can also factor into the equation.

Vs other UK Company

Nowadays there's a hell of a lot of Airsoft sellers online now so it's hard to keep track of every single product across every single website. We try to do our best to keep an eye on our best selling products and ranges, but sometimes less popular products slip through the net.

Non EU Pricing

Another reason can be people comparing prices to shops from outside the EU, such as from America. Sure, the prices look cheaper at face value, but once you've paid import duty, the postage services handling charges (literally the worst thing known to man), and postage then the item will usually be the same price, or in most cases much more expensive. If you're buying a product from a UK company the chances are they've gone through the hassle of importing it, paid the import duty, and then have to pay tax on the sale itself again. Prices in the UK can look higher, but that's because the cost of the product is drastically higher due to import costs.

EU Pricing

Sometimes pricing can vary a lot between UK shops and shops within the EU. This is typically down to costs over getting it across here, and the exchange rate at which the products were purchased. Sometimes the price of currency can fluctuate wildly (Especially with politics the way it is at the moment), so some things can become cheaper or more expensive overnight. We attempt to keep our prices as reasonable as possible, but sometimes we can get stung by the exchange rate.

Vs non-VAT registered business

This isn't as much as of a big thing as it was a few years ago, or something which is exclusive to Airsoft, but be careful when you're buying online. There are a lot of easy one push button retail website packages available now, so people can start up a business and advertise all the stock they want with little or no cost and simply drop ship it from a distributor. When selling as a non-vat registered company you pay the VAT up front, and any money after that is profit, when selling as a VAT registered company you pay on the total cost of the sale instead, meaning you save about 8-10% as  non-vat company, allowing you to reduce your prices whilst still earning the same money.

Of course, the offshoot of that is you might not get that extra quality of service. Sure you can save yourself a bit of cash, but will you really get the service, aftermarket support and warranty you would with a larger retailer? Possibly not, worst case they're drop-shipping from their house and won't accept returns, or at absolute worse just run off with your money.

Don't get me wrong, some of the upcoming business offer good service, but for an extra £5-£10 is it worth the risk? Always try find out if a company has a physical location before buying or a number you can call, and look at how good their descriptions are, it's usually a good sign they're more legitimate.


FPS ratings variations

This can be a bit of a tough one, but this usually crops up with AEG and Gas replicas.

Gas Replicas

An FPS variance issue is quite a complicated issue when it comes to gas guns. There's a huge array of things which can affect the power of a replica, from gas type, to gas temperature and how well lubricated the pistol itself is.

Gas temperature is the main problem, a pistol which fires at 340 fps at 12°c may drop off a cliff when it comes to lower temperatures in the colder months of the year. Most Airsoft replicas are designed in Taiwan and other warmer country and fire a lot more consistent in warmer temperature, when they get over here to the sunny UK they can't quite handle the lower temperatures. You'll usually find temperature is a huge problem with the heavier slided pistols.

AEG Replica

Some retailers can have a huge problem with this due to FPS being wildly variant between batches of weapons, this is typically due to where the replicas were bought as some country have lower and higher fps limits than us. We try to update all our descriptions as soon as an FPS change is brought up during weapons testing which is how we're able to avoid this problem quite well, but other shops may not have the ability to test every single weapon before it leave the door.

We had it where one batch of guns came in originally at 340fps, then the next batch came in at around 270fps and we had to upgrade all the springs. Luckily we're big enough to handle this, but some smaller shops, or shops who drop ship might not spot this.


Couriers

Couriers are an issue when it comes to Airsoft, if you've ever tried to return or post any 2nd hand Airsoft sales you'll know how little companies will ship replicas. When it comes to commercially delivering Airsoft products retailers options are very limited, only certain courier services will accept parcels which contain RIF. Courier services know that we're limited in our options, and they certainly know how to charge.


Stock Levels

We see this a lot, and I mean a lot, you have to remember that Airsoft kit isn't like other consumables. Unfortunately Airsoft kit isn't produced in volumes like super markets.

There's only a certain amount of distributors for products who bring stuff in, and again, there's only a certain amount of stuff produced because there's only a small amount of factory to produce the stuff.

In Airsoft, demand is way higher than the supply.

If something is out of stock, it's probably because we can't get it back in even if we wanted because there isn't a big enough supply. And on the flip-side, if we do get an extremely popular Airsoft product back in then it usually sells out very quick.

There's a few problems to deal with:

  • Lack of production
    There's the winchester lever action rifles that are only produced 1-2 months out of the year in small quantities, they sell out so fast. Similarly its the same with KRYTAC, there's not enough available coming into the UK, we order as many as we can, then they sell out fast.
  • Time for delivery
    Some products, like TM products, sell out faster than we can get them in. It might take months to ship, depending on what happens in transit, and then they sell out way before this.
  • Suppliers
    Once the suppliers run out of stock, that's kinda it until they get their next delivery (see time for delivery, they're in the same boat).
  • Exchange rates
    No one wants to pay double what they could have paid a month ago. This is a huge problem for Airsoft at the moment, as kit could soon be coming in much more expensive than it is today. As an example, we looked into getting more TM MK23 in, with the current exchange rates and after import taxes the cost of the replica would be £40 more, with no more profit in it. Is it worth the risk to buy the volume we would need to satisfy the order, and not have them sell due to the increased pricing?

Hopefully this has answered some of the main questions you have when it comes to Airsoft. These problems aren't just universal to any one Airsoft retailer, they're the same across the board. We're all trying our best to make the experience as seamless as possible, so we only ask that you understand why things the way they are, and we're not just trying to mug you off 🙂

Do you have any more pet peeves? Let us know in the comments below and we can have a look into it for you!


Written by PatrolBase Jonny, who has written a total of 67 posts.

Jonny has worked for Patrol Base for 5+ years, working in the media department and on the main website. Responsible for managing the software which runs the website, bringing new features wherever possible. You can get in contact via Facebook and Instagram.


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