*All figures and percentages provided here are indicative and subject to change
Since the launch of the Kurono Anniversary Green ‘Mori’, we have taken a serious look at our systems and worked in-depth with our payments partner and platform provider to find solutions to the issues faced by our customers at the point of purchase. We have learned a great deal about what happened previously, and what we can or cannot do.
High Frequency Transactions
Even though we are a small outfit, the ecommerce system that we are using is the same platform as that used by that of larger companies. Our system can cater for high frequency transactions of up to 10,000 transactions per minute. The issue we all face - irregardless of the platform we use - is that if too many rush to purchase at the same time, the speed of which inventory will be sold out will be very rapid. Our system is the same system that Sony Corporation used in the Playstation 5 pre-order period recently (and to a lesser extent Microsoft’s Xbox X in some markets). Exactly the same issues that were faced in Mori transactions were faced by them, leaving many unhappy customers.
Different Banks Have Different Transaction Speeds; Some Rules
We use one of the biggest modern payment systems in the world today - the same system that powers Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Uber. With their help, we have learnt interesting characteristics of our own transactions. The speed of credit card transactions - or rather how an amount is authorized to be captured - vastly differs from bank to bank, and from country to country. As a rule of thumb - markets that have a lot more liberal and developed payment systems tend to have faster transactions. But even within developed countries like the US, the variance between different banks are quite large. A customer’s credit rating, and how close he is to maxing out his card also plays a part. Anecdotally, the card system that seems to have the most number of issues is American Express, in the US.
Here are a few basic rules on how transactions are approved on our site.
- Customers can only checkout if they have a valid registered account
- Your First and Last name is required
- Your phone number is required
- Credit card 3D secure authentication is required
- The system will decline a non-valid credit card CVV
Checkout Hold Clarification
Checkout hold is only done after all the credit card, customer and delivery information is entered fully, and the customer clicks on the pay button. The checkout hold system then reserves the stock from inventory and holds it, until the customer’s bank approves the transaction. If the transaction is not approved, the inventory is released back to the pool. This system ensures the integrity of payment processing vs inventory availability. What it does not do is hold the item while waiting for the customer to fill in his information.
The issue we face is the sheer volume of customers trying to purchase a limited number of items. Even if the platform provider were to hold inventory for a few minutes while waiting for customers to fill in their information, that still locks out a lot of other customers who are attempting to purchase. It then becomes a question of who gets to ‘reserve’ an item first - the first who clicks on the ‘Buy Now’ button, or the first who completes the transaction.
To mitigate the time taken filling out customer and delivery information, most modern browsers have auto-fill features for both desktop and mobile. We will highly recommend that you switch this feature on during the checkout process.
Gross Mismatch in Secondary Kurono Valuations, New Penalties
The Kurono team constantly tracks what is happening on the secondary and grey markets, and we do not like what we see. Kurono currently sells in some markets for 5x MSRP, and stabilizes at 3x MSRP in most markets. Even our accessories (boxes) are trading at 2x MSRP. We find this very unhealthy. Standard economics dictate matching supply and demand curves to reach price equilibrium but that would mean far higher prices which we will simply not do. Neither can we simply just increase launch numbers due to our limitations, which is now exacerbated by COVID disruptions. Kurono at inception was designed to deliver the exceptional at affordable prices. We will not raise prices because of a few errant traders.
Effective immediately, any identified or suspected trader will be barred from purchasing any Kurono. We know that there are a few outliers that still try to beat the system by registering alternative names and addresses. We will track and cancel such transactions even after the launch date. Such cancellations will then be subject to a restocking fee of 12.5% of the watch’s MSRP to cater to card transaction and platform costs. The extra will be donated to our selected children’s charity of the season.
The restocking penalty will be on top of all existing measure we have taken to limit the number of errant grey trading in Kurono.
Eliminating Unfair Advantages
We previously allowed for accelerated checkouts such as Apple Pay and Google Pay to allow customers to complete their purchase transactions faster and easier. But what we’ve found is that accelerated checkouts are limited to customers living in countries with more developed financial systems, and thus gave them an unfair advantage when it came to speed of transactions. Because of this, we will no longer offer accelerated checkouts, and revert back to the primary Visa/Mastercard/Amex transactions route.
TRIALING A NEW WAY OF ALLOCATING WATCHES
(*All figures and percentages shown above are indicative and subject to changes on a per-launch basis)
At Kurono, we are focused on showing our customers the best possible hospitality and experience that we can provide. We are limited by how much we can spend on our ecommerce systems especially with regards to high frequency transactions, and we have to work within the confines and limitations of our platform providers. But what we can do is to innovate by way of the processes going into each buy.
As such, we are happy to introduce a new tiered system of allocations - aimed at rewarding those that continue to celebrate and support us, and for our existing customers of which none of this would have been possible without them.
Starting with the upcoming launch of a very special limited run, we will be introducing 3 allocation tiers. One for those that have contributed to our growth in a big way; one for existing customers; and one for the public.
This is by no means a perfect system that will make everyone happy. It also adds complexity to both the buying process, and most definitely our backend administration of things. But it is our hope that it shows that we are constantly thinking about how we can make things a little more equitable and pleasant to everyone, and especially so for the collector community.
Kurono Contributor (#kuronocontributor)
A Kurono Contributor is an existing Kurono watch owner that has made a significant contribution to the growth and promotion of the Kurono collector community. These are the collectors that have taken much time, effort, and pain to shoot amazing pictures or videos of their watch or wristshots, and have actively promoted the watch either through their social channels or mass media. To us, it doesn’t really matter if they have hundreds of thousands of followers or a few hundred. Or if they use expensive camera setups or their iPhone. They are consistently the ones from whom one can really feel the love and excitement they have for their Kuronos - sharing experiences, telling stories, helping new collectors along the way, and more. And every season, a new batch of Contributors will be identified and added to the fold.
- We are allocating 6-10% of each launch’s available quantities to be reserved for Kurono Contributors. The actual allocation percentage will be announced at each launch.
- You must be an existing direct Kurono watch owner.
- Eligible Contributors will differ from batch to batch at the discretion of Kurono.
- The first batch of eligible Contributors are those that have participated in the Celebrating Collectors 2020 photobook.
- Should there be more Contributors than available watches, it would then go through a computerized ballot.
- Contributors that did not secure an allocation, can try again during the Public sales period.
- Any Contributor that secured an allocation will not be allowed to purchase during the Public sales period.
- Unallocated watches will be added to the Public pool.
- All allocated watches must be paid for in full upfront.
Kurono Collector (#kuronocollector)
Quite simply put, a Kurono Collector is one that already owns a Kurono watch, purchased from www.kuronotokyo.com.
There was a huge internal debate on whether we should include those that did not manage to buy our watches but secured Hiroshige accessories. But doing so would have introduced new issues that we may not have anticipated. Firstly, some might try to ‘game’ the system - by buying accessories just to improve their chances of scoring a watch. Secondly, it would increase the numbers in this tier so significantly that having this tier would no longer have made sense.
- We are allocating 18-22% of each launch’s available quantities to be reserved for Kurono Collectors. The actual allocation percentage will be announced at each launch.
- Only direct watch customers in our database will be added to this pool.
- Resale-market customers will not qualify. Identified traders and resellers will not qualify. Customers who have sold their watches within 6 months from their delivery date will not qualify.
- Should there be more Collectors than available watches, it would then go through a computerized ballot.
- Collectors that did not secure an allocation, can try again during the Public sales period.
- Any Collector that secured an allocation will not be allowed to purchase during the Public sales period.
- Unallocated watches will be added to the Public pool.
- All allocated watches must be paid for in full upfront.
The public sales phase will revert back to our standard ‘first-past-the-post’ system. At least two-thirds of each launch will be reserved for the public. Please note that cart reservations are only enacted during the credit card processing process, and not during filling up customer information.
- We are allocating at least 70% of each launch’s available quantities to be reserved for public sales.
- Unallocated watches from the Contributors and Collectors phases will be added to the Public pool.
- Transactions will be ‘first-past-the-post’. No ballots will be conducted.
- Identified traders and resellers will be barred from purchases. All existing purchase rules apply.
- The standard practice of pre-order deposits, followed by balance payments prior to fulfillment shall apply.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: Will the tiered allocation system apply to all product launches?
A: Not necessarily so. This tiered allocation system will mostly apply to limited launches, and especially those that we think are so significant that demand will be a significantly more than normal. That being said, this tiered allocation system is new and it will be refined over time.
Q: How will allocations for Contributors and Collectors occur?
A: Eligible Contributors and Collectors will be automatically collated from our database. You will be sent a link to an Expression of Interest online form via your email address registered in our system. If you intend to purchase, please fill in the form and submit your interest. Should you be successful in your ballot, a fulfillment invoice will be sent to you. You will be given a couple of days to fulfill your allocation, after which unpaid fulfillment invoices will be cancelled and the inventory re-allocated to the Public pool.
Q: What does a significant contribution to the Kurono collector community entail? What do I have to do to qualify for the Kurono Contributors tier?
A: Kurono Contributors are consistently the ones from whom one can really feel the love and excitement they have for their Kuronos - sharing pictures, experiences, telling stories, helping new collectors along the way, and more. While this is not an exact science, it is already easy to identify the collectors who have actively been sharing, posting, and discussing about Kurono - whether on social media, forums, or other media channels. There is really nothing you have to do - Kurono constantly monitors all relevant media channels, and we will at our discretion select Contributors.
Q: I am in the Celebrating Collectors 2020 Photobook, will I forever remain in this tier or how long will I remain in this tier for?
A: Participation in the 2020 Photobook is the logical way to kickstart our new allocation process. Remaining in the tier is not indefinite, and really depends on how active you are as a Contributor.
Q: I am a contributor of the Celebrating Collectors 2020 Photobook, but I do not own a Kurono watch, do I still qualify for the Contributors tier?
A: No you will not qualify. Contributors must first and foremost, be Kurono owners. That being said, the system of recognizing Contributors will continue to be refined and we will try to find opportunities for non-owners who have contributed in a very big way.
Q: If I am in the Contributors tier and own 2 or more Kurono watches, will I be given more ballots?
A: No you will not. Each Contributor regardless of the number of watches he owns, will be given one ballot.
Q: I am in the Contributors/Collectors tier, but I was unable to secure a watch in my respective tier, what do I do?
A: You will have another opportunity in the public phase.
Q: Can I still try to get a watch in the Public tier if I have already secured one in the Contributors/Collectors tier?
A: No you cannot. You will automatically be disqualified from the Public tier.
Q: I resold my Kurono way before 6 months ago, am I still eligible for the Kurono Collectors tier?
A: Yes you will. The 6 months bar is to discourage trading in Kurono watches. This 6 month bar is from the date of delivery of your Kurono, not the date of pre-order.
Q: Am I considered a collector if I don’t own a Kurono watch, but own a Kurono accessory (i.e: Hiroshige Strap/Tamenuri Box)?
A: A Collector, at the moment, must be a Kurono watch owner.
Q: Am I considered a collector if a Kurono watch was not bought by me but given to me as a gift/bought by me but given away as a gift?
A: At the moment, only the direct buyers of Kurono watches will be recognized as Collectors.