I don't know about you, but my post-patch sales are slowly starting to return to normal. Prices are still generally higher than they were before, but raw material prices are generally higher now also. I love addons and their ability to automate my buying and selling, but I also like having a more intimate knowledge of certain markets so I can watch for trends and plan farther ahead.
As I've been doing my daily gold-making routine, I got to thinking about the trends from past patches and what would happen in the near future with Patch 4.3. The more I think about it, the more I think this is completely different from any patch in the past, with the possible exception of Patch 3.3 and the introduction of the Dungeon Finder.
If you played pre-Dungeon Finder, you might remember the pain and suffering involved with forming a 5-man dungeon group. Spamming chat channels in the cities looking for a group, then traveling out to the dungeon, only to lose someone and have to go back for more people. It could take hours to find a group and complete a dungeon. Suddenly, you could queue for a dungeon and within a reasonable amount of time, be in the dungeon and completing it with relative speed.
Groups with an enchanter could disenchant gear easily, resulting in an abundant supply of raw materials. This drove raw prices down and set a lower average price for enchanting materials. While this phenomenon was largely contained in the enchanting profession, there were tendrils of influence that hit other professions as well.
Raid Finder and Transmogrification Change the Game
Fast forward to the present time and we're living post-4.3. The Raid Finder and Transmogrification have fundamentally changed the way people acquire gear and what they do with it. In the past, sharding gear was common. If it wasn't an upgrade, why keep it? Now, suddenly, gear is useful for appearance and not just stats thanks to transmogrification. I've been keeping more gear, especially on my leveling toons, on the off chance that I might need it someday for transmogging.
The Raid Finder introduced a new level of gear to the equation as well. Now, instead of running 5-mans over and over, people graduate to the Raid Finder to get better gear and earn some Valor Points as well. Because it's a 25-man group, it's rare to find gear that drops and no one needs. If not for a main spec, then for an off-spec.
Combine these two factors and you have far fewer enchanting materials entering the market, especially earlier in a patch's life cycle. This means prices will stay high longer than in previous patches, though they might still return to a more "normal" level. In the past, you could count on enchanting materials going down in price over time, but now they'll consistently grow higher on average over the course of an expansion.
Higher enchanting prices means more Jewelcrafters shuffling ore into jewelry for disenchanting. This means there are less uncommon (green-quality) gems available for transmuting into shadowspirit diamonds or rare (blue-quality) gems. Ore prices will rise as Jewelcrafters consume more ore in the shuffle. This, in turn, means higher gem prices for consumers as costs go up.
It will also become more important to find reliable suppliers at the lowest possible level of the production chain. Ore, Herbs and Leather farmers that regularly send you supplies will be invaluable in fighting rising prices. Just be prepared to up their pay over time or some other enterprising merchant might steal them away from you.
What long-range implications do you see now that we've had several weeks to adapt to 4.3? How has it already affected your business? Are you finding supply of raw materials to be a problem?