Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Skinny On Ordering (aka Ordering Woes)

I am often asked why an item may take a while to be ordered and mailed.

In our industry, more than 99% of the vendors we deal with are small companies. While we purchase Zweigart fabric and DMC and other threads, we don't deal directly with them, but purchase through distributors here in the US. To put it into context, my local bakery (Crust here in Fenton) has more employees than most of the companies we purchase directly from.

Most are 1-2 people companies with a handful (Wichelt, Kreinik, Week's Dye Works, Norden Crafts, Fleur de Paris) having maybe 6 to 10 employees. While many cross-stitch designers also sell through one of the distributors that's not true of most thread and fabric dyers. So when you place an order for say, fabric from 4 different companies, threads from 6 more, a mug, a frame or a couple of charts, chances are we have to order from 2-10 vendors.

Where orders with most vendors took 1-2 weeks, that has now changed to more like 2-4 weeks and that's from the time we place the order. Our industry still has not recovered to pre-2008 levels and that means all of us tightened our belts. We are not able to carry as much stock as we once did nor can our vendors or distributors. So a hand-dyer of threads or fibers might no longer keep a deep inventory in stock but have to dye as needed, which means it can take longer to get orders than it once did. Plus, they all have lives outside of our industry and jury duty, an illness, a family emergency or even an unexpected school holiday can throw a spanner in the works (designers do not have 'staff' to fill in for them as they work out of their homes).

Some vendors we may only order from a few times a year; with many others once or twice a month. And, the only distributors we order from "nearly" every week are Hoffman, Norden, Wichelt and Yarn Tree. But they frequently have to backorder items to us or tell us to reorder until their shipments are filled (they have minimum order requirements to meet too from the manufacturers) and arrive back in their warehouses.

Speaking of minimum ordering amounts ... some of our companies have set dollar minimums we have to meet. until we have enough orders to meet their minimums, we cannot place our orders. And, with the companies that do dying of fabric and threads, they have to have enough yardage orders to dye a certain color before they can make that dye bath up. When they do have that minimum requirement met, those dye orders are then placed in queue to be dyed behind their existing orders.

My hope in explaining this is that you'll have a better understanding of why your orders don't magically appear and why it may take longer than you think it should. If you have a deadline for a project, let us know when you place an order and we can tell you if we think we can meet it. If not, we'll see if we can help you find an alternate, or see if another shop might have what you need. We are small industry and you would be surprised how many times we all reach out to our fellow shop owners to find things we don't have in our stock!

7 comments:

LaNelle said...

Deb, thanks for great explanation I have shopped on line at your place of business many times always to have very helpful staff, keep up the great work! We all need to be as patient as when we are placing our stitches......

Jen FW said...

And sometimes designers disappear into the wilds of Alaska or overseas for a month or more at a time, and they simply aren't available to fill orders.

Or...wait...am I the only one?!

You're like a puppeteer working a dozen puppets at a time, and you do a great job!

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered why sometimes it takes so long for my orders to come from any given shop. Thank you for this great explanation. It will help me to be more patient. I have learned to say "Is it in stock? How soon can I get it?" And hopefully the shops are honest with me. Thank again for this great post!

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