Yup I am going to do it, even though I keep telling myself no I should not, but the greater good, hopefully outweighs the need to not air my dirty laundry. Those of you who know me know that never stopped me before, but this time it feels different? It is because this is a relatively new revenue stream for GDW Inc? I feel like it is a new baby and I need to protect it, but at the same time I want to let the people who trust me know I have no fear of telling the truth.
So her goes…
I am going to relive the horror story that is just clearing up for a customer who had drop shipped a bunch of Gerneral Arbitrage goods into our warehouse for FBA prep, packaging, and shipping.
It is a lesson learned and good information to help everyone doing this type of business model.
Here is how I see it from my side. As always there are more than one side of the story!
We started receiving goods for a customer last week. It just started arriving from local suppliers of big named products. It did have the customers name CO/GDW Inc. so it was very easy to tell it was this customers goods.
I contacted this customer to let them know the product were inbound and we received a spread sheet from the customer with cut and pasted information from the suppliers with tracking information, amounts purchased, and what services we were supposed to do for the customer. All good I am excited as this is our first customer of this type for FBA.
Up to this point we have mostly done case packed goods, repacking, bagging, labeling, boxing, all the same good. 100’s or even 1000’s at a time. It is a simple process but labor intensive.
This shipment is different, it is multiple cases of single items, 4, 5, 6, I think the most of any one item was 12. So I get a new guy who has had some snap and done good work in the shipping for GadgetDealz and show him the spread sheet, I give him the Amazon Packing guidelines and expand the spread sheet to show our services per item.
I ask him to get this shipment moving as we want to get it shipped the next day. This was Wed. we start “receiving the goods” which is where we check the goods against the packing slip, and against the shipments. We realize all the goods are not there. The customer is telling me how important getting the goods into FBA is as she is OOS (out of stock) and needs to get it into FBA before she leaves for a while?? O.K. not really an issue but we made a critical mistake at this point. We let the customer dictate the project.
So Thursday more goods arrive and it looks like we have everything. So this will be great…then more good arrive again for the same customer??? What is this for? It is not on the spread sheet. People get confused at this point and so I email the customer. Yup the customer loves us and has sent more products in unannounced. We get another spread sheet in yet a different format so I am trying to make it look like the other one so my new guys do not have to figure it out. We should be able to deal with that right? Wrong.
So now we have received 2 shipments and I tell my guys to work on getting the first one out so we can close that out as the customer is in a hurry…..darn I am letting the customer dictate the process and the speed….what am I doing. Opps kids B-Day in Austin. I leave thinking my guys pack and ship all the time we have great processes for what we do. We seriously ship 1000’s of units a day.
I get an email with the measurements and weight of 2 boxes ready to go to FBA for the customer. I send it to the customer and the customer sends me 3 shipping labels as we still have some product to go?? She guesses at the weight as well? I send it to my guys and tell them to get it ready to go out FT Monday.
The weekend goes by.
Monday I drive in from Austin 3 hours to Houston in traffic Monday AM yeah I am in a good mood. I get in and look at our prep area and there is still product there? I ask my guys and find out that it is part of shipment 1 and also part of shipment 2 and so the three boxes we had labels for was not the complete shipment and we were in for issues and better yet they just dropped off the three boxes at the UPS facility. Time to get on the phone!!! Luckily I was able to intercept the goods and pick up the boxes before being shipped out.
I email the customer and explain that the sizes and weights for the three boxes were not for the whole shipment, my guys got ahead of themselves and I needed to make sure everything was received and everything was correct and signed off before we shipped. No word back from the customer.
We now need to completely receive all goods for both projects and insure everything has been received.
And what do you know it had not, there were items missing, there were items not even on the list, and not only that we had not received every box yet. WTF my guys did not check the shipments again the list, they only checked the manifest against the contents. I am getting a migraine now.
And I in my great wisdom decide that I am going to keep the customer up to speed and tell them too much to be honest. I am eating crow because I allowed the process to deviate help a customer who was in a hurry, and also my need to get home for my kids B-Day.
Fast forward….I make my guys unpack everything, an we go item by item, I make sure it is labeled, I make sure the choking hazards are in place on bags that did not already have it printed, I make sure the do not separate labels are where they need to be. I get my office manager to double check me to make sure and he and I fix every potential issue. But business calls and I have to leave. SO I tell my guys to box this stuff and try to get it into as few boxes as possible to see if we could salvage the labels the customer already printed, BC I know how much of a pain it is to delete and recreate the shipping plan. Also there is a lot of worry as Amazon is trying to stop people from creating BS shipments to get around shipping products to different facilities.
I let the customer know what happened I eat crow, it is my fault, I accept the fact I will not bill the customer for this service and chalk it up to training and learning new processes for new employees.
Then the customer calls and we have the discussion. I tell them I understand their concern, how much I appreciate the customers patience and that although we wanted to help get the goods out fast, the way the goods came in would have not made that an easy task. I take ownership that we made the mistake of giving them box sizes and weights when the project was incomplete and that caused some grief. I give the customer the new box sizes and weights that were on the edge of Amazons limits to try to save them some money and they do not like that as it may hurt the drivers back?? They want them smaller?? We hang up and I go back to my guys and we repackage everything….I get to talk to the customer again in a couple of hours, everything is ready to go….hopefully we can get this out and finished.
Boy I really like imported products right now. 1000 units of the same goods. Even if we need to bag them, add hangar tags, insert silica, and label the process is easier, and we do it when everything arrives not in a hurry to get product up for the customer BC the customer failed to plan in advance and we are now supposed to save them from a lack of planning. Also if your looking to be a customer and after reading this you may not I know I may be shooting myself in the foot, but let me know in advance what you have coming in, and what you would like to get done. So we can be prepared in advance and not scrambling to accommodate your needs without proper preparation. It is a recipe for disaster and well I have had enough this week.
Here are the takeaways
lesson 1.) Do not let the customer dictate the process.
lesson 2.) Do not let the new guys go to the next step without sign off by one of the mangers. Especially on new processes.
lesson 3.) Do not give every detail of everything to every customer along the way. Sometimes too much information creates worry.
lesson 4.) Proper planning prevents piss poor performance. I allowed us to get in a hurry on a new process without the normal planning it would take to accomplish this satisfactorily. In the end it took the same amount of time it would have with planning, but without the drama and probably loss of some new customers….not a great way to start a revenue stream, but like a mentor of mine Will says. You have to get moving, make mistakes, learn, and get better as you go. I lived by that motto with every company I ever started and no matter how much you plan you just need to do it to learn and make progress.
I love the no named customer in this story, great people, honestly I do. I hope that we can still be friends and I know I have a lot to offer them as they are in the same space I am in online in the GA side of my business. But rocky starts either make long term partnerships or short term friendships. We will see later today what happens.
Thanks for listening and for allowing us to serve you.