I have an almost-complete post about some of the cool programming stuff I’ve been working on, however for the past week or so I’ve been unable to wrap it up…or get to much of the programming itself because of how busy we’ve been!
In my Black Friday / Cyber Monday post I mentioned that I was surprised a bit by how well everything came together for the start of the holiday shopping season. A successful SEMA show led right into early Black Friday promos, which led right into the real thing. Since then the orders haven’t really slowed. This last quarter of 2012 has been our best Q4 ever, by far.
In that post I also said that “for the first time we were able to synchronize our paid marketing efforts on car forums, Twitter, Facebook, AdWords, and Bing Ads with these sales.” That’s been a big part of it. Another big part of it has been that our employees are trained so they’re doing productive work (and we’re not spending time training). We’ve also been able to run more timely sales that – I think – match what customers are looking for at that specific time.
For instance, right now we’re guaranteeing that any order placed by 2 PM Thursday will be delivered by Christmas Eve. Most companies set Monday as their cutoff because that’s the last day a Ground shipment can reach the furthest parts of the domestic US (5 business days). Companies with multiple distribution hubs like Best Buy had the cutoff earlier today (Wednesday), presumably because they can reach any part of the US by Ground in 3 business days. What we decided to do was to upgrade anyone who was outside of our Ground radius to Express shipping at no additional charge to guarantee the delivery. Each day that radius shrinks, meaning we’ll upgrade more and more customers. Yea, it’s a little time consuming, and it will cost us some money. Seemingly it’s worked though because people are still buying later into the holiday shopping season than they have in previous years.
Speaking of previous years: we’ve always been super busy from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Where this year was different was that we were busy for ALL of the holiday shopping season, starting in early November and lasting through December. This was a goal of ours, so it wasn’t exactly accidental, but I’m not sure any of us thought we’d get there this year.
Of course, this means we’ve been busier in the warehouse than normal. There are a lot of incoming shipments to get up on the shelves, and a lot of backorders to ship out as soon as the products arrive. Our year-end inventory was a lot easier to complete when we had less inventory and slower sales! The past few days have been two of the craziest warehouse days I’ve ever had. There’s that little part of me that’s frustrated because I do want to be home programming. Quickly though I shut that thought up because I don’t want to be thinking of an unexpected boost in sales as a problem.
If anything, we might be looking at hiring some additional part-time warehouse help after the winter. If you would have told me that in September or October I would have laughed. It can be hard to appreciate the growth because it creates new unexpected problems to solve, but I’m doing my damnedest to allow myself to enjoy it.