Keeping Things in Stock
by Jim Fazio, Co-owner, Woodland Catalog
There are few things as frustrating – especially at holiday time – as ordering something from a catalog and then finding it is not in stock.
At Woodland we pride ourselves on not letting that happen. Or, at least we try. We do our best to purchase in large enough quantities to have everything on hand and ready to ship the day it is ordered. The only exception is the big Fire Danger Sign that we have shipped directly from the factory. This is called ‘drop shipping’ and some companies do a lot of it. It cuts down on the expense of carrying inventory, but it also usually slows order fulfillment and quality control. So, if it is in our catalog, it is on our shelves – normally!
There are three stumbling blocks in guaranteeing this kind of good customer service. One is the frustrating challenge of knowing how much to keep on hand without having to mortgage the house! Dawn is pretty good at this, but the other challenges are more out of our control. One is beneficial, to us at least. That is when we get an unexpectedly large order that suddenly cleans out our supply. The strange part of this is that some items will sit forever and not move, and then we’ll sell out and right after that someone else will place an order and we have to delay fulfillment until we restock. The other problem is when a supplier leaves us hanging. Before we issue a new catalog, we try to contact suppliers to make sure all items will continue to be available. But by the time the catalog is printed and mailed, some of them decide to call it quits, or to drop Smokey from their production because they find the market is smaller than they thought, or Aunt Minnie is sick and they can’t fill our orders for awhile. You’d be amazed at how often this happens and the reasons are as varied as why planes are delayed.
To avoid these problems, we try to obtain the license to produce as many of the items ourselves as possible. On the other hand, many of our suppliers are dependable, trustworthy, and it is a pleasure doing business with them.
So, it keeps life interesting. As always, we do our best to carry as many Smokey products as we believe are of good quality and don’t duplicate others too much. The bottom line is that we do our best to satisfy customers and we will continue doing the supply balancing act to the best of our abilities.
Note: Woodland Catalog featuring Smokey Bear products has been owned and operated by long-time association members Jim & Dawn Fazio for over 30 years. You can visit their website at www.smokeybeargifts.com.