Every week on Tuesday I put through the orders for the week to my distributors. I picked Tuesday for 2 reasons – orders made then normally arrive at the depot on Thursday, meaning I can pick it up then. And since Thursday is the least busy day on the border, I normally can keep the entire run to about 5 hours.
Normally, when ordering, I pull my full list of games from the site into Excel and go through the games one by one, skipping past the games that are yet to be released and out-of-print and checking on one’s that were out-of-stock. This normally means I spend between 3-5 hours (depending on previous weeks sales and no. of distributors I have to check) on Tuesday doing this.
I’ve recently begun wondering if I am going aroud this the wrong way. I could much more easily pull the list of all games sold since last Tuesday and then just re-order those games. All pre-orders are e-mailed direct to the distributors anyway, so those get added on by the distributor when they come in, so I never really have to worry about them (beyond adding to the pre-orders as those come in from customers). It would certainly be faster to go through 100-200 individual games that have been ordered rather than 1,300.
However, this does mean that games that were previously out-of-stock would not be added to my list (though I could just tell the distributors to add the out-of-stock games to the pre-order list for when the games come in). However, that does mean that if distributor A gets in the game before distributor B and my pre-order is with distributor B, I’ll still be waiting for distributor B and never even know that distributor A had stock.
Also, sometimes stock quantities are wrong on the distributor site. So I might order “Dominion” with one distributor, but they’d not ship it because they didn’t have the game. Now, normally I’d catch that in two ways – during unpacking and when I reorder (as I’d see that Dominion is still out-of-stock). Now, I’m reduced to catching it when I’m unpacking.
Lastly, sometimes for one reason or another, I over-order on games. This generally happens for popular games, but unless I make particular note of it, I might keep re-ordering to a much higher than desirable level.
So is saving 2-3 hours worth losing all this? Obviously, I’m also relying on my distributors a bit more as well. I’m just not sure – this particular process has been working well for about a year now. But as we keep growing in size, the re-ordering time is going to keep getting larger.
Ubrarose on Fortress Ameritrash made some great suggestions on how to get to a nice middle ground by using the ‘low stock quantity’ field in the database. Unfortunately, it still means I have to update all my products, then each week specifically create a report and download it from the FTP site instead of using the simple excel downloadable ‘product stock quantity’ sheet. Either way, I’m going to need to test it out for a few weeks before I’m comfortable with it.