For some unknown reason, our system was set to throw out the largest order, then make sure we had 50% more than the second largest order in stock. For items that we were averaging a few per year without the occasional large order we now have large quantities of. What a mess.
Now that we're stocking more of the first few brands, though, we're getting more orders out the door in a faster manner. There are more and more orders in stock at the time they're placed. Now, if we could just get them all pulled, boxed, and out the door same day we'd be really cool.
We started looking at some of our competitors this week. Competitors? That's funny. In any case, they're selling things at a competitive price. We're paying less than many of them for the products and we're starting to see profits regularly now, but at the volumes they must be doing (less than us according to the manufacturers) they can't be actually making money.
If they were doing anywhere near our volume, they'd realize that some of their policies just can't be sustained. One is trying to attract larger value orders by offering free shipping. Well, by the time you get an order picked, packed, and shipped, they're going to be losing money. Parts are a largely labor intensive item to ship. Even just receiving parts is now a full-time job for several people for us. Another person for ordering, several others for pulling, and several for shipping. There isn't any way that you could stay in business offering free shipping on parts at a high volume. The only way it'll work is if you place an order to the manufacturer for just those items, then ship them right back out when you get them. Doing any volume, those items will get lost in the mix (we order 100's and 100's of items each time we order, and we order from most manufacturers twice daily.)
Realizing that we are the largest for most of the brands we carry, we're probably well ahead of the competition in finding problems they'll be facing if they grow in any substantial amount. I guess they'll learn soon enough, or maybe not. Depends on how well we do our job. :-)