Shipping. The most annoying part of owning an online retail business, hands down. I love when customers keep in contact with me and they're happy with their packages and the prompt delivery. Unfortunately, I have been on the receiving end of "not so happy" customers because their order has been late. This is not done intentional. I can assure you that. Without boring you with the details, handmade items are much different than ordering something online from say, Target or Anthropologie. I don't have an army of workers, slaving away at making headbands. I have wished many times, I did. I have two full-time assistants and during extremely busy times, such as the holidays, I have a couple extra hands when needed. The bad thing about this is I am the only one that is skilled in making the accessories. I have trained my assistants with the "prep" process of creating Dainty Button accessories, but when it comes down to actually finishing it, it's all up to me. That's why it's very important to have as much of the "prep" process completed before I step in. A few facts about Dainty Button accessories. When we say "handmade for you", we mean it. Dainty Button accessories, except the the Shoe Collection, is made from scratch. There is no embellishing anything.
1. All headbands and wraps are sewn from scratch.
2. All leaves are handcut by the Dainty Button team.
3. All flowers, including the petals on the "It's a Wrap" Collection are handcut by the Dainty Button team.
4. Dainty Button muslin packaging bags are measured, cut, sewn and hand stamped by the Dainty Button team.
Now, you might understand that it's not very easy to get orders out very quickly, especially when there is an average of 20-30 orders a week. Not headbands, but orders. Some orders have consisted of up to 25 pieces. This is etsy orders, only. We also have an average of 1-4 conferences, trunk shows and craft fairs quarterly. I say all of this to try and explain the process of a custom handmade business.
So, for the past 6 to 7 months, I have been brainstorming and racking my brain as to how I can create a quick and easy creating and shipping process. A few months ago, one of my assistants was thinking out loud, as I was pulling out my hair and about to throw my sewing machine out the window. She suggested pre-making everything. Well, her and about a dozen others had suggested this. Yes, this would be such a great help, but when would we actually have time to sit down and pre-make each design? My etsy shop carries an average of 90-105 pieces in inventory. Sure, that was a great idea. That would be just swell. Again, WHEN would we have the time? Well, business became even crazier during the holiday season and I almost had 10 nervous breakdowns within 6 months. My family finally called an intervention. My dad sat down with me about a month ago and told me I needed to make a change or close up shop. Well, I'm a 27 year old woman that could've easily said, "this is my business and I'll do it my way", but I'm not stupid. I know that my dad has many years experience and wisdom to see when someone, especially his own daughter, was headed for trouble. So, I hit my knees. Some may think this is crazy, but I have ALWAYS prayed about every issue in my life, including purchasing cars, jobs, etc., and I really needed some direction. And I believe with my whole heart that the past month, has been orchestrated by God. Thanks to a wonderful team of assistants, friends and family, I was able to get my studio organized, throw a successful grand opening and get orders under control.
NOW, we could pre-make inventory. My initial idea was to pre-make everything and have 3-5 already made pieces of each design in stock. Well, yeah, that would be great but I was also thinking of where would I put that many accessories, without squashing them. I don't like sending out squashed items and I'm sure, you as a customer, would not want to receive a squashed headband. So, we had a creative brainstorming meeting and created a great process. I hired a "shipping/receiving and packaging" team member who now controls all orders and comes in on certain days to package and ship, as well as take care of all packaging supplies. My other two assistants have been put in charge of prepping all designs. Handcutting flowers, leaves, etc. I, for the time being, am controlling the sewing process of all accessories. We closed down shop over the weekend, as well as mainstreamed and maintained incoming orders last week and knocked it all out. We now have successfully accomplished the "prep" process for over 100 Dainty Button pieces, allowing us to have 3-5 in stock of each. This leads us to our new shipping turnaround of 3-5 business days, versus our older shipping turnaround of 7-10 business days. Big change! Good change!
I feel like I have accomplished so much! I have accomplished so much! This has cut down on our time at least 50, if not 60%. Here are a few things to understand about the new shipping turnaround.
We only ship on Thursday's and Friday's. This has turned out perfectly because our new shipping turnaround policy began today, which sets the schedule for our weekly outgoing shipment schedule. If you place orders between Friday and Tuesday, your order will go out that Thursday or following Friday (3-5 business days). Example:
Order: Friday, February 11th through Tuesday, February 15th
Outgoing: Thursday, February 18th or Friday, February 18th
(This is only an example. The new shipping policy did not start until February 14th.)
If you place your order on a Wednesday or Thursday, it will go out the following Thursday (again, 3-5 business days). Example:
Order: Wednesday, February 16th through Thursday, February 17th
Outgoing: Thursday, February 24th or Friday, February 25th.
Hopefully, this makes sense. Please note that if it says "Item is on backorder" when you purchase in my etsy shop, that means items will take 7-10 business days after purchase. My next goal is to get it out quicker and once I'm able to find the proper storage space, all accessories will be pre-made up to completion and ship out within 24-48 hours. BUT, that is something that will, like everything else, be a work in progress. I'm just happy to have accomplished this! : )
And last, but definitely not least...
The Spring Swag Bag Giveaway winner!
Another big transition that we are still working on is our official Dainty Button fan page. Trying to get over 2,000 "friends" from the old profile to switch over to the fan page has been interesting, but we're slowly transitioning well. I created a fun giveaway that would hopefully, help motivate others to make the switch. The details on what the fabulous Spring Swag Bag giveaway includes, can be found here...
I'd rather not use the word "bribe" : ) Determining the winner was quite a tricky task. I had to go back through a week's worth of comments on the fan page and blog. But, a winner has been chosen!
A HUGE congrats to...
Might, I add a HUGE "thank you" to everybody that participated and took the time out to share Dainty Button with so many of your friends. I mean every word when I say that Dainty Button wouldn't be the success it is, without all of you wonderful ladies. Thank you so, so, so very much! I really appreciate your support!
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Charity @ Dainty Button