Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Avioding the Vendor Burn

I got a phone call the other day from vendor of mine. My order from CHA's January show was ready to ship! Five months late!  The whole experience has me so ticked off, I thought I would share a little of what I've learned.

The show Experience:
I went to CHA on the fly last January. I wasn't planning to go but, one of the film jobs I landed was shooting there and a fellow Fire Diva wanted me to take a social media class with her so, I found myself at the show anyway. I did a quick inventory of my shop and went to my two favorite jewelry vendors with a list of tools and accessories I would need for my upcoming classes. I also went with a new mission: Find new goodies to build NEW  classes around.
Koi pond - part of my half price sale on Artfire

As I was leaving the first vendor, order already having been placed, a demo artist I knew from my Carol Duvall days grabbed me in their booth and showed me their kumihimo braiding line. I had been looking for a way to teach bead crochet but couldn't quite work out some of the logistics of teaching in a college setting as opposed to a bead store. Kumihimo would allow them to finish in two classes and the stitch work is not difficult. So I walked back over and added to my order.

This vendor does NOT give customers copies of an order. Which is lesson #1: I know you may be tired and that your feet hurt, but take their order form and transpose EVERYTHING to your own notebook. Item numbers, colors, quantities and descriptions. I did not do this!

The next vendor where I order most of the cheaper tools that the college prefers I sell had a new copper findings line. As the cost of sterling is through the freaking roof, I looked for and found all the accessories to rework my current wire classes into copper or silver coated copper to keep costs down. I ordered tons of findings! This vendor did give me a copy of my order but it was all item numbers! NO descriptions. Gee, that's helpful...NOT! Furthermore, as many of the items were new, several had the same number. I'm the one who caught this as my sales rep was writing up my order! Those are the only items that had any kind of description beside the number.
Bail Making Pliers... My new favorite must have!

After the Show:
Vendor #1 sent me a partial order the next week. But I only received  some of the kumihimo products: a few disks, mismatched cording (instead of the color coordinated sets I wanted), no beads, no bobbins, no class books. I had to put the new class on hold and wait for the products I was so excited about to be available.

Vendor #2 phoned to say that "some" of my findings were in but it would be "a few weeks" before the rest were in stock and they gave me the option to refuse the order or take a partial order. As I needed the tools, I took the partial order. It arrived with a few necklace blanks and all tools. I hardly call that "some." Yet another project has to be postponed.

Lesson #2: Ask the vendor for an ETA. If they don't meet that date... shop elsewhere!

Wire Wrapped Cupcake - also 1/2 price on Artfire

Five months later...

I'm now trying to figure out what is missing from the first vendor's order as I do finally have kumihimo classes starting.

And Vendor #2 sent me a list of what is finally in stock and I'm going through their online catalog to match item numbers to photos and to see if I still have a need for it as some of my jewelry classes have been cut back.  If I had a list of what I really wanted from the CHA show to compare, things would be a bit easier.

Which leads to the most important lesson #3: When standing there at the show, ask the vendor, ARE THESE ITEMS IN STOCK NOW? Next year, I will be certain to say, "Don't even show me things that aren't available NOW! I don't want to see the line you plan to roll out in six months..."

Lessons learned... Move on!


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