Production - Special Requests - Shopping Cart

Certain issues have been a constant concern over the years. I've spent huge amounts of time trying to figure out how to serve everyone best, and the only conclusion I've come to is that all must be treated the same to whatever extent is possible. Hopefully, this post sheds some light on how and why we handle such matters.

Over the past year, we have significantly increased our production capacity and are making more puzzles than ever before. Unfortunately, we still struggle to meet demand. There are several factors involved:

  • It's difficult to estimate demand. Many puzzles sell out immediately, but some take a while. Those which sell slowly represent expense, basically cash sitting on a shelf not available to pay bills. If we miss the mark and too many are slow sellers, we run the risk of cash flow issues. Therefore making larger batches carries more risk.
  • Larger batches also amplify production errors. If we make a batch of 50 and something goes wrong it's a lot easier to fix than if we're making 150. Again, more risk.
  • Finally, there is a balance between meeting demand and providing variety. If we double production of one design, that generally means there's another not being made available at all.

Special Requests
In a perfect world, I would be able to make exactly as many copies as are desired. In reality, that's impossible. Attempting to balance demand and supply is far from a science, and sometimes we miss the mark. When that happens, I am frequently inundated with requests from collectors who are upset they were not able to acquire a particular item.

Many times these customers request special treatment, such as a reservation or advance notice of later releases. Some customers request information that has not been released to the general public. Others are upset that they were not able to complete check out after items were added to their cart. I want to address these now and hopefully shed some light on why our policy is to attempt to treat all customers equally.

Holds and Reservations
With rare exceptions, we generally decline to reserve or hold items for customers. If we did take reservations, it would quickly reach a point where there are no spaces left for newer collectors and no inventory for the update.
Put another way, if I made exceptions, there would be dozens of people ahead of you who I already granted one to, and I still wouldn't be able to help.
Finally, there is a significant administrative overhead to doing business this way, which means more overhead and less production time.

Special Information Requests
We release information on upcoming work as best we can, but most of our focus is on production. Arguably, releasing information is marketing. I admit marketing is not a priority at this time; I would rather spend effort on production than further increasing demand.
Requesting information not already published slows down production. Again, it would not be fair to our other collectors to give one person an advantage by providing them with information others are not given.

Website Checkout
It's stated on the website that items added to the cart are not reserved until the order is completed. This is the way the cart is built, and changing it would require costly custom programming. But let's assume we can change it - what then?
If we reserve cart items for a period of time it would merely shift the goal post from checkout to cart addition. Supply and demand remain unchanged.
The mechanism could also be abused; a bad actor could add multiple copies and tie them up in the system, making the item appear sold out when it isn't.
Finally, it would also create an environment where customers are incentivized to keep hanging out and refreshing their browsers, hoping to catch items falling back into inventory from abandoned carts. This would prolong the ordering process. Better to have a quick resolution.