Why we’re so short of stock and some info that might help you.
In our customer survey back in February I apologised for the constant out of stocks situation. Now we’re into September and its even worse.
As I started Vulpine I was at many points crushed by fear. Fear that I was fashioning a company so closely to my own wants and needs that it was just a flight of fancy, an ego trip, destined for the a short quiet pathetic death.
But mostly I plugged on, ignoring the naysayers, and we launched 18 months ago. To my occasional amazement (despite a large dollop of self-belief) Vulpine kicked off fast and hard. The reviews were superb, with coverage in the broadsheets, TV, etc, and it all went a bit nuts.
So suddenly we knew it was working and we’d better order stock. Fast.
Well, ‘fast’ is relative….If we’re really lucky we can get an order 4 months after we sign it off. It can even take 9 months. In that time the company and demand from you can change exponentially. And that keeps being the case.
We just keep growing. Its a wonderful thing, but like hanging onto an unbroken horse. Fast, exhausting and an immense thrill.
It seems that word of mouth is kicking in. We’ve hardly needed to go out and tell people about ourselves. Customers come to us via recommendation and reputation, which is extraordinary within this timeframe. But as we sell faster our stock requirement predictions stretch beyond us and fall by the wayside almost as soon as the orders are placed.
So why not just order a massive great chunk of stock? Cash.
Money buys garments. We get cash by selling garments. Since we’re selling so many times fewer garments, say, 6 months ago compared to now, we have far less cash to spend than stock required. It’s a classic cashflow problem for new businesses that explode rather than gradually expand.
Add into that a number of manufacturing delays (we only accept the highest standards, which often means delays), some very rigourous testing and checks before release to the public, and you’ve got a whole load of out of stocks. We only have a some short sleeve merinos in stock now.
I am genuinely sorry.
There's the explanation, now something slightly more helpful. Lets talk about how this affects you and what we’re doing about it.
There are a number of shipments arriving over the next 7 weeks or so. Here’s what we expect. And we’re trying damned hard to make this all happen:
All garments in men’s and women’s cuts.
20th September – THIS FRIDAY!
Harrington and Original Rain Jackets go live on Vulpine.cc and starts filtering into some stockists. This is a specially arranged advance parcel. It will be divided out between pre-ordering customers and our stockists. There will be more stock arriving in 6 weeks.
Long Sleeve Merino Alpine Jerseys *new*
Short Sleeve Merino Alpine Jerseys *limited edition*
Long Sleeve Merino Polos *new for women*
Short Sleeve Merino Polos *new for women*
Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirts *new for women too*
Softshell Jackets *new for women too*
Softshell Gilets *new*
You can also use the "Returning Now" option in the Shop to see what we make that is making a planned return, but we have nil stock of.
What now? Well, judging by the rather intense advance purchases, we’ll be running out of rain gear well before Christmas. They won’t return for sometime after that.
Advance purchases? If you haven’t visited us recently you may not have spotted that we’re making improvements to the site all the time. One of them is the ability to pre-order garments. This is essentially reserving stock before it goes on general sale and its a facility we realised we should create for the many of you who are getting frustrated at missing out. This means you're reserving stock before it hits general sale.
Another system we’ve added to help with stock is a new Stock Availability feature for each garment. We have signs that warn of low stock. When that happens it generally means you have hours to days to buy that garment before it runs out. Hopefully this is a useful early warning system. As you'll see below, we have a road sign system that's easily read, plus the ability to sign up to a notification of when stock is back in.
At the moment, particularly with the Harrington Rain and Original Rain jackets, buying early rather than waiting for Christmas is strongly advised.
Amongst the other garments on their way, we know that Alpine Jerseys, particularly for women, went very very fast. We have a limited run of short sleeve Alpines in two one-off colours arriving soon. They’re unlikely to hang around.
The Long Sleeve Alpine is new, so you never can tell. The Storm Caps should return soon and we could never keep up, with one run selling out in hours last year.
Really its a lot of informed guess work. We hope we’ve helped make things clearer, but the best advice is not to wait, if possible. If you’re putting something on a Christmas list, maybe put a note against it that we’re a small company where stock runs out quickly.
And for next year. Well, we’ve placed our Spring orders and adding further orders all the time. We’re trying hard to keep up and we’ll keep you informed as best we can.
Lucky shopping. Happy riding!