Thank You DI Customers!

It’s 4:13 PM on Tuesday and I think this is the first second that I’ve had to relax since last Wednesday. The past five days have been out of control busy. When posted on Thursday I was excited to find out what was to come of our Thanksgiving-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday sale, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even with all of the preparation and all of the things we’ve improved upon in the last year (namely the new Detailed Image site, which has only been around some six months even though it seems like we’ve had in place forever), the numbers from last year were pretty daunting. And sales are always slow in late October and early November, which make it hard to predict the magnitude of increase in sales over just a few short days. Spring is busy, but it happens gradually. The holidays hit us like a brick.

We basically obliterated our sales from last year over the same Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday five day stretch. Monday was our largest single day of sales. We shipped a record number of packages (even though we shipped a lot on Friday when most businesses are closed). And despite the slow sales early in November, we had our best month ever by 25%.

I wanted to snap one big photo like I did last year, but it didn’t work out like that. When FedEx came around 3 PM we weren’t even close to done. They had to send another truck a few hours later to finish off all of our packages.

Here’s what it looked like when the first truck came:

Cyber Monday 2009 Pure Adapt

Here’s our driver starting to load his empty truck with our packages:

Cyber Monday 2009 Pure Adapt

Also, we noticed that our driver has a freaky Michael Jackson mask on the right side of his truck (look closely at the photo above) so I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of that:

Cyber Monday 2009 Pure Adapt

Imagine wearing that on Halloween?  That would scare the shit out of me!

And here’s what the second truck had to pick up:

Cyber Monday 2009 Pure Adapt

While it’s fresh on my mind, a few quick miscellaneous thoughts:

  • We picked up a few new brands while it was slow in Oct/Nov and I think it hurt us a bit with our other inventory by forcing us to be too lean.  Next year we’ll have to set some of that extra cash aside to stock up on our best sellers.  We’re out of a few of our big items and for the next week or two it’ll be a pain to juggle everything that’s on backorder.
  • The site held up surprisingly well.  I say “surprisingly” because when we had a 25% off one-day sale during the spring there were all sorts of issues.  We made a special effort to fix all of that in preparation for the next mad rush.  The server never skipped a beat.  We had no customer complaints this time.  Phew.
  • Still, a few minor technical issues arose during the madness so I had to do some quick programming fixes.  Just the nature of the beast.
  • Days like Monday are soooo tiring.  It’s physically tiring because you’re scrambling around the warehouse for 8+ hours.  It’s mentally tiring because you’re trying to juggle all sorts of things in your head  – are we out of stock on this?  when is it coming?  did someone email the customer?  did we set it up in our backorder system so anyone who orders now will get auto emailed and have their order moved out of our shipping queue? has anyone talked to this customer?  if it’s going to be a while, should we offer refunds or credit?  who is going to handle that? etc, etc.
  • There’s a certain sense of comraderie that evolves from these chaotic days.  Everyone is worn out, but it’s a good kind of worn out.  It validates our hard work.  We had so much fun watching the new orders come in every few seconds all day long.
  • It’s amazing how much difference another year’s worth of hard work makes. All of the little things add up.
  • Hands down my inbox was more full than ever before.  I tried to stay on top of it all weekend.  One of the rare times that I kept it open all day long.
  • If we were this busy every day I think I’d go insane.  Then again, two years ago a normal Wednesday now would have left us with the same feeling.  You can definitely grow too fast.  Anyone who disagrees has never dealt with the growing pains that any successful business goes through.

Tonight I’m going to relax and try to get myself back to neutral. We’ve still got some pretty big sales left before Christmas so I’m anticipating we’ll continue to be pretty busy.

13 comments on Thank You DI Customers!

  1. Nev says:

    AWESOME!!!!

    I anticipated this post since you guys have been making the site kick so much ass in the previous months…wasn’t hard to expect such a great result.

    I hear you on the inventory issues…they all happen at once and keeping customers notified and happy is a lot of tedious work and ETA juggling.
    The fact your suppliers are also crunched during the holidays just exacerbates the problem.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Yes it does. Almost all of our suppliers take off the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the ones who are also manufacturers (which is most of them) have plant shutdowns around the holidays. Some of them can take up to a month to deliver an order as it is…this time of year it’s anyone’s guess. Thankfully the majority of stuff we’re out of should be here in the next week or so, either because it was already on order or because it’s coming from one of the companies that ships quickly.

  2. Jakob says:

    Wow, that is awesome! The sight of all those packages heading out must be just beautiful to you. Congrats!

  3. TIm says:

    You Rockin! That is no longer a question 🙂

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Haha thanks Tim.

      The “you rockin” reference is an inside joke that I’d love to share with the world…but probably shouldn’t.

  4. Rob says:

    Congratz! Enjoy the well-earned rest.

  5. Dave says:

    That’s awesome Adam, congrats! I’m starting to get closer to your world with CFG. While I’m not doing quite as many orders, it’s still a one man show here with a full-time job. I definitely saw our biggest day of orders come in last month…we had a few days of 30-40 orders…which I’m sure doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is! I’ll be leaving the day job starting Jan 1, I’m very excited about it, and hope to be following in your success 🙂

    Keep posts like this coming, it’s extremely inspiring.

      • Adam McFarland says:

        Awesome Dave congrats! It’s amazing how fast you’ve grown the new CFG store. 30-40 orders is definitely a lot, especially at the prices you’re selling stuff at. I’m impressed at how you’re doing it all by yourself with a full time job right now! It’s nice that you can operate out of your house…keep it that way as long as you can and save $ (plus the convenience factor). Our warehouse is affordable as far as warehouses go, but it’s still a pretty big expense.

        And I’m glad to hear you’re able to leave your job! That’s SO exciting. It’s something everyone dreams of but most people never do 🙂

  6. Rob says:

    Right, thought I’d leave another comment as we’ve just finished our longest, best day to date. Tonight we simultaneously photographed 5 events, in 5 locations using 11 staff, juggling equipment, client expectations, averted a few major disasters and seem to have come through reasonably unscathed – woot! Now, time for bed (at 5.02am!). We ROCK at logistics.

  7. […] we completed another killer end to November. Much like in previous years (2009, 2008), we really nailed the prime Holiday shopping period that now stretches from the Wednesday […]

  8. […] it felt. It wasn’t hectic like it was in previous years (see posts from Cyber Monday 2008, 2009, and 2010) but orders were coming in at just as fast of a pace, if not faster. Compared to say 2009 […]

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