It’s been almost 4 months since we put up this sign on www.sourceeasy.com.
Here’s why haven’t we launched the sourcing platform we’ve been promising to you.
When we launched Sourceeasy, Our value proposition was simple:
We’d manage the order systems, the production follow up and we’d manufacture the goods to make sure the customer experience is upheld in terms of transparency, communication, honesty and quality.
To date, Sourceeasy has:
439 signups for platform access.
63 active users on our platform.
27 currently active paying customers.
produced and shipped goods for over 140 customers.
Customer churn of <5%. Over 95% of our customers reorder.
Shipped >500,000 units of apparel and accessories since inception.
Orders in hand of >220,000 units
However, despite this progress, over the last 8-10 weeks, we’ve slipped on some of our core commitments to a few of our customers.
We sincerely apologize for the frustrations our customers have faced. We are better than who we’ve been over the last few weeks and we’ll demonstrate that with actions over the next days and months.
It is a testament to our team who’ve stuck by us in tough times that our sales continue to scale significantly despite our Operational Challenges on the back of a few clients who have reposed tremendous faith in us.
Why have our customers loved us?
When we launched in February, we signed up a handful of customers very quickly and were able to delight them both with our commitment to service, honesty and quality.
We sign up customers (Even Today) mostly by word of mouth because of our service and our commitment to please our customers.
- We delivered goods personally to events if Customs or DHL delayed them.
- We did multiple meetings to ensure the fit, the finish and the quality for even a 10 piece order was spot on before it was produced.
- We made sure the print quality for every order was verified by sample and image before production.
- We refunded sample fees for samples that were not perfect.
- We cut our costs in half for customers who could not afford to pay the development charges.
- We negotiated custom pricing for all customers.
How did we plan to scale this Customer Experience?
To keep our customers happy as we scaled, we decided to do 3 things:
We decided to re-engineer the entire platform from the ground up to ensure scalability, robust workflows and to keep the data integrity for the present and the future. We eschewed the “Minimum Viable Product” roadmap and chose to launch in private beta with a handful of use cases rather than go live with a buggy product that would compromise our customers data. This decision was also based on the fact that our beta signup list has swelled to over 430 users and our private beta user list is over 50 users. This told us that the moment businesses start using our platform to build, store and execute their orders we need to have world class technology to protect their data, maintain a seamless experience and hopefully find it easy to use.
Of course, we’ll be rolling out multiple updates over time - but we’re committed to ensuring that every customer who uses our platform is assured of 100% security to their data.
2. Customer Support and Merchandising:
To keep pace with the signups and the order flow, we had to ramp up both our US based Customer Operations and our Offshore Customer Support Team. We offered all early customers personalized service, and in-person follow up from our SF office.
We also planned to ramp up our offshore Customer Service teams to support customers who were on boarded to www.sourceeasy.com to manage their orders, information and production updates.
3. Manufacturing Facility and Vendor Base:
We identified product development (samples, design tech implementation) as the key bottleneck in scaling customer demand expectations. In June, we were in final negotiations to take over an entire factory / its capacities and start exponentially improving predictability of samples, small orders, and guarantee consistent quality.
To this end, We grew our sourcing and manufacturing team and added headcount in India.
So What went wrong, then?
Unfortunately, in August, during due diligence into the negotiations to take over the factory, we found sizable evidence of internal breaches of trust, some to do with dishonest vendors, and some to do with corruption inside our own sourcing team.
We had to let go of a large part of our sourcing team in India in August for issues with honesty and ethics. I’ve been in India since early September primarily rebuilding the entire team and vendor base because a lot of the ethical issues surrounding our previous vendors affected transparent communication and led to manufacturing delays, quality problems and financial irregularities.
As a geographically distributed company, these are risks we’ve chosen to face and have dealt with previously as well, We have vigilance mechanisms to detect these issues and resolve them at the earliest.
However, due to these issues, our commitment to customers, our reputation and our ability to present a single interface to sourcing the right goods at the right price and right quality suffered.
The 4-6 weeks of backlog that extended since August hampered our ability to ramp up our rollout to small and medium customers.
However, we’ve lost a few customers we didn’t want to, we’ve had issues with consistency of fit and finish and the quality of communication has been inconsistent, and terribly vague at times.
We had just 2 people (down from 6) who managed back end manufacturing, product development and quality control for over 6 weeks. We cut our vendor base to 3 vendors (down from 8) we were working with.
This impacted our web platform development and rollout as well. Due to gaps in the operations, and inability to technically manage our supply chain both on the front end and the back end (we just did not have enough people to monitor the platform and take on more orders), we had to push back our roll out of the customer facing platform by 2 months.
So when does this all change?
We’re excited to report that, as of October 15, we’ve been able to revamp the Operations team, our vendor base, the factories and the entire manufacturing supply chain.
Our web platform goes live in under 10 days and is in final stages of testing and deployment.
We now have 14 vendors (factories), 6 Fabric Vendors, 3 Trims/ Accessories vendors and have rebuilt our team to 19 people across Tech, Manufacturing and Operations. This will be scaled to 30 people including Customer and Tech Support by early December.
Our new sample room, fabric warehouse product development and quality control center will be up and running by early December.
We’ll personally handhold all our current customers to resolve all pending development and manufacturing delays and get them up to speed by early November.
We will migrate ALL pending and past development data to our platform by mid November as well so that you will be able to see all your current and past product development history in one place.
We continue to offer a full guarantee on All Goods, Samples and Sales to our customers - We’ve demonstrated this in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
We now have a world class team to execute and deliver on all of our promises.
I’m happy to answer any and all queries at firstname.lastname@example.org