Here’s a Good Way to Lose Gift Basket Customers

Copyright Shirley George Frazier. All rights reserved.There’s a sweet potato pie company in my town that sells retail to walk-in customers in addition to shipping their product to commercial accounts.

Five years ago, I went to the retail location to buy 12 mini pies but decided not to buy when I saw a line of customers waiting outside the door. My time is valuable; there was no way I was waiting when I could go elsewhere to buy sweets.

I didn’t return to the walk-in location until this past Monday, days before Thanksgiving, hoping this was enough time to get my order. I opened the door and saw eight people on line. That was acceptable. Then, a woman on the line told me that the mini pies were not available.

“They’re out of small pies,” she announced.

“Thanks,” I said to her, and walked out of the door.

I will not return, ever.

How does a company that only makes pies run out of product? As the holidays arrive, you know that commercial and retail customers are going to want what you make. It seems that whoever is in charge of inventory is not taking care of business.

I’m not working behind the scenes or have insight into this particular company so, of course, factors I know nothing about may be the cause. However, this is a firm that has been in business for many years. Doesn’t anyone know how to plan for demand?

You do not want this scenario to happen in your gift basket business. If you had sales last holiday, you can plan how much product to buy for this season and increase the amount of inventory purchased to prepare for additional orders. Anything left over will be applied to New Year’s baskets and all-occasion gifts created in January.

Designers in my VIP program are fully stocked for December. They are fulfilling orders, diligently marketing for more sales, and have multiple places to call to restock anything that gets depleted. Their customers and others who call to order will not hear that a design is not available.

Which model is the one you plan to follow – the pie company or the VIP designers?