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Thread: Backorder Question.

  1. #1
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    Backorder Question.

    Both as an optician, and now as a sales rep this is a problem for me as I know it is for all of you. My main question is what is considered from the buyers standpoint to be acceptable as ...

    ...a percentage of an order backordered (i.e. 30 frames/6 bo. 20%)
    ...the time it takes for an item to come off backorder (1 mo?)

    And what do you personally believe contributes to this problem?

    Thank you in advance for your time and responses.

    aaron

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    I have always concidered this to be an inexusable problem. We are in the eyecare, healthcare business not? The things we use are made to enable people to see. I have seen backorders on contact lenses for months. It seems that the most needed (aphakic, keratoconnus, etc.) are the most likely to be on indefinite backorder. As the giants of the industry become more dominant the worse the problem becomes. When contact lenses were like dental labs, if you needed something right away, you called up the lab, cussed out the owner and got the job overnight even if they had to work long past quitting time. Then you bought the owner a beer the next day and became friends again.

    Now with the behemouths and beancounters in the industry you can't even find anyone to cuss at. The peons taking orders don't even know who is in charge.

    I don't see any end or solution to this. The patient be damned, the bottom line is all powerful.

    Chip

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    Master OptiBoarder rbaker's Avatar
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    Well, I really do not find any level of back orders acceptable. However, in today’s world it is almost inescapable; therefore, I would only buy from vendors who have minimal back orders. This convoluted supply chain brought on by globalization and the lack of integrated inventory management by vendors and end user is the principal culprit along with the “style and fashion” characteristics of ophthalmic frames.

    Of course, there now exists opportunities for domestic frame manufacturers to address these issues and perhaps make a dollar in the bargain. There are also challenges and opportunities on the retail level for those who have the talent to reengineer their business model to match today’s manufacturing and distribution environment.

    Yet another reason I am glad to be retired and on the outside looking in.

  4. #4
    Sawptician PAkev's Avatar
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    To me "backorder" means it is an ordinarily stocked item which has been sold through and will be replaced shortly. I believe 7-10 days is a reasonable amount time for legimate backorders. However, it seems many frame vendors lately have been taking too much liberty with backorder issues.

    To the consumer extremely delayed backorders also diminish integrity of the image which a brand conveys. Although we can often convey the reasoning of a backordered frame, the consumer often doesn't know it is a common occurance.

  5. #5
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Jedi's Avatar
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    Backorders on items that should be regularly in stock should never happen. This includes contacts, finished lenses, semi-finished lenses, lens solutions and cases, (items that are not dependant on trends). If a lens company (contact or spectacle) launches a new product and cannot satisfy an industry need than they should delay the launch until they have sufficent stock. Ellipse in 1.67 comes to mind. Frames on the other hand are a little more understandable, nobody can really predict a best seller. What I would like to see frame companies do instead is give "concrete" ETA's on backorders, instead of constantly B/O a frame until it is disco, that really bugs me.
    "It's not impossible. I used to bull's-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home."


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    Master OptiBoarder LENNY's Avatar
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    I think you have to look on this PROBLEM from the consumers point of view!

    Lets say we sold a frame and for some reason have to order a new one for the customer.

    how long would YOU wait to get the new pair of glasses?

    I would do 1 week!

    In two weeks i would cancel my order!

  7. #7
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    The problem originated with the manufactures carrying way too many frames. How can a frame manufacturer possibly anticipate which 10 of their gazillion frame styles are possibly going to be successful. They have how many frames styles with 3-4 sizes and 3-4 colors in each size? How the heck do you figure which style, color and size is going to be needed most?

    You don't!!
    Did you ever to the math on that in multiples of...let's say a thousand?

    So they make a run of all of their frames with equal numbers of sizes and colors in a particular style. All of a sudden model #100 in 52 black is hot and the stock is depleated. So the factory has to make more of #100 in 52 black...but, wait... they can't do that, because they haven't finished the run on # 250 49 in brown...or #299 47 in purple. So...let's backorder it! When they finish the orders that they originally started...they'll get around to it!

    The bottom line is they have to many frickin lines and too many frickin frames, trying to be the top dog and they've shot themselves in the a@@ tryin to do it! No way no how can any company supply the number of styles, colors and sizes that these people are tryin to supply without having BACKORDER problems. So they need to wake up and deliver and get rid of half the frames that they offer...maybe even more than half!

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    No solution to this one..............

    Quote Originally Posted by CME4SPECS
    How the heck do you figure which style, color and size is going to be needed most? You don't!!
    It is very hard for a frame distributor to judge which frame will be a good seller or which color. When making the initial order you are careful not to overbuy............then the model takes off and you re-order larger quantities............but the manyfacturer can put you in BO situation for 2 - 3 month.

    There is no solution to this problem I have ever seen in all the years I have been in the optical.
    Chris Ryser
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    DLO. NA.IC.I.T.PO

    http://optochemicals.com............................. http://arcoatings.com

  9. #9
    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    There is an easy way to get around back orders! Just purchase everything you are going to sell in advance. If you have all the frames and contacts on hand before you need them you won't run into backorders!

    That would be easy right!

  10. #10
    Bad address email on file QDO1's Avatar
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    Back orders are fine so long as you are informed. It does miff me somewhat to place an order for frames, and then have them turn up in dribs and drabs over a period of months. The problems this causes are mainly to do with just keeping track of the collective stock level, especially when one is just about to place another stock order elsewhere. The reps should let you know what the stock situation is.

    On the other side of the coin... there are many advantages to dispening frames from stock, besides knowing it is in stock

    I would say that the contact lens manufacturers have a larger responsibility to ensure that the range they offer is always in stock (for a stock lens), as the "prescription and specification" given to patient will be "un-suppliable" without further chair time, and patient inconvinience

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikef
    There is an easy way to get around back orders! Just purchase everything you are going to sell in advance. If you have all the frames and contacts on hand before you need them you won't run into backorders!

    That would be easy right!
    Yes, but a finance nightmare. That is why we have wholesalers.


    I think companies need to smarten up with their backorders. A lot of my reps as soon as they hear about a backorder remove that frame from their bags now. If they are upfront with you then it gives the manufacturer more time to catch up and skew their planned orders.

    Also, it is one thing when you order new stock and it is backordered, but another when it is a warranty job. Inventory can wait, but when a customer breaks his or her frame they need it right away.

  12. #12
    OptiWizard OptiJim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser
    It is very hard for a frame distributor to judge which frame will be a good seller or which color. When making the initial order you are careful not to overbuy............then the model takes off and you re-order larger quantities............but the manyfacturer can put you in BO situation for 2 - 3 month.

    Stock Up! If you see a frame that you think will be popular and the price is affordable, buy more than one or two. Backorders cut into your profit margin and ability to give great customer service by not having the item in stock. Opticians know which frames are selling and should invest in a small stock of their own, that way they ensure their own success even if a boat capsizes and all the frames are sitting at the bottom of the ocean.

    The frame business is an educated guessing game at best. We have tried to minimize the B/O situation with new product by offering a "pre-sale" so we can get somewhat of a guess of how popular a frame/line will be. This gives us enough time to place another reorder of the popular models which will arrive shortly after the initial inventory. Just one idea to minimize the B/O nightmare.

    Bottom line is that if you are wanting to ensure you have frames in stock, buy them. But be careful, you may end up with overstock, OOOPPPSS. Thats part of the initial problem.

    Contacts and lenses are another problem. Good Luck!!:)

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    Thank for all of the opinions guys. I definetly agree with pretty much what all of you are saying. I have recently tryed to understand why things like this happen on my side (frame sales). I don't think there is any reason that a contact lens or optical lens should ever be on backorder. But with frames it is a differant story. You cannot always predict the hot piece and even though the solution would seem to be to produce less styles and focus on being responsable with the ones made, that does not work in this industry.

    I may get a little flack for this but I think that it is also related (at least in part) to the return policies that have taken over the industry. Imagine a company selling Nordstroms 5,000 purses...N. in turn sell 1,000 and turn around and say "you know...this style is really not working for us so we would like you to take it back and send us something else." It doesn't happen like that. That is because the people that buy for Nordstroms are profesional merchants that are always looking out for the bottom line, know their consumer, and are accountable. What I see more of is exactly the opposite which creates a "lets buy it and see if it sticks" mentality. There is no care taken in the buying because there is no accountability to the purchase.

    How is this related to backorders you ask?? A large frame distributor will shy away from producing adaquete supplies of product knowing that consistantly the return rate for product in this industry is over 30%. What do they do with the product when it comes back? Sell it as close-outs, wal-mart, costco, etc...which in turn infuriates all of us. So each company has to be very conservative with its stocking of inventory because no matter what the frame actually cost to make, there is a large cost in maintaining inventories. And a factory cannot go to work on one style in one color for one country. They have to wait until it is cost effective to go into production on something.

    I think that if each individual business took care to watch its return rate than it would not only benefit that business (man-hours wasted, shipping costs, accountable staff interested in the bottom line, etc...), but the frame companies would then have to be more responsable in production because of the risk involved going down.

    But then again.....

    aaron

  14. #14
    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    Frame companies have backorder problems too! If the are waiting on raw materials they can't make the frame!

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    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    All companies could get rid of backorders!

    Are you all willing to pay $1000 per frame?

  16. #16
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    THE FLIP SIDE OF BACKORDERS IS DISCONTINUED!

    The situation has not caused a problem for me as I sell from the boards. If I don't have the correct size and color of a particular style...I move on to another style. I have a lot of money tied up in frame inventory and you can bet I'm going to sell a frame I have in stock! If I can't find a frame that fits some one in my some 800 frames, I've done a poor job of purchasing. Once in a while you get stumped, but, not often!

    If you are going to carry a back log of a particular style, why carry all of the frames?

    If you think about frame production from the manufacturers point of view it's like this...

    They make let's say for example 1000 frames of a particular style size and color, for the frame to be profitable for them. The style comes in 3 sizes and 5 colors. For them to do a complete run of all sizes and colors, they need to make 15,000 frames...just for 1 stlye. They know that they can sell the 15,000 frames at x number of dollars and it has profitablity.

    Size 50 color A takes off like a rocket and the original 1000 frames is quickly depleated. So, they still have orders beyond the 1000, so they decide to make another run of 1000 (or whatever the magic number is to make it profiable). But, they have other orders to fill that have priority, so they get back ordered. Now what about that 52 color B in that same style that hasn't done so well for them? They are happy that they got rid of that original batch of 1000 frames and are sure not going to run another 1000! So you get "sorry that frame has been discontinued" when you call to order.

    If you learn to play the game properly you'll have fewer problems! Backorders are a problem, but what are you doing to prevent it?

    I tell customers quite frequently that they only make so many of each style and when they are gone they are gone!

    Sell the frames on your boards!

  17. #17
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    CME4SPECS,

    Can I take you on the road with me?

    aaron

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron
    CME4SPECS,

    Can I take you on the road with me?

    aaron
    Sorry...you couldn't afford me!
    Everyone seems to only look at situations from their own point of few. The way I see it, if you know that backorders are going to occur...sell what you have in stock! It works for me! Pretty simple huh?

  19. #19
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    As a customer, I don't expect backorder problems with lenses, etc. I've never had one with frames until just now, and I ordered from a large company online. The exact style and color I wanted was backordered (a big frame company, Kenmark group) and I think it took about 3 weeks for me to get it. That wasn't too bad as it wasn't any emergency I get new glasses right now, just an updated prescription. I preferred to wait for the frame I really wanted. It did actually come in within that time frame, so it was okay with me, although I would have preferred it otherwise.

    I could have had a different color in that frame, but I didn't want it. So they don't seem to know their best sellers. As someone said, this particular company (Fundamentals, I think that's a brand by Kenmark) has a catalogue online with about a zillion variations of frames that aren't that different. The shapes and sizes vary just slightly between many of them. I don't know why they do that. Most of them come in 2-3 major colors, which makes sense, but not the 100 or so variations on shape for a basic wire-rim frame.

    The only thing that bothered me was that there was a place I planned to go to get the lenses in them which was having a big sale last month, and by the time I got the frames, that sale was over. I know those sales are periodic, so we'll see, but otherwise I wouldn't have cared too much. I would not have wanted to wait several months, though.

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