Post Release Thoughts
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We are a bit over 1,200 of you all.
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Post Release Thoughts
The June 8th release officially became our most significant release to date in terms of both volume (# of orders shipped) and revenue generated. Creating products that people enjoy and want to purchase is an incredible feeling.
That being said, the purpose of this post is to act as a debrief for me to see where things went well and where we can improve. I will constantly reiterate how proud I am of Shawn for working through prep and managing the different things I delegate to him. Johnathan, who comes on board during releases to help pack and ship, was also excellent and always works extremely hard (this was his second release with us).
The debrief framework I will use can be found in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article titled "Debriefing: A Simple Tool to Help Your Team Tackle Tough Problems."
What were we trying to accomplish?
The number 1 goal during any release is to get shipments out of the warehouse and into customers' hands as quickly as possible while limiting any errors in the order fulfillment process. Prep work starting weeks in advance is the single biggest factor determining how fast / smoothly products will be shipped after they are purchased.
Our prep for this release was the best that we have ever had. I believe this can be tied back to this being the first time we didn't have to rush to receive our products from manufacturing and get them released (1 or 2 days) later. The second contributing factor was us going into the release after already having 1 release under our belts in the new warehouse. With it being our second time releasing from the warehouse, we were able to properly plan workflow while also setting up product picking stations more efficiently.
Where did we hit (or miss) our objectives?
Below you will see two charts. The first is "time from order to fulfillment," and the second is "number of days to delivery" both of these data sets are from June 8th through June 11th, with the white vertical line being where the average falls. I have cut the left side (volume of orders) from the screenshot on purpose.
The median time to fulfillment was 22.3 hours after the order was placed. I believe some improvements can be made in this window of time. The most significant contributing factor to a decrease in order fulfillment time would be to add more individuals working on order fulfillment. Currently, I (Marcus) manage the printing/organization of the labels by product type and then help pack and ship when I have any spare time. Shawn and Johnathan take the shipping labels sorted by product type and pack/stack/get ready for shipment. Adding more people to the back end of that equation (the packing/stacking/shipping) could exponentially decrease the time it takes to fulfill the orders. It also allows us the possibility of pulling Shawn off the line and allowing him to monitor the support requests (change of address, wrong info, etc.) as well as becoming someone who is printing, sorting, and stacking labels by product type. (keep in mind Shawn and I are both monitoring and responding to support requests throughout all of this)
I am happy with how we were able to get products out and delivered to customers.
The above screenshot displays the average number of days for an order to be delivered to customers. I believe that having a majority of orders in customers' hands within 48 hours is a quality metric that I would like to maintain. A note on international orders (these being the slowest to deliver currently), we will need to set up warehouses (or use a 3PL) to increase shipping times. This poses the issue of splitting inventory most efficiently across the different warehouses. I believe I need to put considerable time into thinking through just how best to go about it.
So while we did get orders delivered to customers, on average, within the 2-day window, I believe we can improve upon how many orders go out within the first 12-20 hours.
What caused our results?
The more prep we can take care of pre-release, the better our speed is during order fulfillment. I am sure that this sounds relatively intuitive, but it seems that the pre-release prep process changes as we continue to learn as the releases come and go. The second best thing to do outside of heavy prep is to keep an open mind to changing processes that have worked in the past.
Pre-Packing all cards + envelopes
We eventually ran out of pre-packed cards + envelopes, which didn't add much pain to the process since Shawn and I could prep a bunch at night in the apartment.
Sorting & Organization of all products
Pre-Taping of box sizes that we use the most
This is a difficult thing to balance. Once a box goes from flat to taped, it takes up exponentially more space.
While I am thrilled with the pace that the (3) of us were able to work at, I think it only makes sense to hire more help to reduce the stress load and spread the work out across more hands.
What should we start, stop, or continue doing?
This is seemingly the most critical part of the debrief framework. I feel that I personally need to continue to work on communicating what exactly is required / where I see things going. I have a tendency to expect Shawn to see a vision that only exists within my own head. While it's clear to me, it's pretty vague to Shawn. On top of this, I also need a way to keep a running list of (think tank) type ideas that Shawn, Clay, or I have for future products or processes.
We are still working through which program is best to use to keep a running map of items that are a work in progress. Right now, I am trying to get the "Roadmap" section of our notion page up to date and figure out the best workflow so that Clay, Shawn, and I can move in and out of that living and breathing document effectively.
Prep will remain a critical part of our infrastructure going forward. I believe that most brands would have outsourced fulfillment at this point. However, shipping and delivery are a cornerstone of our process. We will be looking to expand warehouse space as we are already running up against the space limit in our current location. Two options exist:
Fully move everything to a new and larger location with a more ideal layout for receiving and shipping.
Expand into a 2nd space within our current location. This option is less idea as we have to split equipment/product.
This week's training block was 60 miles with 4 lifts:
Monday: Rest (Lift - Push)
Tuesday: 11 Miles Aerobic (Lift - Pull)
Wednesday: 7 Miles Aerobic (No lift - my legs were crushed and under heavy fatigue)
Thursday: 12 Miles Endurance (Lift - Push)
Friday: 6 Miles Recovery (Lift - Pull)
Saturday: 10 Miles Threshold (No Lift)
Sunday: 14 Miles Endurance (No Lift)
This was our second week at 60 miles. Legs started the week off feeling horrible; however, as the week went on, they loosened up, and we finished the week strong. The 14 miles on Sunday were quite grueling as I set off at 10AM, and it was already around 80 degrees with the sun almost overhead by mile 5. I fought for some shade along the route but figured I would have to take the day as a mental battle day and grind it out. Not a great pace (7:03/mile), but we got it done.
Marathon training starts in 2 weeks. I will follow a plan that peaks at 70 miles per week from the book "Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger.