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Old December 9th, 2016, 10:51 AM   #1
Brian F Male
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Thumbs up Update: Chat restored, holiday backlog almost at completely manageable levels

Two things.

1. Chat is now restored.

Much more reliable app, used by many of the big Silicon Valley service providers. Maybe not the most ideal fit for a shop, but it works for now.

Olark was reliable for more than a year, but completely broke during the holiday surge. I couldn't even chat them via their own app. Couldn't use that any longer, although we'll consider it again for the future. It's a nice visual match for online shops.

2. 3/5th to 4/5ths of the holiday order backlog is out and in the air.

While I'm sure this makes many people happy, I'm sorry if this doesn't include your particular order. Our sincerest apologies.

We're working as fast as we can. We know you want these things as fast as you can get them. Anything including a custom dosage (ExperiMones), alteration or completely custom product is slowest.

I'd still give new orders at least week or so handling time to be safe. I want to make sure people know for sure we're not at our typical shipping speeds.

Keep in mind, though, we sell drastic upgrades to your social life... not shipping or fulfillment. It's a different kind of fulfillment we offer. So give a little time, and we're sure you'll be happy. What you can get fastest isn't always best.

To ensure that you get the most out of your products, we also offer post order support via chat and phone! Amazon Prime may be speedy, but they don't offer any of this.

Thanks,
Brian

PS -- We brought on 2 more workers this holiday, but with little notice lost a long term employee in shipping, Zachary. Left for Australia to get married. Not planned, but hey, love is love.

To speed things up a little more, one of our primary formulators arrives this weekened to make optimizations, especially to the new oil production line.

Once he's done with optimizations, it looks we're going to keep him in Los Angeles for awhile to work on the custom order backlog. That should help a lot!
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Last edited by Brian F; December 13th, 2016 at 10:09 AM.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 09:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: Update: Chat restored, holiday backlog significantly reduced

More updates:

Backlog down from ~500 to ~100.

Much, much better!

Sorry to anyone who waited more than a week. We can handle 50 to 100 packages a day normally, so the flow has gotten quite a bit better.

Of course, the promised men's oils are launching shortly... so.. eeeek!

I realized, though, we are much faster than almost anyone from Etsy.

Etsy is full of "makers" who ship direct. Which is more akin to what we do, than, say Amazon. It's a cool place to get unique stuff. I order lots of tees and knicknacks from there. Average ship time seems to be about 3 weeks from Etsy, which is much slower than we almost ever are. I'm thrilled when anyone ships in a week.

We aim higher and try do all things well, but, I think we have to remember we're in the innovation and life improvement businesses. All while researching, developing and actually making product daily. Much to do for very few people. It's important we do what counts most first. Priorities, priorities.

Our #1 priority must always what's in the bottle and the people who use it. Our goal is to make sure what's in the bottle does the best job possible at improving your life, turning it from ordinary to extraordinary. Worth living. That's our mission.

Missions are what keep people at companies motivated, even during the tough times. I can say that I'm particularly proud of ours.

I never viewed myself as a helping people type person, really, but working here has taught me otherwise. When you've really helped someone to battle loneliness, to get over social anxiety, or get a better job, or find their first girlfriend, or to find or keep the love of their live, it's like wow... it really means something.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 10:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Update: Chat restored, holiday backlog significantly reduced

In other news:

1. We tested several fulfillment hosues to handle non-custom orders. One is clearly better than the rest. Using it requires us moving to a more modern platform, which will happen first for our new, more consumer oriented site.

2. The best fulfillment house we tested takes a day or so to ship. The upside is that they pack things better than anyone else, and try to keep shipping costs reasonable.

3. Direct members will be allowed to use the new consumer site. For our long term members here, we'll offer a coupon or other discount program, since prices to consumers will be higher than here. At least on some items.

3. We've decided to keep around AndroticsDirect.com as long as we can just for this community and the many years of users. We've had to get loans to keep this operation going the last year, since costs have continued to rise. Labor, leases and technology fees have gone up radically. Even formerly cheap parts of the west coast are getting crazy. Silicon Valley has created this sort of exodus to other parts of the west coast, which have then had their own price explosions.

We hope to keep prices basically the same here, or minimally different, by supporting it from consumer sales on other sites. Maybe even indirect sales via 3rd party sites someday.

4. Definitely need to move AndroticsDirect.com to a new platform, so the old tech stack here doesn't keep taking our attention away from more important work.

The thing that complicates it is the points program, especially from the forum. We want to keep rewarding forum members for helping. Modern point programs for modern platforms are a bit different in that they tie into things like airline point programs. Very different than what we have now. Can't easily transfer to one of those. This project needs a point program that's much more simple and focused. Not something that ties into Ambercrombie and American Airlines, haha.

More next post.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 10:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Update: Chat restored, holiday backlog significantly reduced

5. Keep in mind that "re-platforming" is harder than new projects. Much harder. Common experience for anyone who runs this type of thing. Even for someone that runs a blog, re-platofrming is the hardest thing. There's nothing that "imports" users from one very different platform to another. Especially a site like the one we run, which have been significantly customized over the years.

Moving AndroticsDirect to a newer platform is a BIG project.

6. We'd also like to move the forum over to something more modern. We have a service contract for this forum to fix bugs and to make upgrades, but it doesn't get done in a time frame anyone likes. Vbulletin itself is at the end of it's line. Most big forums run vbulletin 3, vbulletin 4, or something else entirely. None use vbulletin 5.

Vbulletin 5 actually looks okay to me, but apparently that's surface level. We keep being told by anyone "in the know" to not use it.

7. For those of you who gave private feedback via Uservoice, thank you. That was a cool service. However, it became too costly this year, going from an already high $500/mo for 5 seats to $2500 per month. We've had similar things happen to other tools. This has been the year of software and service costs going bonkers. All added together, it was just too costly to justify.

The good news is that we now have an amazing programmer from IBM that is tying us into Watson for analysis at a great rate. Watson is the world's most powerful, artificially intelligent supercomputer. Very, very cool! We feel very fortunate. Actually, double fortunate as he likes the whole futurist, almost transhumanist thing we have going on here.

Now it's up to us to find another way to collect off-forum feedback, that Watson can then help to analyze more quickly than we can with humans alone.



Thanks for reading. I know there's lots of changes here. Hopefully most for the better, haha. Actually lots people have asked for a long time, so it should all be cool. We're certainly doing our best to weigh the needs of as many as possible.

I'll post other updates as they come along!

Last edited by Brian F; December 13th, 2016 at 10:49 AM.
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