As many of you have noted, we have experienced yet another slow down in shipping. To start with the good news, we will be getting caught up all this week (that's why we've been fairly quiet this past week). And we have finally made some changes that will change ClassicSelect's shipping for the better, and we hope provide some sanity to a situation that has been a black eye for our company since the mid-summer.
Starting this week, we will add a new product supplier for our offerings. Now, this might seem like a simple answer, but remember, in order to provide you with the significant discounts that we provide (for example, our automatic 25% discount), we have to find the items at the lowest possible cost. That often means using distributors and labels that are "off the beaten path" and as we've found, that often means very poor performance on our part. As many of you have pointed out, we should not sell items that are not on our shelves. While that seems simple, it also misses the most recent trends in retail shipping - that most web-based retail stores do NOT ship on their own, and unless they are Amazon, or owned by a large distributor, they rely on "dropshipping" companies to ship their items. Now, up to November 1st, we have ordered from labels, had the product delivered to us, and shipped on our own. One of my pet peeves is to get an order shipped from several locations. ClassicSelect has tried to avoid this - but as most of you know we have ended up shipping items in multiple shipments as the shipping logistics have broken down on numerous occasions, leaving you the customer and us, the business, in miserable situations.
This new supplier - essentially, if you can't beat them, join them - is the world's largest supplier of physical goods in the music world, and their stock levels surpass those even of the record labels. It should also remove our unseen by the customer attempts to find items from all over the world - which often takes weeks and can really be impossible to predict. While this might make sense, and your response might be, what took you so long, the fact is we started ClassicSelect with the idea that we would sell items inexpensively but we would also strive to obtain unusual items from all around the world. Given our recent stunning growth, we really have to do that much more sparingly, in the short term. And as we said, we believe our 25% discount is an essential part of our appeal and we have tried to retain that benefit for our customers.
We should also be able to broaden our selection to offer, both from major and independent labels.
We also are removing some items that have been slowing us down significantly. These items - custom-made items, or "build on demand" titles, normally very old titles from a label's back catalog - often take a week to manufacture and a week to ship to us. They are also fairly expensive. Unfortunately, many labels are opting for this choice to keep back catalog titles alive - when they sell one or two copies a year, this seems like a smart decision. This has even started to impact major labels - Sony's popular "White Label Budget Boxes" have started to be shifted into this category, and we are scrambling to understand exactly which items have been shifted - even our distributor has made the changes and not told us beforehand. And with labels shifting more and more to mega-boxed sets to keep recordings alive and in the catalog, smaller 2-4 CD sets are moving into this category. Many of our customers hate the "build on demand" CDRs, and many of us are actually completely unaware that a large portion of many catalogs use this method and don't let anyone know. It's slightly poorer than what is called "replication", that uses a standard pressing procedure, but honestly, many customers can't tell the difference (and we can't either). But we are going to try and keep these items off the site, as we said, because they slow the process down significantly, and as our customers have said, we definitely need to speed things up.
We just finished October 2018 and our business was up a staggering 245% over last year and 35% up over September 2018. That's a bit of a humble brag given our current shipping context, but also in terms of comparison - October is usually our 2nd slowest month of the year, after August. So again, we apologize for the slowness of our response, but we are making efforts to get back to speed quickly. As you know, all year we have tried to forecast our growth and every time, we grow faster. For that, we thank you sincerely.