As we get closer and closer to being able to ship our new Vertical Dock, we've been getting a lot of questions about our timelines. Mostly, people just want to know when they're going to get their dock - which is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, the answer isn't always simple. So, the purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on our design process, preorders, manufacturing process, and order fulfillment.
For starters, let's take a high level look at the design process. Everything starts with an idea, followed by a lot of drawing, and then proof of concept research. Then we take that research to our manufacturing partners to get a feel for how long it's going to take to start production. We spend a lot of time making sure that our products are going to meet or exceed our customers' expectations. Once we have a solid manufacturing plan in place, we start taking preorders. Collecting preorders allows us to get more product into more customers’ hands in less time. The capital generated from preorders allows us to scale up our component purchasing and supply chain capacity to meet demand a lot faster.
By placing a preorder for a new product, our customers are reserving their place in line to receive a unit from the earliest production batches. Our initial manufacturing quantities for new products are limited and preordering allows customers to get their orders weeks, or even months, before the general public. It's important to note that preorders are always fully refundable at any point before shipment. If you’re not happy with the process for any reason we want to give you a refund. Just contact our customer support, they will take care of you.
So, at this point, we've got a solid proof of concept, we're taking preorders, and our product team is working hard to build out a project schedule that includes everything that goes into manufacturing, testing, packaging, and shipping. We work with several different manufacturing partners and suppliers to achieve these goals. Managing projects that span multiple vendors across multiple countries can be tricky when you're trying to nail down specific milestone dates. When issues come up and those milestone dates have to get pushed out, it creates a ripple effect on the rest of the project timeline. For example, when our manufacturer in China tells us that there is going to be a two day delay, that moves the rest of the timeline ahead by two days - which then puts packaging milestones in the middle of a holiday - which then turns into a week long delay.
Fortunately, our product team has a lot of practice working with these vendors. They work every day to try and keep our actual ship dates in line with the expectations we've set with customers. However, the ship dates that we provide for preorder products are representative of the current best-case timeline built with our manufacturing partners and suppliers. This means that despite our best efforts to keep things on schedule the actual ship dates can, and frequently do, get pushed back due to unforeseen issues ramping up to manufacturing.
But it's more than just vendor/time management. We work hard to get our customers a product that we can stand behind. That requires close attention to quality standards at every step. We will always choose to fix an issue and rather than shipping a product that’s “close enough”, even when it means incurring a delay. It's not perfectionism, it’s the right thing to do. Delays are temporary, products shipped with problems are forever.
Once we have established a viable path to production, our timelines become a little less variable. And as we start getting units to our warehouse where we can manage and predict inventory levels, we start to have very reliable shipping information. As we get initial shipments from our manufacturer, we ship out preorders in the order they were received. We keep up to date information on our shipping schedules here http://bit.ly/hdpre.