Insights from producing a gin book · 2: delivery services
When there is a chance that things can go wrong, they might actually go wrong. That's why you plan on having a plan B or even plan C in place. Well, sometimes you cannot have that plan established because there is no chance to do so. Welcome to the second article about the Gin & Notes notebook production and the state of delivery services in Germany in general. This will be a sad post.
A book made with love and dedication
For the last few weeks I have been busy getting things in line for the next gin notebook. It is so much fun to talk to people and get stuff done for it. Pretty much everyone is excited about it and so am I. Needless to say that I want it to be good. No, actuall more than good, I want it to be so nice and perfect that you want the next one and the next and the next one after that. This is not about making money, because there is not much in this I must admit. I opted for such high quality when it comes to the production that it pretty much covers all the costs and some free ones to give away. But I never started this because I wanted to make money. It was a gift in the beginning and my clients got it as a thank you for the work we did together over the year(s).
So with that being said, it annoys me down to the bone, that there is so much crap (pardon my French) to deal with. My main problem is that I need time to do proper work. The bottles all deserve a proper photo shooting. I am not doing one quick shot, I am not getting press material from the distillers, I do everything myself. It is my book, my interpretation, my opinion about the products (except for some extras which I will not tell you just yet).
In order to deliver a high level of quality and many photos, posts, stories and videos which help me to tell the stories, I cannot wait until 2 days before the whole thing goes to print. It takes a few weeks of work, especially since I do this in my spare time.
Things that make you go mmmmmh, …
But this plan has been bombarded with bad things: The uttermost nightmare are the delivery services, DHL at the forefront. In theory a producer packs a bottle, sends it to me, it travels for 2–3 days, I get it and start shooting etc.
But here is the thing: Today is the 6th of October 2018. As of this writing I am still waiting for a registered packet / parcel from Finland. It was mailed 31 days ago. And no I am not talking about the Finland on Jupiter's moon Europa, I am talking of the country in Europe, two flight hours away. Aparently there are software problems. Just take a look at some of the tracking details:
And that is not the only one I have had trouble with. Out of ten deliveries only two worked out as you would hope the service to work. Two! That is a rate of 80 % failure (or at least not delivered as promised). And after someone finally took my complaints and started an investigation nothing ever happened again. Surprise.
A threat to businesses
Now I am just doing this for the first time. But for the next editions I will get a courier service to be a sponsor of the project. Because that might help in actually delivering on the service they are selling.
If you are a company dealing with online sales and have clients ordering on the web but not getting their things that is a problem. Companies loose their good reputation because of a third party not doing what was promised. And that is a major problem. No matter how good you are, how much time, blood, sweat, and tears you invest, how good is it if your efforts are thrown into the dust and kicked in the face by some organisation simply not caring.
The need to rethink logistics and working conditions
Online shopping is great. Personally I buy a lot of things online. I barely send stuff back so my return rate is at 5 % I guess. But As more and more of us are buying things online the courier and delivery companies cannot cope with the demand anymore. And because the shipping costs, "thanks" to Amazon, have been nominally reduced to zero more or less, there are more and more parcels being delivered.
I live in the second largest city in Germany, Hamburg, with close to two million people living here. That is a lot of parcels every day. You see the transport and delivery cars in every street.
- Too few people for too many shipments
- Delivery takes place when people are not home (but at work) most of the time
- Post offices are not ready for the many returns and pickups (staff numbers)
- The streets are clogged by and for the delivery cars
- Many people doing the delivery job are not qualified in my opinion (you should be able to speak German or English at least, you should be able to read, you need to understand your tools like the scanner etc.)
Until these problems do not get solved we will run into more and more trouble and more and more businesses will break down just because of this. It is time-consuming and expensive to deal with something which you have paid for already.
Maybe we need more distribution hubs? Every street corner has a trash can mounted to a street light pole these days. The street got cleaner due to that and more environmental awareness. So couldn't there be more of these packet lockers? delivery is fast, centralised in one go, unload once and no need to run to 30 flats with 27 not opening and the rest lives in the third floor and is "accidentally" forgotten. On your way home you pick up your parcel done.
There are some of these P.O. box style lockers (Packstation, Amazon locker) but they are often full and so you need to go and search your parcel in the neighbourhood, in some newsagent, hair salon, or who ever is crazy enough to host a pickup area within their shop these days.
It is a disaster. Things need to change. People need to be trained properly for the job (including language), they need to get proper payment, if a delivery company says it is reliable, it should at least try to deliver on the promise. We need to find ways to have deliveries stored near the destination (100 m max. distance) independent from neighbours or tobacco shops. We need to work on this together. Fast.
What about Gin & Notes now?
There is a delay. I hate that. It will cost me actuall money, because I need to pass on a few jobs in order to produce the book. So I am actually loosing business and money, thanks to the delays. That sucks. Especially as it is not my fault. However, I am totally willing to do that because I think people deserve the best notebook possible to be produced. We will get that parcel from Finland over here, the last three parcels will be here soon, I hope. No I am convinced. 80 % cannot be the final number. It is just too weird. Too sad.
As you might have guessed it I am annoyed. I am frustrated, and there is not much I feel I can do about it except for planning with 6 weeks more time for Volume 3. Or 8 weeks. How ridiculous, but that's what it's going to be I guess. However, we will get this done ad if the books don't get lost on their way from the print house to the GinGinGin offices or on the way to you I hope to see you doodling or scribbling in a Gin & Notes very soon.
Remeber to follow @ginnotesbook on Instagram for coupons and a chance to win stuff as well.