Hello ,

Greetings from Yiwu, China

Happy Black Friday!

I'm still in Yiwu, although tomorrow I will fly to Vienna and then drive to Slovakia to catch up with our AWGifts venture in Trnava.
I'm pretty sure its blinking cold there .. here in China it's still warm and sunny. I can see blue sky..

Last week I was telling you about Jack Ma, local hero and inspirational guru, you can read about it here.
Nobody in China has the faintest idea what that means... Going pear-shaped. Even the Americans don't really get it. Us British we know what it means.. drink too much beer and do no exercise and things will go pear-shaped. The thing is your belly. Get down the gym, cut out the carbs and get back in shape.. fixing that pear-shape just takes a little graft and hard work. This concept applies not just to bellies but to life in general, all of life.

It's normal no? Things just have a tendency to deteriorate, gradually wear out, slow down, get corrupted.. and yet, and yet.. something in the human spirit (and not everybody has it, or has it all the time) fights that "going pear-shaped moment". Often times we are too close to the trees to see the woods and things have gone totally mega utterly pearshaped before we even realise it. We need a wake-up moment, perhaps a disaster to realise just how pear-shaped it's gone before we shape-up and take action.

This time last year in Yiwu it was hard to see across the street for smog.. there are mountains all round Yiwu, you never could see them. China had it's wake up moment about pollution and the one thing you can say about the Chinese is that they get STUFF done.

So here I am running around sorting stuff out in China. It's been a hugely successful year, we have shipped more containers than ever before (up 50%) in spite of unfavourable exchange rates and increased prices in China.
But despite all that extra stock, we still have many fast moving lines showing as out of stock on the website, it's frustrating and annoying but I wanted to try and explain why and what we are doing about it.
The system at AW works a bit like this: Using inspiration from you our customers, we (this is my job) find and develop new products.. these get shipped and sold. Then at HQ in UK the reorders for those products are placed by hardworking Amy, who fights daily with sales and projections to try and anticipate what to re-order and when. Supply lines are long, elastic and every now and again they break. A company goes bust, changes ownership or direction, local raw materials dry up, local tax systems change (happening in India now) there are endless ways in which disruption to a product supply can happen (more later on this). Our local agents are pretty good at managing many of these issues, but sometimes there are so many issues gradually piling up... it goes how shall I put it?.. yes you got it... Pear-shaped.
It's got a bit like that in China... there is a pile of re-orders on hold for various reasons - what to do?

Meanwhile in Sheffield at AW HQ.. another OMG. it's going PEAR-SHAPED! moment and not in a beer induced way. I'm not making excuses, honestly, we are mortified, but a perfect storm has put us almost a thousand orders behind schedule. That was our wake up and smell the coffee moment... OMG guys we have almost a THOUSAND orders in a tray. Needless to say, our plan to run shifts and employ more agency staff wasn't nearly enough to cope with the larger inflow of orders. Plus incoming containers, all got delayed and the bloody things came all at once taking staff off the shipping out jobs to the goods in jobs. Goods-in guys were having mental breakdowns, guys in goods-out stretched beyond reason.. management team running around like headless chickens, customers quite rightly giving us bad reviews... that was Monday.

So what do you do when life turns pear-shaped?

Take a step back. Make a list, divide that list between all the available people, divide it over time (in the morning do this, in the afternoon that), bite-sized tasks are easier. Make the hard choices, and take them head-on. Then make STUFF happen.

In China...
They took all the tut-tuts off the road overnight, and persuaded the owners to buy taxies. Made electric motorbikes much cheaper than diesel ones. Put ten thousand almost free bikes all over the city. Made a list of all the production processes in factories that cause pollution, and banned them, taxed them or restricted them to certain hours. These things, in particular, caused problems with our re-orders, making us re-think products, giving me lots of work, but heck I can see the mountains.

In Sheffield
We made the list, divided up the tasks, made some tough decisions. Unfortunately, stopped making some products to clear back orders for more important products. Sorry, no Chill pills for a while, they are too labour intensive to make, and moved every pair of hands to fix all those orders waiting for something in that huge pile. Tomas, Katka and Alan all getting in there, all the marketing team picking orders, packing orders and moving like the wind.
Yesterday (Thursday, they shipped the most products in a day out of AW in history).. still a way to go, but dear customer, please forgive us for going a bit pear-shaped.. we are doing our best and getting things sorted.

As Jack Ma.. said (in last weeks email)... "Never give up, today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine"

Hope the sun is shining for you. Hope Black Friday trading was awesome.. hope you can avoid anything shaped pear like :)

Have a great week

Black Friday! Great deals you can pass on to your customers - or simply give your profit margins a bit of a boost. If money (or credit) is tight then your customers will be happy to BOGOF - double your sales without losing money or compromising on quality.

Take a look at our range of amazing quality Church Candles made in Germany by a traditional family firm. Only the purest of ingredients are used to produce our wholesale Church Candles. Each candle has a classic Ivory design to give that traditional warm design to any room.

Selling particularly well around special occasions such as Christmas. Your customers love classic candles like this to create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere and with a range of colours to match any decor. A pack of 6 tied up with jute ribbon make a nice pick up gift.

There are many great uses for this range of candle holdersas they will bring a cosy and warm atmosphere to any room. Customers will definitely look to grab these for special events such as dinner parties, wedding tables, celebrations or even to bring some new style to their homes.

New Wholesale Hydroponic Home Decor Pots will beautify and purify any home, bedroom, kitchen, and office. You can plant small plants in those round laboratory tubes, set in iron and wooden industrial frames. Made of recycled metal, glass and wood they will be an amazing addition to any home, kitchen, bedroom or office.

Bamboo Baskets sometimes called bread baskets, made from bamboo strips or awn wood or a combination... A jolly useful thing they can be used for display purposes, for resale or for gift baskets. Restaurants and hotels might even use them for bread rolls.

Danish Christmas Pouches are made of jute and are very strong and sturdy. They are perfect for your customers to use as gift bags, stocking filler gifts, or to store their presents. Just put a stack of these Danish Christmas Pouches in your shop and it will be sure to boost your sales and with our great prices, will be sure to boost your profit margins to give your store an all-round festive spirit.

These handmade double butter soaps create a magnificently creamy, soothing lather which helps make your skin soft and moisturised. Moreover they are made of not only mixture of these awesome butters but they also carry blends of our top quality Essential Oils. Perfect for this winter.

Each wheat bagis filled with a mixture of wheat, lavender flowers and pure lavender essential oils. Cotton bags and natural rope handle and arty prints make a wonderful display and give that natural feel. Lavender is renowned for helping to relieve tension and pain so you can imagine how relaxing these are combined. An excellent and safe alternative to hot water bottles.

These oil burners have been finished with a decorative glaze to give that high standard finish. They will make a great gift idea for any special occasion due to the quality, material and value. Perfect for Christmas and burning Simmering Granules, Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils and also Wax Melts.

Fragrant Wax Melts in Jars are made from a natural blend of soy waxes and finest fragrance oils. Available in many mouthwatering fragrances. In every jar you will find 16 heart shaped wax melts, just pair them with Oil Burners as either an add on sale or a gift set or sell the jars individually. Stock a decent range to make good sales, Order now.

Our warehouse & offices are closed from Friday 22nd December 2017 - Monday 1st January 2018 inclusive. You can place orders, online or by phone for pre-Christmas delivery up to 12 midday on Thursday 21st December. We will do our best to despatch all orders for delivery on Friday 22nd December (UK Mainland Only).

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