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Drop-shipping is where a retailer accepts a customer order then relies on the supplier/distributer to deliver the goods direct to the customer. Typically the supplier/distributor is also relied upon to service the customer should a collection be required. Essentially the retailer has outsourced their operation, they have made a supplier responsible for delivery and for much of their after-sales service. It does sometimes make sense to drop-ship large/heavy items and we do it ourselves where appropriate but the steady rise in retailers who choose to drop-ship the majority of their products is alarming.

At FLO we believe holding, delivering and collecting stock are core competencies that should not be outsourced so we have two units on a business park full of stock and have invested in staff to manage it. It might surprise you to know we 'never' drop-ship Celestron products. All Celestron orders are processed and dispatched from one of our units here in Exeter. This is true of almost everything we sell.

One notable exception is Skywatcher because experience has shown some large telescopes (particularly Dobsonians) and mounts don't travel well so drop-shipping them direct to customers reduces the risk of damage in transit. We might also drop-ship a Skywatcher product if we are out of stock because it reduces the customer wait time by a day or two. And, credit where due, Skywatcher's UK importer/distributer are rather good at fast efficient deliveries. Even so, we do hold stock of Skywatcher products and over 70% of orders for Skywatcher products are shipped to the customer from one of our units. In particular we try always to hold stock of the more popular products and models that are often unavailable (we draw from our own stock while the suppiler imports more). The new Skywatcher AZ EQ6-GT mount is a good recent example, we hold several in stock because it is often in short supply and we like being able to offer the firmware upgrade prior to dispatch.

And, without stock a retailer cannot offer you a complete after-sales service. Nearly every week we collect/replace/refund something that the supplier would not consider a warranty repair and if you need a part we will often take it from a stock item so you can be up and running asap rather than ask you to wait for the importer/distributor.

No system is perfect and ours is under constant review but we are not one of those retailers trading from home popping widgets in jiffy bags and relying on importers/distributors to handle everything else. So, when next someone posts saying it doesn't matter where you place your order because all retailers drop-ship, you know it isn't true. It does matter.

Thank-you for reading this.

Steve :smiley:

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I have just received my latest order from FLO - Celestron CG5 polarscope. Ordered over the weekend - packed yesterday and delivered first thing this morning.

NOT all retailers are the same. FLO has always provided excellent service and advise to me - even foregoing a sale by telling me that I didn't actually need a certain part and that I could easily make one and save myself the money. That really shows they have their customers interests at heart. It restores your faith in business in this country.

Please pass on my thanks again to your staff Steve, your company is one to be admired and emulated. :grin:

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From one retailer to another:

FLO, I take my hat off to your business model, your ethos, and your service. How you manage to maintain competitive prices with so many overheads is beyond me. It is reassuring to purchase large and expensive items from a Company that actually invests in stock, staff and premises, as opposed to some dealer with no more investment than a computer and a website. It is easy to see that you mean business, and that gives me the confidence to do business with you :)

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Steve,

it's your quality of service that keeps me coming back, time after time - if there's a choice, you guys get the order...

Your service has always been exemplary, and even when there have been difficulties, you've resolved them to my satisfaction, rather than simply declaring the issue resolved when you feel like it, as others sometimes do.

Thank you to all at FLO

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and, if you're local, flo are very good at letting you pop over and pick stuff up yourself.

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Over the years I have used numerous astro retailers. Enquires and orders have been by web, phone and personal visit.

Service before & after, price and ease of doing business have obviously differed between retailers, and with time.

My experiences have led me gradually to the situation where any new enquiry goes to FLO first.

I see reasonable pricing, honest answers to questions, prompt delivery of stock items, well packed parcels and easy communication.

If FLO can't supply for some reason, then I will look elsewhere.

I'm not saying that FLO are the only people to offer all of this. But they have yet to let me down.

So I don't take risks with new suppliers.

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......& don't forget the excellent comms via SGL that FLO support us all with.

When I first got into astro several years ago, it was the seemingly unbiased advice & comments from FLO that I read on this site that added to my decision to purchase items from FLO.

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Another +1 for FLO from me. Always happy to answer my daft questions and post me the stuff I order promptly.

Have only ever received great service.

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I think just the regular presence and the positive attitude of FLO on this forum alone gives the customer a significant level of confidence in the competance of the supplier.

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Since joining SGL I look to FLO first. Not had many orders but each has been handled perfectly so far. With this in mind you can expect an order for a Skywatcher item or two in the next month or so cos' I'm heading for the dark side :evil7:

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no complaints from me, my emails are answered promptly (even for the stupid questions) and the goods are delivered very quickly. No system is perfect and occasionally it goes wrong but any problems are quickly sorted :)

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Good to know, FLO, and the part about your service certainly holds true for me. Always had a great and quick response, and it's always appreciated!

Posted via Tapatalk on an ageing iPhone so please excuse any erroneous spellings or accidental profanities!

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Amen to all the comments above :) I have always found FLO to be excellent in all respects. I ask a question and I get a reply within hours not next day. Most items are received next day as long as I order early enough in the day to give time for packing etc. And I too always go to FLO first and only if they haven't got it in stock do I try elsewhere. I know I can rely on FLO for the very best service and price :)

May I too send my thanks to you Steve, Martin, James and all your staff :) TBH I don't think I have ever received better service from a company. Carry on the great work and and to quote a well known Sci-Fi series "Live long and prosper" :):icon_salut: :icon_salut: :icon_salut: :icon_salut:

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It interesting to see how different company's deal with stock, some heavily dropship, which can work if you have rock soild suppliers, others always have stock in hand.

The supplier is the key issue here, personally with my main lines i'm of the school of "its on the shelf" but I have started stocking in and making available for sale stock which is due to arrive in the next 24 hours, its not perfect yet as my supplier is not quiet up to speed. but its getting better.

We have started a 100% dropship experiment for a few product ranges, which had terrible teething problems, but they did get resolved and its working ok now. (do wish i was listened to from the get go though as it was all foreseeable and easily sorted before going live....)

Having purchased a fair few Sky-Watcher scopes from various retailers which have been drop shipped I have never had any issues, which does say OVL have it sorted, which is how it should be for an exclusive distributor.

On the other hand when it goes wrong it can be a pain and extra steps in communication can lead to frustration, its a fine balancing act of maintaining customer expectations , communication and delivery.

Regarding FLO, I have always had a good service, (drop shipped, back ordered and in stock next day delivery) even when things have not gone quiet to plan, its all been sorted in the end, which imo is the sign of a good retailer, I do see things from a retailers perspective and understand all the problems and its always interesting to see how people do things.

Edited by Earl

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On ‎09‎/‎04‎/‎2013 at 10:45, FLO said:

At FLO we believe holding, delivering and collecting stock are core competencies that should not be outsourced so we have two units on a business park full of stock and have invested in staff to manage it. It might surprise you to know we 'never' drop-ship Celestron products. All Celestron orders are processed and dispatched from one of our units here in Exeter. This is true of almost everything we sell.

Any chance of a response to my mails regarding an order from 13th July that is still "in processing" ?

All it takes is a mail to say "We're sorting it out" and a estimate of the dispatch date.

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Yes, of course, but I don't know who you are ScubaMike and I am not aware of any unanswered emails.

If you PM me more info I will happily investigate :smile: 

HTH, 

Steve 

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I think I have found you :smile: 

We have one outstanding order from 13th July for a Mike in South Yorkshire.  At our website the Borg adapter shows 'Delivery 10-15 working days' and this is day seven so I am guessing it will be with you soon, I will know more when we reopen Monday.  I cannot find any emails from you, are you using a different email address to the one used when you placed your order? 

Steve

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Mike, I am guessing you logged out after you posted your message. It's Friday night and I might not see your response if you post it over the weekend. When we reopen Monday I will check your order is progressing normally then will update you via email and via PM here at SGL. 

HTH, 

Steve 

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7 hours ago, FLO said:

Mike, I am guessing you logged out after you posted your message. It's Friday night and I might not see your response if you post it over the weekend. When we reopen Monday I will check your order is progressing normally then will update you via email and via PM here at SGL. 

HTH, 

Steve 

Hi Steve,

Yes, you found me.  I had logged out (it's been a long week).
I have to admit I didn't see the lead time, but happy to know that it's all in hand.

 

(one mail was from my work address, and one from my personal, that may have screwed up the system).

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