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Thomas Nelson Product Still Slow to Arrive in Canada

In Canada, Zondervan product is ordered through HarperCollins Canada. The system works well for bestsellers; an item ordered by 4:25 PM on Wednesday arrives in my store as early as 11:30 AM Friday, with free freight. But there are three little words that are, by all accounts, frustrating for many dealers: “Import to order.”  This means the item isn’t carried in Harper’s Canadian warehouse and you’re looking at an average of 3.5 weeks’ delay.

Zonder NelsonNow, with the addition of Thomas Nelson product to the mix, it seems that more dealers are getting more frustrated over more product delays.

When you place an order, sometimes it’s good to engage in some light conversation with order entry personnel, because you find out little tidbits about why the system seems to move so slowly on important items.

First, one Harper staff member told me that they only receive Zondervan product every two weeks. I checked around, and that’s different than, for example, David C. Cook Canada where product arrives weekly from suppliers such as Holman and Baker Books.

Second, Harper’s criteria for ITO status is the title must sell 30 units monthly to be stocked. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you consider the sheer number of Thomas Nelson titles, it means a greater number of titles are in ITO status, whereas with direct shipments from Nelson’s former warehouse, you got everything that was in print.  Furthermore, is it 30 days the previous month? A 90 day average? Updated monthly or quarterly?  it also isn’t known if this is a system-wide policy or if it just applies to Nelson/Zondervan titles.

Third, there is the constant mystery of product which is designated ITO but doesn’t ship. Is it awaiting reprint? Out of stock indefinitely? About to declared out of print? Nobody likes to be the customer pestering order entry staff for these types of answers, but dealers are often caught in the middle between the supplier and an impatient customer.

So what would you do if you were running HarperCollins? The warehouse is huge; there is definitely capacity to carry more items. Even a half dozen of some secondary titles, and 2s and 3s of tertiary titles might mean that fewer bookstores would be kept waiting. The company could easily implement something like this if it felt that religious books constituted a priority.

What about your other suppliers? How are you affected by backorder rates?

  1. August 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    seems like they don’t care too much about truly providing the whole list of various publishers. We can not serve our customers very well by using their services for other than best sellers and the actual items they stock, but that is sure hard to determine.

  2. August 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for writing, Lando.

    The other problem at this time of year is that there’s no way of knowing if the system is dynamic, flexible or intuitive vis-a-vis the small group DVDs and participant’s guides we all need heading into the fall. The one order I had today was ITO product. Frustrating.

  3. September 20, 2013 at 6:27 am

    ITO really frustrating, especially when you are trying to serve your customers as best you can and keep them from ordering on line.

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