Supplier lead times continue to be a pain point for merchants like FindTape.com LLC (ranked No. 1821 in the Next 1000). The online-only retailer sells to business-to-business and direct-to-consumer customers. FindTape.com sells adhesive tape for a variety of uses in homes and businesses. Kevin Mahoney, president and founder, says some items are out of stock for months at a time. This prompted the merchant to pull some name-brand items from its website. Supply chain delays continue for merchants like FindTape.com with some stock out for months at a time, prompting the merchant to pull some name-brand items from its website.
Scotch-brand blue painter’s tape has a three-month lead time, for example. Athletic and adhesive sprays are completely sold out, Mahoney says. He doesn’t expect these items to be available until summer 2023.
Supply chain disruptions continue
Several factors are affecting suppliers, Mahoney says. Prices for raw materials like aluminum increased and shortages making the alloy more difficult for vendors to procure, Mahoney says. His suppliers are telling him it’s difficult to find raw materials to manufacture. This includes the cans that contain athletic Mueller Stickum spray adhesive.
Prices are also on the rise for everyday products like adhesive tape. FindTape.com’s prices are up 40% to 60% for name-brand items like Duck Tape.
“That’s only a couple of dollars for customers buying one or two items, but it adds up for companies buying in bulk,” Mahoney says. “Customers are absorbing those costs in both cases.”
One of its suppliers for barricade tape used for police barriers has a three-month lead time to ship an order.
Mahoney says shopper still want name-brand products like 3M — if the item is in stock.
“Customers who buy 3M only switch to a different brand if something is completely out of stock or they need something quick,” he says.
The average order value (AOV) for B2B customers buying in bulk dropped from $240 to about $175 in 2020, Mahoney says. In 2021, that number inched closer to $200 and is closer to $220 in 2022. Mahoney declined to share consumer AOV but noted it’s a growing part of FindTape.com’s business.
More than half of FindTape.com’s web sales are from marketplaces
Since COVID-19, FindTape.com’s Mahoney says the merchant has been selling more on marketplaces. About 55% of its web sales are from marketplaces. A sizable portion of its business is from customers in the hospitality and entertainment industries. When COVID-19 closed those sectors down, sales followed suit.
“Neither industry has fully recovered to pre-COVID levels,” Mahoney says.
In 2021, 59.2% of Next 1000 merchants sold their goods on an online marketplace, up from 55.7% of merchants in 2020. Marketplaces, including Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc., and Walmart Marketplace, allow merchants to sell their products to an expansive audience. The 2022 Next 1000 includes online retailers that generated annual ecommerce revenue between roughly $1 million and just over $39 million in 2021.
The volume of orders FindTape.com receives from each marketplace varies, Mahoney says.
“Order volume from Amazon is 12 times greater than Walmart’s [marketplace], which is our second-largest marketplace,” Mahoney says.
It’s difficult for smaller retailers to compete on price with other sellers on Amazon, Mahoney says. FindTape.com sells 3M basic command products on the marketplace and is still being undercut by some other Amazon sellers, he says, even though the online retailer has negotiated, lower pricing with the manufacturer.
Amazon fees and inventory system changes present challenges
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) fees have increased several times over the last year, Mahoney says. FBA is Amazon’s program that allows merchants to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon, Amazon announced a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge in April 2022.
It has also been difficult for FindTape.com to keep up with Amazon’s inventory system changes. Such changes include how Amazon lists a product name and its description. That can result in mismatched items and descriptions — a customer thinks they are buying one quantity but receives something different or a different quantity, a potentially costly mix up.
Recently, Amazon delisted FindTape.com’s Gorilla-brand inventory in the United Kingdom and European Union because the EU changed its packaging requirements.
“As a result, Gorilla had to create specific EU packaging to [comply],” Mahoney says. “It would have been nice to have been given a heads up [by Amazon] to first be allowed to sell off all the existing inventory we had paid to import and store there.”
This is an excerpt from the 2022 Next 1000 Report. The report can be downloaded now as a PDF for $499. Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum Members receive a complimentary copy of this report as a part of their membership.
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