Recently, I was asked to supply four, yes four, bolts for a prospective customer. Now, true, they were LARGE bolts. Three quarter by nine inches long with a nut and a washer but still…..four. Because it was a prospect that was sent to me by a friend and they also had the potential of being a future customer more in line with type that we have serviced for over 25 years, bulk buyers, I quoted. No surprise I didn’t get the order because they didn’t realize the cost of only buying four bolts at a time but, there is a reason why those who buy in bulk receive such great discounts.
Bulk. If buying in bulk wasn’t an industry unto itself, there would be no reason for the Walmart’s, Costco’s and Sam Clubs. Problem is, the Walmart’s, Costco’s and Sam Clubs have been around so long that there are a lot of people who don’t remember when they didn’t exist. They don’t know that when this Big Box type of storefront came along, those that started to patronize them were willing to sacrifice service and sometimes quality, which up til then was the best thing that a company/store could offer it’s customers, for price. But at that time, people knew what they were getting and what they were giving up. They knew that to get lower prices they were going to have to look for items themselves and otherwise sacrifice service that the company/store would normally pay product knowledgeable employees who would assist them with their purchases and make their shopping experience much more enjoyable. For a short period of time, consumers had a choice. Service or price.
Now, twenty years later, those days are hazy. The concept that companies would save on expenses by employing fewer people and allowing the consumers would do the labor that otherwise long term employees would do for them in order to pass the savings on to customers is long forgotten. Younger customers don’t understand why they cant get the same 10% above cost discounts that Big Box offer and still get the quality service that higher priced products provide. That there are business costs involved in hiring and training employees and sales personnel and unfortunately, those costs always are passed down to the consumer if the company is to remain solvent and healthy.
Needlepoint Zip Screws
When I first started in the fastener industry in the early 80’s, selling self-tapping zip screws and tek screws, there were three very clear layers of distribution. Importers, who brought the product from overseas who sold to Distributors who repacked the product into 200 pound kegs or 50 pound cases and sold to Contractors and Hardware Stores who sold 4 bolts. In order to sell four bolts, they have to pass through three shipping departments (including freight charges) and billing departments in order to get to the consumer. But when you buy in bulk, 50 pound cases or more, those shipping and billing costs are distributed and shared throughout maybe 20,000 screws and not just 4.
There is a good reason why four bolts are so expensive.
There is value in buying in bulk.