Due to the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, we are experiencing longer than normal lead times on certain products. We encourage back-ordering out-of-stock items to receive them as soon as possible.
Unless you were under an internet rock you may have noticed that we reanimated Free Day a couple weeks ago. Despite a few hiccups, this Free Day iteration went better than any previous one, at least from a logistical perspective. We found some more weaknesses in our internal systems that we'd like to shore up, as well as a few planning errors we can fix to make things even smoother in future years. Let's get in to the numbers!
A few random stats:
Below we have a chart that shows the distribution of orders made throughout the day. While a vast majority of people (1192) only bought one $0.01 board, there were several others who managed to snag more than one. One customer even managed to grab 49, with the assistance of a script. Overall, 392 customers got more than one $0.01 board. While it wasn't our intention for any one person to get more than a few $0.01 SKUs, it's always interesting to see how our customers create ways to give themselves a leg up on Free Day.
Next we have a chart showing the distribution of how many people bought a $0.01 based on when they became a SparkFun customer. We have seven very loyal people who participated in Almost Free Day this year, with SparkFun histories dating back to when we started keeping records in 2006. Thank you 2006ers! As expected, more and more participants came from the past few years. Free Day also brought a lot of new people into the SparkFun fold, as 36 percent of customers who bought $0.01 boards were new.
What did we learn, and what do we want to improve? Well, several things. One of our biggest headaches was combining customer orders. This is currently done manually by our customer service team, and with 392 people making multiple orders this was a huge challenge for them. They finished the job in record time and, along with our shipping department, we cleared the backlog of orders in under three days. Going forward we will further try to limit the ability of people making multiple orders, especially with scripts. We will be looking into implementing a "one SKU per customer" tool that we have not yet developed. Finally, while we had the least amount of down time of any Free Day yet by far, we'll still look to improve our web site's ability to handle a few thousand people clicking on it in the same second. At least the servers didn't catch on fire...
Finally, some thank yous. Almost Free Day is a full-company event. From the engineers who designed the products; to the purchasing team that bought the parts; to the production team who built them; to the marketing team who let you know it was happening; to SWIT, who kept the website going; to tech support and customer service, who processed every order; and packaging and shipping who got the orders out, this day creates a challenge for every person at SparkFun
Last but definitely not least, we'd like to give a big thank you to all those who participated. We love spreading our insatiable desire to tinker and build, and are happy we could share this day with you! We'd like to hear your stories about Free Day in the comments below. Tell us what you got, what you'll make or what else you'd like to see on Free Day! Here's to future, even better Free-ish Days – cheers!