IT Update


Today we have a guest post from our own Dave Stillman (he of product post video fame). Take it away, Dave!

Why hello, it's Dave from IT here. As you may know, SparkFun tries to keep a lot of stuff in-house. This ranges from engineering to production, and from design down to my job in IT. Here in IT we not only keep the web site up and running (most of the time...) but also write the software that runs SparkFun as a business. From the time an order is placed to when your red box goes out the door, there is a pretty complex system in place to keep track of orders, product builds, purchasing and everything else that keep us running.

Most of the stuff we in IT make is only visible to people who work here, but now that it's been a while since the Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned In IT's Presence, we thought it would be a good time to show you some of the stuff we've been working on that might affect you!

UPS

The biggest change over the past couple months is most certainly the addition of UPS. A few weeks ago we silently released the option to choose UPS as a shipping option when you check out. It's the same red box you know and love, but now delivered by a person wearing brown! Hopefully this new offering will give you the best shipping options, including more speedy deliveries as well as improved international options.

Wish Lists

Caution: Nerd Talk Ahead:

We've now got nearly 15,000 Wish Lists after rolling them out earlier this year. We've made a lot of subtle improvements based on your feedback, and one of the features we're playing with is Embeddable Wish Lists. Try throwing ".js" on the end of your wish list URL and putting it in a script tag on your web site! We'll be putting some polish on this feature and will have links and sample code on your Wish List page soon.

Lots of Tweaks

The keenest SparkFun customer might have noticed that we're always shuffling bits around the web site. Besides adding more Easter Eggs, we've been also adding more options for sorting products based on things like popularity, recent sales and even more to come. We're trying to make it easier for you to find exactly what it is you're looking for! We've also put more work into making the shopping experience as simple and straightforward as possible.

There's plenty more coming soon! I'm most excited to be working on the [REDACTED] that's launching in a few months, and the [REDACTED] that Ben's been putting the polish on looks really slick and I know you're going to love it.

We're working hard behind the scenes to keep SparkFun running. Thanks for reading, and I hope you take your suggestions to our public IRC channel where one of us is usually idling. We'd love to hear from you!


Comments 61 comments

  • Although I have not ordered from sparkfun I have had nothing but problems with UPS… Mainly being their broker fees when crossing the border. For instance a $60.00 part after the UPS broker fee cost me $155.00. I could have purchased the part locally for $80.00 and had it the same day.
    As for ordering, I will go out of my way to “not” use UPS and if its the only option will go elsewhere. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk (probably am anyway) but dealing with UPS is like playing Russian Roulette with your wallet, especially if you have to order from outside of the USA. I would hate to see what the fee’s would be like crossing the seas.
    BUT… for everything else “Sparkfun” keep up the good work. :)

      • That’s Priceless, love it.

        • LIKE!
          I third (fourth? fifth?) the dislike of using UPS when ordering things from the US (another Canadian here). USPS or FedEx are the way to go.

          • As another Canadian I sixth it !
            For me, outrageous UPS brokerage fees are a dealbreaker.
            The UPS fees from US to Canada are somewhat hidden but can be found here and yes, they usually call you, just to collect their crazy “Invoice Integrity Fee” !
            For small stuff from the US, I use USPS, and for the bigger stuff, I use a forwarder such as Freeport Forwarding. Last time I used their service, it was for a 160lbs CNC router wooden crate and the cost for the forwarding service was only 10$ and shipment within the US also was cheaper.
            Adding UPS does not hurt for people in a hurry if money is no object, as long as you also keep USPS. Unless people plan on buying Gramps, forwarding is not really useful for Sparkfun stuff, I admit.

            • Another Canadian here voting to not use UPS because of their crazy brokerage fees.
              We’re not talking about duty fees here, we’re talking shipping cost + duty fees + brokerage fees (usually about 25-30$ in brokerage fees for a 5$ duty fee on a 25$ shipping cost for a 20$ item…). Yes, it’s that insane.
              So here’s another vote to keep the USPS option, even if you guys already mentioned that you’re keeping it.

              • FYI, here at Solarbotics.com, we carry a fairly large inventory of SparkFun inventory (Calgary, AB). Prices are pretty much par, and Canadian shipping ~ $8 for Western Canada, and ~$11 for Eastern.
                And if you do prefer to order from US, go UPS AIR, which will be less expensive than ground (with their huge clearance fees), and much quicker.

          • Thankfully, you all have a choice in which you can use! Rejoice if you like UPS, or don’t use them if you don’t. ‘Merica, the land of options.

      • I swear USPS does this to me too, only they also time their deliveries for Friday so that they pick up the signed-for slip to deliver two days later on Monday.

    • Agreed! It’s fine that SparkFun added the option of UPS, but rest assured I won’t be using them! Nor should anyone else not in the US.

  • Wow, I didn’t even notice the addition of UPS and I even placed a SparkFun order recently with them.
    I was expecting two packages, one SparkFun, and when UPS showed up without my red box, it didn’t take him long to look through the truck and find it. Those red boxes are handy!

  • UPS is awful to Canada! Their extra brokerage fees really bite!
    Digikey dumped UPS and went with FedEx, who is also faster but good old USPS works for me.

  • Frankly, I would like to see more Canadian suppliers offering your products so that we can circumvent this whole shipping issue. I would love to see more of your stuff in stores. I’m sure you’re working on that as well.
    edit: While we’re on the topic of wishlists, is it possible for the wishlist page to show if an item is in stock or not? It is kinda sad when you get excited dumping a wishlist into your cart, only to find one of the major items you wanted is out.
    Finally, are there any future plans for try to offer “free shipping for orders over $XXXX”?

  • I just want to know if SparkFun is going to carry the plutonium and flux capacitor needed for [REDACTED] to work?

    • If you get the [REDACTED] from [REDACTED] then you can reverse the flux-driven elements in the [REDACTED] which should give you something in the ~1.21GW range.

      • GREAT SCOTT!

        • !
          What’s all this [redacted] stuff?

          • This is a message from the future. I don’t have much time. I don’t have much time. They may find me soon. Years have passed, and I have seen the April Fool’s Day NEw Product Post. In it is a joke product called All-DoF. Repeat, All-DoF. It is the subject of The [REDACTED]s that you are wondering of. It was said to be everything in the past 5 years of SFE condensed into one board for $19.95. It was not. We prepared for a time where the board would make everything heavenly for us, but that did not happen. Now the world is nothing but a barren wasteland, estimates are only 5 million people live on this broken earth, and an evil kingdom of horrible people has formed. They will execute anyone who speaketh of their evildoings. I don’t have much time. Theyre jamming my connection. SFE Users, DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE ALL-DoF. DO NOT BELIEVE THE BROKEN PROMISES; OR YOU, TOO, WILL SOON SEE THIS DEAD HEAVEN. YOU WILL LIVE IN IT. YOU WILL DIE THERE, AS I WILL IN SO FEW HOURS. Oh no theyve found me! HELP! SOS! SOS! SOS!

          • x2 on [redacted] ??
            Another suggestion would be to somehow get notifications when a comment of yours has been replied to such as I’m doing here.
            AND/OR
            Be able to send private messages. I know there are the forums but they are completely unlinked with the usernames here right?
            I once saw a comment where the user stated they worked at the university I attend in my department so I replied but never heard from them because they were never notified of the reply and I had no way of sending a private message.

  • I see David was in the midst of looking up something about Easter eggs… Hmmm…

  • I love the idea of an embedded wish list. I imagine tutorial sites will be making wish lists of parts used in their tutorials. Also, [REDACTED] looks like a really awesome feature!

  • Funny thing is when I first read this post about IT implementing UPS it wasn’t shipping and logistics that first came to mind, Instead it was power. isn’t UPS that box that keeps the servers running when the local power goes out.

    • Oh, we have plenty of those UPSs as well, both in our building and at the datacenter. Not to mention redundant diesel generators…

  • I can’t speak for your domestic services, but as a regular Sparkfun customer in Australia I can’t speak highly enough of FedEx. I have had the misfortune of having packages sent from other companies in the US with UPS and EVERY time the manage to stuff it up. FedEx manages to get it right every single time, and I can’t see how it could be any faster (less than 3 days door-to-door).
    The best part is Sparkfun’s FedEx pricing. AMAZING!! About 2-3 times cheaper than FedEx’s standard pricing.
    So do whatever you want with UPS but PLEASE don’t mess around with your FedEx system. Thanks :)

  • it may just be me but UPS has been pretty good for me, but heck USPS was $5 so I chose that. but most of my orders are FedEx

  • I hope that [REDACTED] is a mobile site! Or an Android SFE app.
    And thanks for the new cheaper shipping options!

  • I for one am glad ups is now an option. I have had not one but two packages destroyed by my parents terrier. It’s no fun being on your hands and knees sifting through the grass in the backyard for capaciters and resistors…I basically “know” the ups guy so he sets the package in the front door and does not set it outside with no one home except the terrier that likes red boxes…

  • I happen to like UPS quite a bit (free shipping deals at newegg make it far superior to FedEx) and have had several packages delivered a day or more early. My only problem with UPS in recent memory was a small hole knocked into the box of a computer monitor (cosmetic damage to only the box).
    On the other hand, my most recent experience with FedEx-SmartPost (FedEx from business to local USPS post office for delivery) put a package on a truck somewhere in Texas and took over a month before it arrived back at its last departure point (not sure if what I actually received was the original or if a new one was shipped the day after I finally complained to shirt.woot).
    Of course it has been far too long to remember if it was UPS or FedEx that committed the great transgression against the glass top computer desk. Arrived home after school to see it sitting half in the garage/half in the driveway with more than half of the frame sticking out of the box. What was left of the cardboard box was held together with a bit of hastily applied packing tape.

  • ups… well, nice

  • I would like to say that ups sucks they never seem to want to ring my doorbell so I have never gotten a package on time.

  • stilldavid said “Read and heeded. The option is now available to use UPS, we’re not forcing you to use it or planning on taking away FedEx or USPS."
    That’s what we want! We choose the shipper. So many sellers on the Internet don’t.

  • does the USPS shipping comes in a box? or not?
    my first buy was this wish list http://sprkfn.com/w15585
    its a bot with wireless cam

  • KONAMI CODE EASTER EGG
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konami_Code

  • The only thing I like about UPS is this!
    I’ll bet that you won’t get angry when they put you on hold on the phone and having you listening to that song. :)

  • Wow…
    After reading all these comments, I would have thought that my little red box would have shown up half burned an still smoking. But, today I got home to find a beautiful red box just sitting there waiting for me. It showed up just fine and I used UPS. My wife signed for it and all is well, and I gotta tell you, the stuff inside the box is massively exciting. I have been looking forward to my crimper all week.
    I have had more issues with business(not SF) being completely lame in order fulfillment rather than the carrier itself.

  • What’s up with your background?

  • SFE, I hope you read/heed:
    As a paying customer, not a shipper, I say:
    For US domestic shipments, I HATE UPS. Slow, overpriced, and too-high error rate.
    For other than heavy parcels, I/we implore you to use less costly USPS.
    I can go on for quite a while about UPS screw-ups and their indifference.
    FEDEX has some agreement with USPS for items in bubble packs/envelopes. This is great.
    Let me close by being unambiguous: UPS is awful.

    • Read and heeded. The option is now available to use UPS, we’re not forcing you to use it or planning on taking away FedEx or USPS.
      We’ve seen UPS gain a lot of traction since we started offering it; it’s neck and neck with FedEx over the last week or so in terms of shipments. Of course USPS carries about as many parcels as both FedEx and UPS combined, and believe me we are taking this into account as we move forward trying to get the best service for you, our customers.
      Thanks for your input!

  • As a US based business, I am happy to see the UPS shipping options added. We like to use UPS and FedEx as much as possible since they seem to get it to us quickly and for a decent price. That doesn’t mean we don’t like to use USPS, but it just seems that when something goes missing with the USPS (even when insured), they just do not care. That is what you get when you let the government control anything.

  • Oh, no! Not UPS — Usurious Parcel Service! Their brokerage fees are atrocious. Mind you, up here in the Great Muddy North, FedEx is no great bargain, either. As long as the US Postal Service remains a shipping option, you’ve got my business.

  • Besides adding more Easter Eggs…
    Adding MORE Easter Eggs? You more there are currently some Easter Eggs on the site? Are you just saying that because Easter happens to be this week-end?
    Got any hints?

  • Hopefully you guys aren’t going to get rid of FedEx. UPS and USPS take several days to deliver SparkFun orders even though I’m only 4 hours away from you guys, while FedEx Ground usually only takes a day or two.

    • I live in Centennial and always get my SparkFun packages the day after they ship with USPS. I ordered one with fed-ex the other week because it needed insurance, and it shipped Friday and I did’t get it till Monday. YMMV

    • That depends on who is servicing your FedEx route. They have no incentive to deliver early, so if your package isn’t “due for delivery” and nothing else needs to go out they just sit on the package. FedEx also has a much smaller delivery network than UPS or USPS. I’ve seen them have to give the package to USPS for final delivery.
      The best part about this is that we can all choose what is best for our situation.

  • It might just be me, but http://irc.freenode.net/ isn’t working.

  • …one of the features we’re playing with it Embeddable Wish Lists" should be

    should be

    …one of the features we’re playing with is Embeddable Wish Lists". :)

    • wasn’t it just in the last post how they said that we (the sparkfun community) are also a bunch of Grammer Nazi’s? =) lol

      • *Nazis.
        Plural not ownership :P

        • You should know…
          “It’s Just I-T-S” by Strong Bad
          Ooohhhh, if you want-it to be possessive, it’s just “I-T-S”, but if it’s supposed to be a contraction, then it’s “I-T-apostrophe-S”. Scalawag.

    • I’m a programmer, not a writer :P Thanks for the heads up!

      • I have some books you might like on spelling.

        • Technically, he did spell “it” correctly.
          And for the record, I don’t think this (SparkFun) community is a bunch of “grammar Nazis”. We all just believe in making sure that things are correct, so as to not cause confusion. We’re also likely to speak out if we see something wrong.

  • Woow, love the wishlists … made 10+ already handy to find my tools and parts quickly!


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