Since the 17.06 Slate in 2019 - I find myself penning one of these posts after nearly each launch. Sometimes they never get published as there is not much new for us to add, but after spending a few hours tonight reading e-mails, DMs and messages, I figure: better too much said, than not enough.
Warning: long read ahead
Firstly, thank you to everyone who supported the MING 17.09 - that includes those who were unable to secure a watch. We know it's frustrating not to be able to get one, and we certainly do not take the interest in our watches for granted.
Going into this launch we knew Batches 1 & 2 would be quick as we had to fix production volumes for this year's delivery in April last year - before the pandemic shut down the world, before 27.01, 27.02 and H41. By January of this year, we knew 450x 17.09s in total would be insufficient but there was no more capacity available from some of our component suppliers. This lead to the decision to offer another final batch on a longer delivery basis; in practice no different to opening a second batch later and accepting every request to allow a reservation.
Fast forward to tonight - we were still surprised by how quick the watches went (under a minute) but even more surprised by the sheer magnitude of frustration thrown at us. We appreciate this and continually try to improve our approach/ systems/ processes with every launch.
To the few people who don't understand the difference between criticism and abuse and as we said last year after Sandra's resignation, we will no longer tolerate abuse: these messages will be ignored.
To everyone else, we'd like to address some of the more common constructive feedback directly here:
- Issues with pages going live: We use Shopify at this time for our website and automate product pages to go live. But the nature of the Internet is such that it's genuinely impossible for everyone's computer around the world to show the page as live and ready to go exactly at 1:00:00:00 GMT. Is it possible some people saw the page live seconds before others? Yes. But if we could control servers, ISPs and timing to that level, we wouldn't be in the watch business.
- Cart holds: We've clarified numerous times that cart holds are impossible under our current system. Checkouts can time out right up until payment is complete because of this. This isn't right but it requires a completely custom e-commerce solution to be developed, which started months ago; the back end is very complex and we aren't going to deploy it til we're 100% sure it's ready (I'm sure you'll agree that getting it wrong would be worse).
- Payment approvals: We have no control over your bank, your credit rating, or whether a payment is approved or not. Our payment gateway partner is Fiserv, a leading payment solutions provider and Fortune 500 company. It's definitely not a case of using a substandard service provider.
- Payment options: We refuse to use PayPal as their charges, T&C and customer service are terrible and would result in significant price increases to the customer - for no additional value. We are working on offering other payment methods in the future, but this is dependent on those options being available in our country.
- Bots/ scalpers: Sarah and I have spent the last 6 hours manually reconciling each order from tonight to check for suspicious behaviour, potential flippers or bots. Is our system foolproof? No, but we continue to refine it and the new e-commerce back end will include further countermeasures against this.
- Intentional hype: Plenty of individuals have accused of artificially restricting supply as a form of marketing. Honestly - that's ludicrous. We have nothing to gain from not selling watches or irritating potential customers. I'm not sure how we can prove this more clearly than the time limited order window on 16 April: We will accept and honour as many orders as our system can handle in ten minutes.
Speaking of the time limited batch, we have received two valid queries about potential scenarios:
- Website crashes due to traffic: While we do have dynamic bandwidth allocation on both the website and payment processing end, the reality is there is risk of the website crashing due to traffic. We have no prior data from a time limited batch on which to prepare, so there is an element of guess work involved. In addition, both Shopify and our Fiserv use standardised queueing systems to manage bandwidth and access, so slower load times will be experienced. There is again no reasonable solution to this, at this time.
- Extended delivery times due to a large number of orders. We have worked closely with Schwarz Etienne and our other partners to be prepared for a batch as small as a few hundred up to five figures. We remain confident in our ability to deliver watches regardless of the volume. However, I must stress that NOT ALL watches from this batch will be delivered in March 2022. We will only begin in March 2022 and will continue to deliver in batches until all orders are fulfilled. At this time, we are aiming to complete all deliveries by the end of 2022 (but always as early as possible) and barring some seriously high order numbers, we remain on track to do so.
That being said, I do expect the time limited order batch to also have hiccups given this is the first time. On behalf of the team, I can only repeat that we do pay attention to everything and are always looking at solutions, it just takes time to put them into effect. There are simply limits to how quickly a small company can adapt and scale with this number of moving pieces.
Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to continue making interesting watches and if you are unable to order a 17.09 tomorrow, we have plenty more models in the pipeline for this year and next...
Published: April 2021