14/04/20 - Coronavirus Update - Order Invitations
Frequently Asked Questions
During these trying times we know that many of our customers will have questions. We've collated the most common together in a handy Frequently Asked Questions page so that everyone can benefit from our answers.
Due to the pandemic, we've had to implement an Invitation system where we send invitations to customers that will allow them to checkout on the website. Invitations to order are extremely limited and currently being reserved for Care customers who are looking after the frail and elderly/Nurseries with Key Worker children attending.
Received An Order Invitation?
Please Log in to place your order. Our handy Forgotten Password tool will help you get back online if you're struggling.
If you usually order over the phone, please forward your invitation to firstname.lastname@example.org with your postcode or account number - We will register you online and you will receive an Email with your Log in details.
Working hard to keep you supplied, the short version
Sadly, our stocks are not unlimited and we are doing all that we can to secure more supplies from wherever we can. We really appreciate the difficulties that you have keeping people safe and will do everything we can to keep stock moving fairly for our existing regular customers.
Working hard to keep you supplied, the long version
Flattening the curve
The Coronavirus has brought many challenges to all of us and we wanted to give you more information on how we can support you going forwards.
In early March, our sales doubled and then two weeks later doubled again. It became quite clear that this could not continue. What was 10+ weeks of stock in our warehouse reduced to one or two almost overnight. Our staff were on their knees and something had to change.
In a hurry we introduced an "Invitation to order" system and hand on heart we did not get it perfect. Some of you, for very good reasons had account setups that we did not allow for and you did not receive an invitation. It also became clear that a lot of email addresses were not being monitored nor messages passed on.
Two weeks into the pass system, we have knocked out most of the gremlins and got many of you on line and ordering on the web. This is important because with our high volumes and reduced staff through self isolation, we are to be blunt, struggling to provide the wow service that we like to give.
Stocks are limited and in some cases we are unsure when we will get new deliveries. We have put max quantities on the web for products that are in shortest supply to make sure that as many loyal current customers as possible get some. We hate it and it really is not good enough, but we know we have few other options.
Take for example alcohol gel. We stuck our necks out early and ordered 50,000 bottles. In normal circumstances that would be many years of stock. It sold in less than a week, even when we had a restriction on the quantity that each customer could buy and we cancelled the 12 orders that the same customer placed on the same day. We ordered even more as early as we dared, but now all production has been taken by the UK Government.
The saving grace is that China is beginning to ship some containers, having been effectively closed since 30th January (2 months). The bad news is that they take 4+ weeks to arrive and some containers have not left quite yet.
Sadly, we have had to review our prices on an almost weekly basis. There have been opportunities to buy products, but everyone knows there is a shortage and if we do not pay more we would be out of the frame. Face masks have gone up 20x and we have declined to join the fray. Chinese vinyl glove factories, not surprisingly, are making up for the 2 months that they were shut. +50% to +150% is not uncommon "If you want your order in April Mr Joe" they say, and to add insult to injury the British pound devalued by around 12% at the end of March. That immediately adds 12% to all buy prices. There is no magic, we price as close to the bone as we can, but that does mean we have no fat like our competitors to cover rises as big as these. What you will never see from Gompels is across the board price rises and you will always see prices come down as well as go up.
Thank you to all those customers who have paid their credit accounts on time. We need to make sure we have the firepower to stick our necks out and secure more stock for you in these difficult times.
Early on in the crisis, we made the decision to not take orders from new customers. You have been good enough to order from us over the last year or two and we felt that it was time to repay that loyalty. This is not about a quick buck. Lives are at risk and we need to look to the long term. At the end of March we started prioritising existing Social Care / Key worker nursery customers. We will issue the invitations as often as we can and with as high a value as we can. When we feel able, we will include other groups of customers. We have not forgotten that together you have made us what we are. Morally at the moment we need to make the real tough decision to prioritise care.
Adapting to the new normal takes time and we are striving to give you the products that you need and the service that you deserve. Please bear with us, the staff that we have left are working incredibly hard to get our stocks back up in very difficult circumstances.