How Disappearing Flavors Affect Your Orders
Why Isn't My Favorite Flavor In Stock?
As some of you might’ve seen already, some of even our staple flavors aren’t currently available. Depending on when you read this blog, it might be chicken, or pork, or multiple different flavors at once.
Are they discontinued? What’s going on?
For the TL;DR watch this video otherwise keep reading below!
Simply put, the supply chain is still all kinds of wonky, and looking to continue forwards into 2023. We’re creating many backend systems to compensate, as well as more front-end things, like swapping out flavor bundles according to what we can reasonably get.
At this point, we’d hoped that things would’ve stabilized, but materials are still being delayed again and again, and we’re holding onto stock of a ton of incomplete things.
One tough lesson we’re coming to terms with is simply that our ramen is incredibly complex. An Iphone 6 has about 34 primary components (Look, I know it’s outdated, but it’s the figure I could find quickly), while each Vite Ramen packet has, on average, 40.2 ingredients + packaging to manage, owing to our carefully crafted recipes and the sheer amount of additional nutrition we cram in.
Notably, because recipes are different, our total number of ingredients and packaging number over 150, since something like onion powder we can use across different recipes but, things like Sichuan Chili being unique to the Sichuan Chili Edition extends the amount of things we need to get.
Vegan Japanese Curry, by the way, currently holds the record for the most complex recipe with all its spices with a staggering 51.
But Wait! There's More!
We also have to do the usual sundries and cleaning supplies, like detergents, gloves, hair nets, paper towels, etc, etc.
...And then there’s things like boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and other supplies for fulfillment too.
Then stickers, chopsticks, Nanoboost, packaging materials...
All told, we’re looking at 250+ items to track and manage the supply chain for.
This also means that, if a single one of the ingredients in the 40 odd amount gets hit with a delay, like what’s going on with Garlic Pork Tonkotsu at the moment... the entire packet can’t be made.
This means, at the moment, while we’re doing our best with what we got to order ingredients ahead of time, we’ll have to be constantly cycling flavors in and out depending on what we can make.
Sometimes, the batches of material we get are also smaller than expected with an apology from our supplier, which... is why Sichuan was back for a very short amount of time and then gone again.
We’ve set aside orders for subscriptions, and are trying to push those orders out faster, but when it rains, it pours... Since there’s also an issue we’re encountering with the backend of the fulfillment system we’re using.
It’s still pushing back some orders for a very long time, and we’re trying to work out why, since it’s a third party program that we can’t look under the hood for. Extracting the order manually is surprisingly difficult and time-intensive, because the orders in the fulfillment program has a different ID than the order number in our shop, and has a date mark. The biggest issue there is that the delayed orders are also the ones that are somehow getting shuffled back into processing and being reassigned dates that push back the labels that are printed by the system, putting them into an endless loop.
We’re still working with the company to figure out what’s causing this, but meanwhile are beginning to deploy a very grueling manual process to find and free these orders, which can take as short as 15 minutes, or as long as one hour to get the order out of fulfillment system purgatory. Slowly but surely, we should be able to get these out... it’s just gonna take a lot of time.
Meanwhile, we’re deploying other countermeasures in backend systems in terms of how the API can find things and how SKUs can be organized, but these measures will only work moving forwards, rather than the ones currently stuck.
We’re doing everything that we can on the supply chain and fulfillment side, but at the end of the day, we’re still at the mercy of the systems and management of other companies.
If your favorite flavor is currently missing from the single orders, then having a subscription on the product is going to be by far the best way to keep a regular order of it, as subscriptions allow us to plan ahead significantly better.
Meanwhile though, we’ll be sending out emails about when certain flavors are back, so keep an eye out for that!
Here’s to hoping 2023 is better, but also, with how things have been going... we’ll probably just find new problems to solve.
But hey, we’re used to that now, right?
-Tim, CEO/Founder Vite Kitchens