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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rachel and Brian Recap Noodler's Flex Release


Today's release of the Noodler's Flex pens was one of the craziest, most exciting event we've ever had. GouletPens.com was flooded with traffic, breaking any and all previous records we've ever had, which is wonderful, but it was not without its stresses. Rachel and I made this video for all of you to see an insight into what the day was like for us, and also to explain some of the technical things that were going on behind the scenes on the most intense day in Goulet history.

Also, Write Time is postponed tonight. We're having extended family in town just for tonight, so we're going to spend time with them (that is, when we aren't packing up orders). We're sorry! We're going to make it a special Write Time on Wednesday (6/8) at 9pm EDT. We will be exhausted, for sure, but we feel there's a lot about this release that warrants discussion and feedback. Sound like a plan?

49 comments:

  1. Patrick ThorntonJune 7, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    The problems with your server were out of your control.  You guys always do everything to the best of your abilities--it is so obvious.  I'm just glad I was able to get a Cardinal Darkness. 

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  2. i think you did a great job considering the web rush! that was the closest thing to an online stampede. LOL! and i love that you update your customers on Twitter and FB. looking forward to my pens (and my friends') going across the seas to us here in the Philippines :-D

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  3. it was kinda fun! i snagged a clear one i must be speedy! ;)
    and yes, server issues were beyond your control. ive never had a problem with lagging like i did today.

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  4. Thank you, Patrick! Considering the strain put on the servers today, I think it's a small miracle they didn't lock up and crash altogether! We did a lot of planning ahead of time, and it worked out about as well as it possibly could given the resources available to a mom and pop like us.

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  5. We sure feel stampeded! ;) ;) Seriously, we knew it would be crazy, and it turned out even crazier than we anticipated. We wanted to be active on FB and Twitter (and the blog) because we knew how exciting things would be. We've also found a couple of threads on FPN about today's events as well!

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  6. You got a clear! Wow, you are one of the few and lucky ones ;) As for the lagging, we've never experienced lagging like that, even with previous flex pen releases (and we didn't have as much bandwidth back in January, either!). It was just a monumental day today, one that we will not soon forget, for sure!

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  7. I figured the demonstrators were going to be sought by a lot of people. So, I ordered my 2 favorite ones (cardinal & lapis) before they were sold out. Then, I checked one hour later that the other two were not sold out yet, and I ordered the other 2 colors. I like all the colors. I was a bit concerned at the beginning of my shopping, I'm glad it didn't crash with the avalanche of orders. I agreed with Manda it was fun and exciting ;-)

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  8. Perhaps don't announce it next time since the servers were overloaded?
    Spread the load a little more.

    Dave

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  9. I'm thankful the site didn't crash too! The pens went fast, especially the clear. We're going to really push to get more clear in the next batch. I'm really glad you had fun, we enjoyed it too (despite the stress!).

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  10. Well, because next time the pens should be available much sooner and be more regularly available, a pent-up demand like this shouldn't cause such a bog-down. We could always just randomly release it, but then a lot of folks would be upset because we didn't give advance notice! The clears still would have sold incredibly fast, and most people wouldn't have even had a chance to get them that way.

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  11. Yes! Due 3 days before Christmas :) Thanks!

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  12. Whew - that was an adventure, but you handled it very well!  I am glad for the advance notice, because otherwise I'd have missed the chance to get the pens in the colors I wanted. I see today they are all gone.

    I would be up for a Wednesday Write Time, but understandable if you're too overworked to do one.

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  13. It is nice to see you are so popular and that the flex pens were so popular.  It was an adventure purchasing them and even though the clear went so fast I realized that the quantities may not have been there so was not devastated....lol. 
    Enjoy the chaos of packaging all the orders, go ahead and ship mine as Canada Post is on a rotating strike and I will eventually get my pens.  After all I did choose full tracking.

    Nathalie MacKay

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  14. Wednesday is good for me.  :)

    You guys can't be blamed for the website or the craziness.  You always do your best and I think we all know that.  It was kind of exciting.  ;)

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  15. I have an idea. Nathan should sell flex and non-flex feeds
    and nids as service parts. People could do conversions of the non-flex pens to
    flex or flex to non-flex, they could even make ebonite flex pens.  It will get people more hands on setting
    feeds, if they break the feed … well it’s a service part.  Availability of service parts is a mark of a
    good pen.  It’s practically no work on
    his end, just bag up the nib and feed in a little crack bag. You could even do
    the bagging. And it will equalize the demand between flex and non-flex pens.
    Given the total price of the pen it would be dirt-cheap.

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  16. Well it was an experience ;) I put together my shopping list (forgetting half of course) and everything was solid and smooth and I wondered, 'shouldn't it get slow, it is nearing t time...'
    At 1pm your time I thought, 'just see if the pens are there, yet. Ah, I see, the server is gone.'
    Well gladly the server wasn't gone, but it took time to get my pens... I am just glad I don't like the clear ones...
    I don't see what you could have done to prevent this, except spread it out, 1 colour per day. On the technical side: well in an ideal world with unlimited money, yes you could have done something, in the real world it was out of your hands.
    I've never been part of a "flash crowd", for want of a better word, it was kind of fun, the hunters instincts awakened, but next time I'll look the next day, and see what is left, much less stressful :)

    But of course, I am the lucky one, after checkout my stress was over, you will have a lot more time to "enjoy" it ;)

    Thank you for some interesting times ;)

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  17. I got my order in and cant believe you guys have managed to ship it out already! You guys are just amazing! Its always a pleasure purchasing products from you, thanks.

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  18. It was fun, exciting, a little frustrating, and ultimately satifying--you guys did great.

    One suggestion--once you're caught up with the shipping, you might want to post a video on "How to get the most out of your flex pen." If you don't have time to create one yourself, or you don't feel that you're the Wizard of Flex, you could solicit your customers to submit their own videos (or recommend links to an existing video on YouTube or whatever).

    'Cause in less than a week, a whole bunch of us will have flex pens that we don't really know how to use. 

    Ink Nouveau is a wonderful resource.

    Thanks!

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  19. Actually, I just searched on "noodler flex" in YouTube and it coughed up a couple of videos by various people trying out the Noodler's flex pen. So the stuff's out there. Your video on adjusting the nib & feed looks very useful.

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  20. Thanks, guys, for all you do. I was literally jumping up and down while I was waiting for the pages to load. I agree with the idea of spacing out by color, maybe not per day, but a color every hour, or something - spread out the load.

    I'm very happy that I got the pens that I wanted, and my order has shipped today. I'm glad I'm so close - I should get it the day after tomorrow!

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  21. I'm amazed at how fast the pens went! I couldn't imagine them going in one day, but they sold out in about 12 hours. Crazy!

    We're going to do Write Time Wednesday. Even though we're working hard, we feel it's important to get feedback from everyone while it's fresh in everyone's mind!

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  22. The clear pens went so fast it was just insane. We knew it would happen too, but what can you do when you only have so many pens? Canada Post drama still continues...it looks like the strike won't resolve right away, but it's still rotating so packages will still go through, though maybe a bit slower than normal.

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  23. Thank you! We've taken some steps to make things go smoother next time, and we'll address that in Write Time.

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  24. Leve, you idea is a good concept, but the problem is that Nathan is having to heat set every one of the feeds to fit the Noodler's flex nibs. It's that labor that's the holdup on the pens, so the 'parts' aren't as readily available as you talk about here. I know he's in the process of redesigning his feeds so this isn't an issue, we'll see what happens then. Keep in mind, too, a lot of the cost of any item is shipping and distribution, so while a pen might be $14, I'm willing to bet a nib/feed alone would not be a significant savings over the whole pen.

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  25. You did the right thing by loading up everything else early! You got to experience the normal working site and the site under stress! Honestly, we just couldn't predict exactly how crazy things got. Never in any previous release did we have any slow down of our server, this time there were just that many people logged on at once! I'm thankful the site didn't crash, and because it didn't I am able to sleep at night ;) Seriously though, with the level of server we have, it would take FAR more than what we had to make it completely crash. We'll look to do a different strategy for a release like this if we feel that's a real possibility.

    As for listing a different color every day, though it's a good idea in theory, it would be a logistical nightmare for us to combine orders for anyone who wanted multiple colors....plus the last color we list would be least desirable because the rest of our site would be raided from all of the previous colors! We have really tried to think through every other possible solution, and a one-day release like this, as imperfect as it is, still is the best way for us to manage everything overall.

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  26. We weren't able to ship out any orders Monday afternoon (like I'd hoped) because we were so inundated with logistical issues like order changes and things like that. It took Rachel about 9 hours to sort through it all just to prepare everything to even be ready to ship. We started packing this morning and worked feverishly all day. Our helpers are coming in early and staying late every day this week, and we've shipped out about 1/4 of the orders that came in Monday so far. It'll take us the rest of the week working at a record-setting pace to catch up. That's a good thing though! This is a situation we're very thankful to be in.

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  27. I definitely plan to do this. I know a video on adjusting the feed to accomodate finicky inks is necessary, and I will do that. I personally am not the best flex writer, but I am happy to share all of the sources I've found so far in a blog post in the next week or so. I won't leave you hanging, don't worry! ;) I'm also open to any suggestions for good videos or blog posts others have done regarding flex stuff. You can always post links in the comments on my blog here (just as long as they aren't blatantly self-promotional type stuff).

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  28. You will be one of the first to get it! Lucky you ;) Spreading out the listing of the pens may ease the server's burden a bit (maybe not though!), but it would greatly increase the burden on my darling wife, who coordinates all of the orders and payments. With the number of people that ordered multiple colors, I can't imagine how long it would take her to sort through all of the orders if we listed all of the pens separately. Think about it, let's say you wanted one of each color and we listed each color at a different time, that's 5 different times that you would have to set your life aside and order the pens, not to mention that's 5 separate orders you'd place. Obviously, it wouldn't make sense to ship you those 5 pens separately, so you'd want them combined....well, that would mean that Rachel would have to combine all of your separate orders into one, then reconcile them all in our accounting software....oh that would just be a mess for us to do. It's a great concept, but the logistics are frightening! We did it this way because with all of the factors involved, it was the best way we felt it was to be done. In retrospect, we have no regrets.

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  29. Just out of curiosity, what generally speaking determines how orders are fulfilled? There are a bunch of possibilities, ranging from chronological order to random to some type of geography-based shipping (US first, most distant first, who knows). 

    I'm more than happy to get these pens basically whenever, particularly since it will take all of a day or maybe two to reach me. :) These little things just pique my curiosity. 

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  30. I just got my email saying you had shipped my pen - wow, you guys are quick! I have to tell you, I am very impressed with how well you both have handled this. It must have been an absolute madhouse for you but you've done really well at keeping on top of things. Thank you for the incredible service.

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  31. I've already received my pen and am so in love with it! It was my first time ordering from you guys & absolutely worth it. Thank you, Goulets! :)

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  32. I am not suggesting selling nibs and feeds separately as a way to expedite production, I think people may want to make ebonite noodler’s flex pens and upgrades of non-flex or use it to replace old gold nibs in other pens if they break.  I am aware of the need to heat-set the nib and feed. I have never done it myself, but Nathan has a video on his inkneedlastforver youtube account and it does not seem that hard. That’s what I mean by it will be more hands on. The non-heat set nibs make it seem even more attractive.
    You do manage to provide the replacement o-ring for $0.50. I guess if people want a replacement nib and feed they may have to order some ink on the side to make the shipping worth their while (hint ...hint).  When deciding to buy a pen availability of replacement nibs is always something I take into account. But I wouldn’t want to saddle you with something you couldn’t sell.

    With the other comment I was just stating people tend to buy more of something, when availability seems to be limited. I was of course referring to flex pens.  

    Leve

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  33. We're filling them in the order they came in, sequentially. If there are any special cases that we're made aware of such as needing it before a certain date for a gift, going out of town, moving, something like that, we'll bump you to the front, if you email us about it or include it in your order comments.

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  34. Thank you for the compliments...Monday was a sprint, the rest of this week is the marathon. Getting all of the orders in is one thing, shipping them out takes much longer and is pretty backbreaking work. I'm working super-extra overtime this week to catch up!

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  35. You're going to make everyone else jealous! ;) Thanks for choosing us, let me know how you like the pen when you try it out!

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  36. I know there is plenty of demand for the flex nibs and feeds themselves, and I've brought this up with Nathan before. He's just not interested right now in offering these parts, so my hands are tied. He's a one-man show making all of the ink and assembling the pens, so if he says he can't do something, I definitely believe him.

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  37. You need a high school-aged intern who's interested in entrepreneurship. You provide learning opportunities/credit and they provide labor. Think about it. 

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  38. This was tons of fun! Thank you Brian and Rachel for all your hard work and customer service :)

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  39. Aw there's no need to apologize. To be honest I anticipated the frenzy over these pens. That's why I got my wife to order for me the moment they went on stock because I couldn't order from work and I thought they would be sold out by the time I got home. I got her to put everything else in the cart beforehand and all she had to do was add the flex pen I wanted once it became available. I'm just glad I got my lapis inferno :) Nice work Rachel and Brian! We all appreciate the hard work you put in on this occasion and in general.

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  40. Outstanding service and interesting to know. I hope the madness subsides enough for a breather before whatever the next big thing is. 

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  41. We have one high-schooler than helps, but it's a lot to take in if you aren't here every day. The way we do things is very intense, even packing orders! ;)

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  42. Thank you! Be thankful to your wife, too, the Lapis definitely would have been gone before you got home from work!

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  43. I just want to clarify: It was an _interesting_ experience. I don't mind the problems that occurred, I work in IT, I know what can happen, so I was more surprised, that the site was working fast beforehand. It was fun to have been part of the Noodlers Flex landslide ;)
    I didn't mean to criticise the experience. I wouldn't do it again in a hurry, but it was a "fountain pen happening", I was there and survived ;)

    BTW I was very pleasantly surprised how fast you sent out my package, admit it, you knew beforehand what I wanted and prepared it ;)

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  44. No offense taken :) The site actually worked really well all things considered! We've since been moved to a different server to be able to handle even more traffic, so that should help there. And for shipping quickly, we're working like MAD to go as fast as we can. It was a long wait for the pens to get here, it was a lot of trouble to buy them, the least we can do for you is get it to you as fast as possible ;)

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  45. You guys deserve every success! Looking forward to my order of Flex pens. 
    I really appreciated the email reminder on Monday afternoon!.... I almost forgot all about the release date.... whew! that was a close one!

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  46. Thank you Tom! Yes, that's why we do those email reminders...we try to mention the release date on Ink Nouveau, Facebook, Twitter, our website, FPN, and everywhere we can, but the emails are still the best way to get the word out!

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  47. Oh I checked a couple of hours later (or maybe even sooner) and the lapis + demonstrator weren't in stock anymore.

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