Originally posted by Turbo Joe
I was out last night at one of the local Hobby People looking for parts...they were all talking about how hard it is to get HPI parts. The manager even commented about how they had all kinds of drama getting R40 parts...and how they're just now getting all the parts...LOL
You're talking about supply issues at a chain whose stores keep one pair of wheels in stock at a time...
As far as the supply issues go, it's apparent that not all of you guys have experience dealing with things from behind the scenes, which is to be expected. There's a clear chain of events that happens:
- car owner needs the part
- car owner contacts hobby shop, who either sells the part or if the car owner asks, orders the part
- shop orders the part if requested or (should) order the part to replace the now-missing part
- distributor gets order from shop, sends the part if in stock or places the part on order with manufacturer
- manufacturer gets order from distributor, send the part if in stock or places the part on backorder list from supplier
You can see that there are many links to the chain. If a manufacturer doesn't get orders from distributors, their stock runs low and when a big order comes in from the distributors there's a certain amount of "lead time" that it takes for the manufacturer to get the parts. The lead time is made up of order processing time, actual manufacturing time, shipping time (surface shipments from Asia take a while), and order processing time (again, to go through Customs and the receiving portion of the warehouse, Customs can take a few days on its own). Then there's the shipping time to the distributors, processing time again, shipping time to the shops, then to you.
The lead time for a West Coast manufacturer to get stuff from Asia can be three or four months (!) after everything is considered. The manufacturer may not sell onesy-twosy quanitities to distributors, so the distributors may have to wait until demand builds up for an item and they can place an order for 5 or 10 quantity of a certain part - who knows how long that can take. Then the shop has to get the order from the customer, who may or may not be even requesting the part be ordered. So you can see that it could take up to 6 months or more for the whole supply chain to catch up. You're able to order loads of parts from Japan or Hong Kong because they're so much closer to HPI Japan, who is so much closer to the suppliers.
Now hopefully it's also easy to see why smaller manufacturers like, say, Penguin, BMI, etc., are able to respond to demand faster because it's usually one or two guys handling everything.
It's true that there are sometimes problems getting parts supply for brand new kits. BUT having worked at HPI
myself I can vouch for the fact that the designers give the sales people the list of parts that are likely to need replacing, and the sales people give the distributors this list also. It's up to the distributor to order the parts and convince the shops that they should have them in stock, among the 100,000 or so other parts they could possibly order.
That bit I put in bold up above in the supply chain is where the customer comes in. If you go into your local shop and ask if they have Pro 4 part XXXXX and they don't have it, what do you do? Do you walk out in frustration or do you ask the shop to order it?
If you walk out, the shop doesn't order it, therefore the distributor doesn't order it and you never see the part from that shop. The shop never knows. It's compounded by the fact that many shop employees could care less if you get your part or not (think about the 18-year olds that work at your local Hobby People). If you're talking with the owner or manager they may ask if you want to order the part. Again, if you don't, they shrug, turn to the next customer and you're out the door.
If the manufacturer doesn't get orders they won't order replacements from the suppliers. They don't want to keep the shelves full of tens of thousands of dollars worth of product that they may or may not sell - they want to keep the stock moving so they can sell things, not keep the stock there to gather dust. That's money that isn't coming in.
It's an issue that is self-replicating and it's easy to see a lot of problems with the process. I can't offer a solution to cure it but that's how it works, at least from my view. I've worked at the retail level (not in hobby shops but in general), have hung around small retail shops a ton, now work for the distributor, and have worked for a manufacturer so it's easy to see how the system works and sometimes doesn't work.
For the punter (the average Joe), I would suggest finding a favorite local "brick and mortar" shop that you buy kits from and stuff, but have all the local shops in your area (if you're living in SoCal or another place with several shops around) on your mobile phone so you can call and see what's in stock at any time. If none of the shops have anything in stock, call your local and ask them to order it for you. Most managers will happily tell you they get shipments twice a week and if the part's in stock with their distributor you get it in 3 days. Otherwise, there's the multitude of online shops. But if their shopping cart software just tells you "out of stock" on a part, they're not going to know how many more people need that part, they'll just sell out on their next shipment and place another order with their supplier. They want to keep things moving too.
I hope this all made sense and helps you guys see that it's not HPI's fault parts supply is weak right now. The car is still pretty new on the market, no matter what you may think. Parts demand is high and the supply chain hasn't caught up yet.