It may not seem like a big deal to order something off of Amazon that they don't normally carry. They have a book you want that isn't in stock, but it says they can source it from an outside wholesaler. Delivery estimate is five to seven days, so you say, "What the heck," push click, and don't think any further about it. Then seven days go by and you start to wonder what happened to the package. "It said seven days!" you think to yourself, "and yet it isn't here!" Maddening thoughts of outrage race through your head as you start to think about other places you could have ordered that book from which may have delievered it faster, albeit for two dollars more. "I'm so cheap," you think to yourself. "I should have just gone down to Borders and bought it outright." I mean, really, how hard can it be to order one little book and have it shipped? Well, my friends, let me tell you how hard it can be.
If you want me to order you one bottle of booze that we don't normally carry, it is infinitely harder than ordering case upon case. First of all, distributors won't drop off one measly bottle. You need a $400 minimum order to have them bring anything and maybe I only need that one bottle. I then have to start thinking about other products I might be able to use and craft the smallest shipment possible just to get that one bottle of Crop Tomato Vodka someone wanted. I normally wouldn't have ordered anything from this distributor, but I somehow find a way to make it work. Take this example, mulitply it by forty, and you'll see what I have to deal with every week. That's just getting the order started.
Then, because they're only bringing one bottle, the odds are huge that the delivery guy will either 1) break the bottle on the way over, 2) lose the bottle on the way over, 3) grab the Celery Vodka instead of the Tomato Vodka, or 4) charge us the wrong price - all of which cause me to have to send everything back (not just the one bottle) because they won't even bring one bottle on a delivery when it's THEIR mistake. $400 is the minimum even when they mess up. So we have to start all over. If they're shipping the bottle to me, then it's even worse because I then have to ship it back and start all over again with about five extra days added on to the lag time. Multiply this scenario by ten and you'll have a good example of an average week here at the spirits department.
The point is? I had a customer today lose it because a special order product didn't come in time and he asked me how hard was it to pick up the phone and order something? I wanted to say, "Sir, let me break it down for you," but all I could do was apologize. I am sure that other retailers deal with this same nonsense all the time, so I ask that you all take a minute to reflect on what the reality of your holiday shopping requires. It requires me to jump through hoops of utter incompetency. I hope however that in the end we are able to get you what you need in a realistic time frame. It isn't as easy as it sounds.