An update from Lost Stock
When we first started this project in May, we could never have anticipated your generosity. We set out to generate enough support for 10,000 families and just 4 months later that number is now over 116,000. And not only that; we’ve been able to support impacted factories by buying their cancelled orders at the same time.
With any new project you won’t get everything right, but with something of this scale and during a pandemic it’s even more challenging. We’ve now delivered over 85,000 orders so far, and while tens of thousands of you are delighted with your Lost Stock order, unfortunately a small number of people haven’t been. We have done our best to address their individual concerns, but we felt it was important to share the steps we’ve taken with you all as well.
For anyone that isn’t happy, we are very sorry. We’re working hard to put it right, whether that’s getting your order to you as quickly as possible or if we didn’t deliver you a mystery box with something you liked in it, then figuring out a solution.
When we set up Lost Stock we did it with one aim in mind - to make a difference. We have been blown away by the support of hundreds of thousands of people and, whilst it’s been amazing that we have been able to help so many families in Bangladesh, we recognise that it has not always been perfect.
We’ve learnt a lot and we are still learning. We are open to feedback and doing things differently but we would also ask everyone to be kind and remember that we’re doing this to help others, with a small team and that we've only existed for just over 4 months.
If you love your order and what we’ve built, please help us spread the word and allow us to help even more families. If you don’t, then we’re sorry - drop us an email and let us try to make it right.
To find more about the stories of the people you are helping, please see here.
Finally, THANK YOU.
- Team Lost Stock
How much goes to workers?
Our fundraising efforts are split between two areas.
Firstly, the pure donation element; money going directly to factory workers and their families via SAJIDA Foundation (37%).
Then there is the money going to the factories we buy the goods from - this is how we buy the items for your box. This much needed revenue helps them sustain operations and protect the future livelihoods or workers and is approx 30%.
We set Lost Stock up in this manner to ensure that we were able to guarantee funds reached as many impacted garment workers as possible, those employed but on reduced hours/pay but also those who have lost their jobs.
We retain 9% to pay our staff in the UK who are handling sourcing, logistics, operations, marketing and customer service. We’ve always been open and clear about how our funds are spent and this is on the front page of our website - as it has been from day one. Standard retail margins are 60-70%, and even charities will normally need a minimum of 20% for the running costs of the organisation; in some cases it’s over 50%.
The contents of my box are on sale with a retailer
We’ve purchased products that have been cancelled by 50+ brands across hundreds of different lines, so there is a huge mix of clothing across boxes. We understand that at least one retailer might have returned to buy some of the stock they originally cancelled from factories (which is a good thing).
Unfortunately, we can’t control what the retailer is now selling that item for and can only work on the RRP they had originally set it at when calculating the value of each Lost Stock box.
I don’t think my Lost Stock box is worth the money
We’re really sorry that you feel that way. No package leaves the warehouses until it meets our outlined value, based on RRP.
In the UK a lot of companies are currently offering discounts below RRP so it can feel like the value has been eroded but it is the only measure we have to set the value of a box.
We have to remove the labels from an item to be allowed to sell it. We also can’t say which item came from which brand and what the RRP was set at due to the agreements we have to have with factories due to their long term relationships with brands.
We would ask everyone to remember that as well as receiving the clothing, you are contributing to those most-impacted in Bangladesh - so there are multiple benefits to the process.
My preferences don’t match what I originally selected
As we’re only buying from cancelled lines it’s not always possible to match all the preferences put in during sign up, although our team works hard to make this happen. Sometimes we don’t have the volume of orders for that preference to be able to buy lines from factories who might be holding tens of thousands of units of an item, or those products simply don’t exist amongst cancelled stock.
We’ve always said we use preferences as a guide and can’t guarantee matches. Following customer feedback we have now made this even clearer throughout the checkout process, and narrowed down the choices. If you’re not happy, just get in touch and we’ll find a fix. Please remember that we are a small team though, and we are working through any queries as quickly as possible.
Due to the cause behind Lost Stock, we also don't hold stock in the UK
You removed the £70 per box claim from your website
We haven't. We continue to stick to our £70 original RRP value; it’s set in our Twitter auto tweet when you buy a Lost Stock box, and on our website which states that clothes will have an original RRP worth double the value of the (£35) box in multiple places.
Why have there been delays?
Building a totally new supply chain at any point in time is difficult but clearly creating one during a global pandemic is even more complex.
Like many other businesses trying to make things happen in the pandemic, we were hit with challenges around logistics, transport and border control. However, everything is now working and boxes are flowing through to consumers, with over 85,000 delivered so far and tens of thousands with delivery partners globally. We’re sorry that it’s taken us longer than we thought it would, but we’re doing everything we can to speed up the process and orders being placed now should be delivered within 6-8 weeks as outlined.
Why can’t you tell me when my order will arrive?
Until we have the stock for your order in our warehouse, it’s very difficult for us to be exact with when an order will be delivered. Delays can occur at multiple points in the process before this, such as with factories delabeling goods or with products failing quality control, which can mean other products need to be sourced for your order.
Why do you discourage returns?
Returns cost money - even if you leave the donation with SAJIDA Foundation and ship it back to us we still need to process your return which has the potential to reduce the impact we can have. So if you get something you don’t like we would love for you to consider swapping it with others through one of the swap groups on Facebook that have been created by the Lost Stock community, trying one of the swap platforms we’ve partnered with or donating it to a good cause. See our impact page for ways to do this.
Why do you remove the labels?
We have no choice. Factories will not sell us stock unless the labels are removed for the sake of their long term relationships with brands. When dealing with hundreds of thousands of products sometimes a human error will result in products slipping through this process. We only buy from factories and not from any brands directly.
Flying products and packing them in plastic doesn't seem very environmentally friendly?
In the current circumstances, we don't have any choice in these matters. As the goods are from cancelled orders, we only utilise the packaging that the factory has available and each product needs to be packaged in something for transit.
With our focus on factory to consumer connection and the starting place for goods, the option of air freight is the only one open to us to look to meet our 6-8 week delivery timeframe moving forwards.
We are exploring different options to improve both of these areas.
How can you sell Autumn/Winter boxes?
Brands have also cancelled completed autumn and winter stock - one factory alone that got in touch with us had 270,000 products that a brand was refusing to pay for. We can’t turn our back on people asking for help for them and their workers. These boxes cost more due to higher product costs and higher shipping fees (heavier items), which we include part of in the box price instead of just the postage and packing costs, similar to many other companies.
You're not open to feedback
We know we won’t have got everything right but we’ve existed for just three months. We’re learning at every step of the way and want to improve everything we’re doing. We are collecting feedback and comments in a number of ways. If you have feedback please get in touch with us directly on email@example.com, or you can let us know what you think in this feedback form.
Why aren't you holding companies to account?
We know that Lost Stock doesn’t tackle the long term issues this industry faces or how some garment workers are treated. Instead we’ve tried to alleviate some of the short term problems facing people, problems that were created or made worse by COVID-19. With over 117,000 weeks worth of support generated, together with our customers we think we’ve managed to make a small difference in an awful situation.
We want long term change, and we’ve been working for years to make retail more effective with Mallzee Insights, and in turn improve conditions throughout the supply chain - but it can’t be achieved overnight.
We want to work with people to create a long lasting impact and if given that chance we’re sure we can do so. We have lots of ideas for this, we have the contact base and hopefully the community that can allow us to try to do this.
Thanks again for buying from Lost Stock - it really has made a big difference and we really value your support!
If you’re not happy, please let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do what we can to help.