Some amazing business advice I received early on after starting ITS, was to never outsource your core competency. As ITS grew beyond a content-only business model using advertising revenue to keep us going, we leaned into memberships and an amazing community that still supports our content to this day.
As we continued to grow, so did interest in the ITS logo and what started as selling promotional items like stickers, patches and t-shirts, turned into carrying the best products we could find that complemented the preparedness skill-sets we advocate and write about.
That first ITS Store order shipped out of my dining room in 2010 was the result of my logistics nerdity that originated from selling Star Wars figures on eBay back in 1996, just over a year after they opened. I’d collect action figures by buying an extra to sell for a profit to pay for the one I’d get to keep. I sold my collection a long time ago, but what remained was the enthusiasm, efficiency and speed at which I’d use to compete against myself to get those packages out the door to the winners of my auctions. I’d also track everything in spreadsheets before auction management software was developed.
The reason I’m telling you this story is that as ITS has grown, our online store has become our primary business model. Our logistics and fulfillment have always been one of our core competencies and we’ve invested heavily into inventory management systems to ensure order accuracy and accountability of our products. I’ve mentioned one of our core tenants in a previous email; if you can put an item in your cart, it means we physically have it here in our HQ warehouse in Arlington, TX and it will ship out to you within 1-2 business days (we always beat that estimate though.)
We’re faster than Amazon is right now too. There was a time we tried to sell on Amazon as an additional outlet, using their fulfillment to qualify for Prime. It was a mistake and it broke the core competency advice I told you about above, because we lost our ability to directly interact with our customer.
While some eCommerce businesses are struggling due to the decisions they’ve made to outsource and the delays its causing, these are luckily problems that we aren’t experiencing. I feel extremely fortunate to have the business we do, our dedicated employees that make our logistics sing and the amazing customers like you that continue to rely on our quality, dependability and reputation as a preparedness company.
Our county has just enacted a shelter-in-place order, but particularly pointed to exemptions for eCommerce businesses to continue their operations, provided employees can remain 6 ft. apart. We fit this exemption and because of our strong connections in supplying Military units, Law Enforcement agencies, First Responders and prepared civilians with lifesaving equipment, we’re also deemed “essential” and you can trust that we’ll be here for you no matter what may come.
We’re one of the lucky businesses still operating at 110% and I don’t take a fraction of that for granted. Like others, we’re making movements behind the scenes to acquire what we can to help out local emergency services, hospitals and those on the front lines fighting this virus.
I wish you and your loved ones continued health and prosperity. I know we all face uncertainties ahead, but America is resilient and this too shall pass…
~ Bryan Black
Founder & CEO, ITS Tactical