Saturday, 10 August 2013

09:55 – I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised every time I buy components. So much for government inflation figures. The sodium bicarbonate tablets cost 50% more than they did when I ordered them a year ago. The purple Sharpies were up more than 20% in less than six months. The 9V batteries were up more than 8% since I ordered them a year ago. My guess is that the real inflation figure, like the real unemployment figure, is at least three times higher than the government admits to.

Of course, inflation is actually a hidden tax on monetary assets. It penalizes the prudent and the creditors, and rewards the imprudent and the debtors. And it eventually makes the prudent and the creditors decide to transfer their assets to tangible property instead of fiat currency. Which is why I’m happy that I have, for example, almost a thousand test tube racks in stock. The real value of the money I used to buy those has been decreasing every week, while the real value of those test tube racks remains the same. So, a year from now, that $4 test tube rack will sell for $5 or whatever.


Once the autumn rush has tapered off, I’m seriously thinking about bringing up a shopping cart system. I actually installed Zen Cart a couple of years ago, but I’ve never had time to enable it. Until now, about 99% of our sales have been packaged kits, but we’re starting to get more requests from people who want to order just specific components.

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14 Responses to Saturday, 10 August 2013

  1. SteveF says:

    re shopping cart systems, beware ongoing and hidden fees. Look for an open source shopping cart; there are plenty for free in PHP or Perl. For all of the open/free shopping carts I know of, you can easily hire someone to set it up or customize it if your time is better spent on other tasks. Some of the non-open shopping carts have more features but you’re unlikely to need them. Watch out for the credit/debit card fees; the stated cost is often much lower than the in-practice cost.

    As usual, apologies if any of the above is insultingly obvious. In general I find it’s better to share too much information and experience than too little. The above is the off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts from having worked on store sites a few times.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Thanks.

    Zen Cart is OSS, and I would continue to use PayPal as my credit card processor.

  3. Miles_Teg says:

    The price rises seem to me more like collusion or lake of competition.

  4. Lynn McGuire says:

    And DBD is going after CostCo and their contributions to Barry today:
    http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2013/08/10/

  5. OFD says:

    The great Lone Star State is having problems with feral hogs; send this kid over; he seems pretty capable and determined:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/05/26/alabama-boy-kills-1051-pound-monster-pig-bigger-than-hogzilla/

  6. Lynn McGuire says:

    That hog picture seems a … photoshoppie.

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No, I remember the news story. The hog was for real.

  8. Miles_Teg says:

    It was ‘shopped. I think there’s some sort of prosecution going on over this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Pig

    “Several days after the story broke, suspicion mounted over the authenticity of the photographic evidence. Retired New York University physicist, Dr. Richard Brandt, used perspective geometry to demonstrate that either the pig was 15 feet long (far bigger than claimed) or the boy in the photo was standing several meters behind the pig, using forced perspective to create the optical illusion that the animal was larger than its actual size.[8] Others claim the photographs were digitally altered.[9]”

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, it was pretty clear from looking at the image that the boy was not standing adjacent to the pig. But I don’t believe the image was photoshopped. I seem to remember a followup story where someone went out and looked at the actual carcass. It really was a half-ton porker.

  10. jim` says:

    I’d sure buy specific components from you.

  11. Marcelo Agosti says:

    Which is why I’m happy that I have, for example, almost a thousand test tube racks in stock. The real value of the money I used to buy those has been decreasing every week, while the real value of those test tube racks remains the same. So, a year from now, that $4 test tube rack will sell for $5 or whatever.

    If you were to sell at $5+RBTValueAdd you would not have lost real money, you would be getting your full RBTValueAdd if that is a constant and not a margin percentage…
    If you continue to sell at $4+RBTValueAdd you would still be loosing money since you will have to restock at a higher cost.
    It begs the question, do you carry out periodical updates of the cost of goods that you have in stock and with that update sales prices?

  12. Roy Harvey says:

    I’m seriously thinking about bringing up a shopping cart system…. we’re starting to get more requests from people who want to order just specific components.

    I think you would be letting yourself in for a lot more work for very little revenue. Far more web-site maintenance, too much work keeping prices up to date when each little bit changes, interruptions to your 30-kits-at-a-time routine, unbalanced inventory as items are used up unevenly, different packaging to keep on-hand… If you do try it you probably need to limit sales to people who have already purchased a kit, only offer the chemicals you bottle yourself rather than all the bits and pieces you just buy in bulk, price things rather high and add a significant surcharge to cover the extra time it will all take.

  13. ech says:

    Perhaps a solution for the issues a parts order system brings up would be to offer a couple of different “consumables” packs. Have the chemicals and other items likely to be used up in doing the experiments. That way if there were multiple kids in the household, the younger ones would only need to buy what big sister used up.

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Thanks. We already sell refill kits, which are the consumables only, and we’re happy to sell those to anyone, whether or not they’ve previously bought the kit.

    But I get frequent requests from people who want to buy just some of the consumables because they already have all the equipment they need and some of the chemicals. Until now, I’ve just sent out a spreadsheet with the individual items and prices and told them to just fill in the quantities they want of each. We charge a flat $15 fee for picking, packing, and shipping on custom orders.

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