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BrightCandle

A lot of out of stock across the UK

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Its remarkable how little of the things listed on the websites of the various firms around the UK is actually in stock. Having finally found an item in stock today ordered and get an email a few hours later telling me alas they were sorry the stock count was wrong and it'll be 3 weeks. The whole point of having UK retailers is for them to hold the stock so we can get it quickly rather than waiting 3 weeks for hong kong imports! Vent over.

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well i think more of the point of having uk retailers is that they will make money here so they have an airsoft shop, with airsoft the stuff you want wont always be in stock but just email the retailer ask them when it will be back in stock they will tell you and if they dont have any on order they will usually add it to another order as well, most companies will be happy to help, i say most because there are a few ones who are a bit stuck up but thats just life.

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What annoys me is when they have discontinued or rare items still listed on their sites but as out of stock. Case in point when I was after my Maruzen CA870: took me a year or so before ZeroOne got a batch in stock - despite them (as well as many others) having them listed on their websites without a way of knowing when they'd be likely to get a restock.

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One problem smaller retailers have is that some wholesale suppliers only accept orders for $1000 - $2000 plus, any less and they just won't bother with you. I certainly wouldn't have waited a year to order a CA870 from ZeroOne, surely you could have ordered it from abroad?

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Wasn't waiting for just Zero one to have them - I had a fair few different sites on email notification. Plus I wasn't sure about ordering from outside the UK at that point in time (which I now do a fair bit of ironically) in terms of legally getting it into the country - I didn't want to risk my RIF getting sezied at customs.

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A lot of websites aren't updated in any meaningful way. Best I have seen is Gunfire, they have an live stock control that updates the site as stuff goes in and out of stock.

Most sites just have a manual system where it needs someone to go on and change the status when they can be bothered.

 

Plus it is easier to leave an item on the site than it is to remove and re-add as it comes in and out of stock.

LIt makes your site look bigger to have more items listed even if you don't have them.

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There are a lot of airsoft retailers in general, but most of them do seem to be kind of small and low on stock of most items. The ones in hong kong seem to have most things in stock but its also weeks away. There clearly isn't enough airsofters in the UK to keep a bigger store going, or a lot of the purchasing is done locally in stores rather than on the internet. Getting a pair of lopro regulator googles is proving to be near on impossible, everyone seems to be out of stock (a few of them said they had stock but then I ordered and well then they didn't).

 

Most of the websites are also kind of hard to navigate. Wolfarmouries might actually have stock but they have the worst website I have seen in ages, its really bad. Yet those with good websites seem to be out of stock of everything or only stock one brand of gun/sight/clothing etc and hence aren't much use. Its actually kind of frustrating trying to gear up relatively quickly.

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There are a lot of airsoft retailers in general, but most of them do seem to be kind of small and low on stock of most items. The ones in hong kong seem to have most things in stock but its also weeks away. There clearly isn't enough airsofters in the UK to keep a bigger store going, or a lot of the purchasing is done locally in stores rather than on the internet. Getting a pair of lopro regulator googles is proving to be near on impossible, everyone seems to be out of stock (a few of them said they had stock but then I ordered and well then they didn't).

 

Most of the websites are also kind of hard to navigate. Wolfarmouries might actually have stock but they have the worst website I have seen in ages, its really bad. Yet those with good websites seem to be out of stock of everything or only stock one brand of gun/sight/clothing etc and hence aren't much use. Its actually kind of frustrating trying to gear up relatively quickly.

 

This is EXACTLY how I felt when I started trying to buy kit! The gucci stuff is in stock but expensive, nothing popular stays on the shelf for long and as you say retailers have massive website with no stock. It's frustrating but I've found the finding the various stores on Facebook is a good way to keep up to date with deliveries and new stock.

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Not just the uk airsoft club in Hong Kong have parts i want that are also out of stock seems to be a disease and infecting retailers of airsoft globally

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It appears there are global issues with, particularly, stuff coming from China. The factories just can't keep up with demand generally. This isn't just in airsoft, several other hobbies are experiencing the same issues with availability (as an example, Hornby Model railways which is having terrible trouble with production/availability/quality control allegedly).

 

The reasons are many; politics, factories going bust/ being shut down, massive orders taking precedence over smaller ones (airsoft is a small scale concern in global terms, with relatively small production runs), price hikes etc etc.

 

Some companies are looking elsewhere for production capacity (I read in Airsoft Action that ASG (if I remember correctly) are looking to have their new Scorpion Evo AEG made in Europe).

 

Basically the upshot seems to be if you're after a particular model of AEG that originates in China (ie most of them) get it at the first opportunity as you may not get another chance for a long time once its gone. I expect most UK retailers are doing their best to get stock in and are no doubt just as frustrated as us players a lot of the time.

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This has been frustrating me too recently and I honestly don't think it has anything to do with scale.

 

I previously worked in online sale for motorbike clothing and gear, selling mostly top end stuff. There are more people in the uk willing to pay £200 for airsoft than £1200 for a leather jacket. Some stuff was mass produced in the millions and some stuff was limited production runs of 500 for the entire world, we still managed to be able to get hold of stock when we needed it, and if we didn't or couldn't I made it invisible from the customer, but was still on the site and indexable. We had problems with the Italians, such as aprilia because they shut down for the summer.

 

But never the problems we seem to have with airsoft.

I don't know the ins and outs of how the airsoft industry works, but retail works on two main supply principles. Distribution and direct import. As far as I can see there are no uk distributors for products. People who import millions of pounds worth of stock into a central uk warehouse and distribute it out to the dealer, who sells it out to the customer.

 

What I believe happens is the shops place their order direct with the factory and import what they want each year. Inevitably meaning that everyone imports the same popular stuff because they know it will sell, and having stock on a shelf not sell is bad.

The problem with this method is you are limited by your bank account as to how much stock you can import. You are limited to how much much your bank account can grow because of how much you can sell. And in this economic climate it's difficult to get grants or loans for huge amounts of stock.

Meaning the shops are left ultimately stagnating.

 

And don't even get me started on the preowned market, where people believe it's acceptable to sell second hand stuff at 80% retail price.

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I think one thing that would help a lot is if shops actually bothered having a filter to only show in stock items. Loads of shops in the UK and overseas don't seem to have this facility. It's all well and good showing a list of 50 GBB pistols, but when you've got 7 in stock and may not ever restock some of them, then what exactly is the point?

 

If people want a specific model they will almost certainly search for it, unless said website has a crap search tool which is another issue entirely. I would not be surprised at all if shops were creating work for themselves by constantly fielding queries about new stock of items that aren't in production any more. Seems a bit silly, maybe it is just me lol.

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I've noticed this and recently the only websites I've been looking at are either eHobby Asia, RSOV, Gunfire and Taiwan Gun. (Plus a quick look on Airsoft-Club and Redwolf too)

Shipping prices are expensive but more times than not the stuff still works out cheaper than from the UK.

 

For example, box set of 8 MAG MP5 magazines.

 

Airsoft Supply Drop ~ £60 delivered.

RSOV - £45 shipped (IIRC)

 

Tokyo Marui Glock 17 (Gen 3) - $182 or £108.40. ($39 of that is for shipping)

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Some companies are looking elsewhere for production capacity (I read in Airsoft Action that ASG (if I remember correctly) are looking to have their new Scorpion Evo AEG made in Europe

That's true. I have Norway / Sweden in my head...could be one of those. It's been a while. I think AirsoftGI interviewed someone at Shot Show and he said that's what's happening.

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Definitely in Europe as I watched that vid too. I'm trying to avoid watching vids on the evo though - the more I see it the more I want one.

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You're right, Nuts, there is no UK distributor importing a £1M+ worth of stock, but there are retailers acting as sole distributors for certain brands, but on a much smaller scale; for eg Fire Support are ICS for England & Wales and Land Warrior are ICS for Scotland - now in one way this makes no sense at all, in that surely tf national boundaries have less impact than the texture of shite on our boots on the already relatively small market for the whole of airsoft, let alone ICS products in particular, but FS have occasionally really taken the piss over prices (even of stuff that wasn't in stock lol) and I suspect that without LW as competition, Frank would get in there and dip his bread at every opportunity. I swear to you, I imported a set of ICS fast & quiet helical gears MC-108 from the USA, paying the VAT and courier fee, and it was still cheaper than Frank quoted me over the phone and a week faster too...

 

And then there's Zero One and the infamous "we'll have 'em soon, honest" CYMA CM.048 and CM.048M... how can it be over £40 cheaper to get one imported from Poland when you add in postage (free from Poland ffs)? These are not niche items. If you don't want an M4, or you do want an opfor gun, they are the best available as an alternative to wombat machines. But with Airsoft World and Action Hobbies muscling in, somehow none of 'em are managing to keep CYMA/Cybergun in stock reliably.

 

But there are distributors, like a good bloke who is into airsoft for the love of it as well as making a few quid who supplies ammo and pyros to a fair few sites, probably most in the East Mids/South Yorks, as well as some guns and spares... but he is pretty limited in what he gets and it's for the reasons already outlined: he just hasn't got the capital to keep stock on the shelves which may not sell before he needs to scrape his cash and pre-orders together for the next import. Also there isn't enough money in it for him to do nothing else to make a living. Another company, made up of people who came into it from love of the sport/hobby and have translated that now into literally the best customer service ethic I've ever come across bar none, genuinely do do their best to get anything people ask for and if you talk to them in person will attempt to beat any price you can show them is legit, but... they don't have the spending power of even the small time 'distributors' or the larger retailer-cum-distributors.

 

So we are currently stuck between people who would love to have piles of whatever we want and sheds full of old/rare stuff that they themselves would dip into frequently, but just don't have the money to do that, and people who may well have had a love of the sport/hobby but in trying to make a living now come over as if they would simply love to have sheds full of our money. In my estimation our only way forward is to grow the market... paintball has made several multi-millionaires - airsoft is slowly but surely taking over the 'combat shooting game' market so it has the potential to become huge, but it also has the potential to get very expensive, if a few larger companies manage to raise the kind of capital which would deliver the stock levels we would prefer but the market does not grow as rapidly as forecast...

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Don't forget Gunfire and Taiwan do free P&P over a certain ammount. If you want a gun you are already in the free zone. Anything else just order when you want enough to go over the limit or suck it up, It was £12 last time I ordered

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yes i agree its frustrating having run and worked for online companies its hard as you sell you items over different avenues you still sell items you do not have but if you are unsure always best to email. I am always happy to double check.

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This is a very very frustrating problem but it doesn't just happen in airsoft. It happens in most small/custom markets. The bigger the market the more something becomes avaliable. I once was looking for a custom part once in another unrelated hobby which was shown in stock on over 15 websites yet when I actually spoke to the manufacturer in person he said only 2 of these items had left the factory!!! Clearly a lot of suppliers were happy to bullshine

I appreciate retailers want to show they 'can' get something in rather then not list it at all but the simple remedy to this is to just be honest and show the approximate delivery time. Customers really appreciate honesty from retailers. A lot of the time we have to save up anyways so the wait won't kill us to be fair

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Scale of market is not an excuse for poor trading practices.

 

And scale wise, we have 8500ish member here on one forum. Granted not all are unique, or uk based, but it's still a significant number compared to other hobbies for example para gliders or wakeboarders.

 

Look at the airbana map, you are rarely more than an hour from a site anywhere in the uk, give or take Scotland. There are significantly more places to play airsoft than race tracks, yet the track day industry is worth millions.

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Online Fishing tackle dealers are the same, all claim to stock everything in every line but apart from two or three big sites they never have any.

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Trust me 8500 on this forum sounds big but in the grand scheme of things that's minuscule. Take hobbies like fishing, gym, custom cars and bicycles, caravans and camping.... I can guarantee you my months wage that if you round up 100 random people there will be some from each of the above but I'd be surprised to see an airsofter. Even then go to whsmiths and look at the mag section.... You will see two mags for airsoft but 24 for cars, 16 for gym (inc womens). The best example of just how small airsoft is is against the computer games market! For every RIF we buy there are 1000 times more consoles sold even though they are around the same price

Now you might appreciate how small airsoft actually is. When you are involved in airsoft and everything around you is dominated by it it feel big but in reality it's tiny (but growing well). I'm not saying this is an excuse for retailers to do what they do but overall it's something the market at this size will suffer from

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Trust me 8500 on this forum sounds big but in the grand scheme of things that's minuscule. Take hobbies like fishing, gym, custom cars and bicycles, caravans and camping.... I can guarantee you my months wage that if you round up 100 random people there will be some from each of the above but I'd be surprised to see an airsofter. Even then go to whsmiths and look at the mag section.... You will see two mags for airsoft but 24 for cars, 16 for gym (inc womens). The best example of just how small airsoft is is against the computer games market! For every RIF we buy there are 1000 times more consoles sold even though they are around the same price

Now you might appreciate how small airsoft actually is. When you are involved in airsoft and everything around you is dominated by it it feel big but in reality it's tiny (but growing well). I'm not saying this is an excuse for retailers to do what they do but overall it's something the market at this size will suffer from

Funny how there are genuinely about 30 magazines on really obscure, niche stuff (even though airsoft is niche too) like...model powerboat racing...or remote controlled railways etc. I find it hard to believe there is much of a market for that stuff, and yet all the airsoft magazines are literally hidden right at the back on the bottom shelf.

 

I know they have everything categorised and properly positioned but if they actually rotated some of their stock around (annoying as it can be when you're trying to find something) then people would pay more attention to new things rather than classical yacht owner or crochet monthly or whatever is always there yet that nobody buys. :/

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