Behind the Scenes: Stocking Gi Sizes
When will my size be in stock?
We get this question a lot. Keeping gis in stock has always been a challenge for us, from our first batch to today. As business owners, it’s one of those “good problems to have” scenarios, but we can also see how it can frustrating for our fans. While we continue to work to keep more sizes in stock more consistently, I thought a look under the hood of running a gi company might give you some insights.
Part of the challenge is stocking half-sizes. This means that when gis are in stock, you are more likely to find a gi that fits just right, but that also means that we have to stock 12 size variations rather than 5. When you factor in color variations (white, black, blue), that takes us to 36 gi variations. Then you can do some fun things with weave and weight variations to create different gi experiences, but that again multiplies the range of items you have in stock.
Today, we have 156 gi variations (or SKUs as folks in the retail world might call them).
At this point, if you own a gi company, you have a decision: You can do limited edition runs so that you can more accurately predict your inventory needs batch after batch, or you can try to stock your gis year-round. We chose year-round because we don’t want anyone to feel left out.
But that also means that we have to time our restocking shipments just right. Gi manufacturing takes between 8 and 10 weeks. From there, it takes 4 weeks for shipping. If the plan goes smoothly, you get a stock of gis on the shelves in 14 weeks, but importing product is often a rocky process. Customs is one thing—a process that sometimes feel like a lottery where we get a 3-day process with one shipment or a 3-week process for another shipment—but importing process can also mean dealing with some off-script challenges.
For example, when you work with imports long enough, you hear stories about natural disasters or wars or broken-down trucks or even pirates.
Yeah, pirates. Can you imagine some tough Somali pirate cracking open a shipping container full of panda gis?
The demand for Inverted Gear means that we are often placing another order before the previous order arrives in our store. We lean on our data as much as we can to make smart orders, but the BJJ community is growing, and that means that variety of people training is changing as well. With one order, 20 units of A3 Tall/Slim will sit in the warehouse for month. With the next where I decide to order 15 or less, they sellout within weeks of arriving.
Here is the breakdown of our most popular sizes:
It’s a typical bell curve distribution—for the most part—with A2 making up the bulk of the orders, but as you can see, the variation is significant. For us, seeing A0 and A00 sizes begin to sell more is especially exciting because that reflects the increase of women in the sport.
Picking the right sizes has been a learning process, and we are getting much better at it, and we are streamlining our manufacturing process. We are sorry about the inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience. We want to do right by you because your support means everything to us, so we are actively committed to smoothing out every stage of the panda process.
We’ll get your gi in stock as fast as we can. Promise!