Why We Sold Out
What Happened When We Sold Out in March
This past March, we sold out of ZBiotics and had to shut down taking new orders until April. When it happened, we wrote this blog post about why we sold out. Though we’re back online, we decided to keep this post live (slightly edited) so people know what happened.
There are 2 primary reasons why we sold out:
- Our probiotic manufacturing partner shifted focus to COVID-19 vaccine development, requiring us to find a new manufacturing partner for our probiotic ingredient. Just when our new probiotic manufacturer was ready, our bottling partner experienced a COVID-19 outbreak at their plant, delaying production of finished bottles of ZBiotics.
- Despite shutting down practically all advertising for ZBiotics, demand for our product has been organically increasing. As a result, we ran out of inventory faster than expected.
Reason 1: COVID-19 and manufacturing
Mid-last year, the manufacturing partner we had been working with to produce our proprietary engineered probiotic – B. subtilis ZB183™ – shifted work at their facility to COVID-19 vaccine development. That was great for the world, but it meant that we had to find a new partner to help us produce ZB183, the key ingredient in ZBiotics.
That wasn’t easy. We use the same fermentation-based manufacturing process that the pharmaceutical industry uses to produce advanced therapeutics. And we're perfectionists, so we require high levels of expertise, extensive testing, and tight quality controls to ensure we're delivering a good product. Also, because ZB183 is so new and exclusive to ZBiotics, we can’t just buy it off the shelf from another supplier.
But thankfully, our search was successful. Over the past seven months, we’ve found and onboarded not one but two new, amazing manufacturing partners for ZB183 to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude. After extensive testing and onboarding, two weeks ago we received the first batch of newly manufactured ZB183 ingredient, quality-tested and ready to put into bottles. But just when we thought we were out of the woods, the same thing happened to our bottling partner that’s been happening to thousands of companies across the country...
Our bottling partner experienced a COVID-19 outbreak at their facility. Despite extensive precautions, many of their core team-members contracted the disease, bringing production plans to a halt.
At the time, the only thing that really mattered was that these people we’d worked with for years were fighting to get through it, and we were hoping and praying for them just as we are for everyone who encounters this terrible disease. In that context – and in the context of all the suffering and loss that’s already come from this pandemic – our own interests were of absolutely no consequence. Thankfully, since we wrote the original version of this blog post, the people there have all recovered, and while in some cases there are lingering effects, such as lost taste and smell, everybody is safe, which is all that matters.
Reason 2: Run on Current Inventory
During our search for new manufacturing partners, we shut down digital advertising for ZBiotics. We wanted to hold on to what material we had in order to meet the demand from our incredible base of loyal customers.
Still, though, pausing digital ads for over half a year wasn’t enough to avoid where we were in March. At the beginning of the year, we expected to have enough bottles on hand to keep our previous customers supplied until well into the spring.
But it was a busy few months. Word apparently was getting out, and we experienced an unexpected spike in demand from new customers discovering us for the first time. This was awesome and exciting, and we’re so grateful to our customers for spreading the word. In addition, holidays, celebrations, and cozy nights inside didn’t stop, so we saw demand from our current customers continue to rise as well.
All that unexpected demand meant we woke up one week in March to a nearly complete run on our stock, forcing us to temporarily stop taking new orders.
Thank you for your patience
While we’re back in stock now and hope never to face this situation again, we know that going out of stock was a frustration for many people. We want to thank you for your patience. For those of you who are not yet our customers, we are so sorry to make you wait longer to experience ZBiotics for the first time.
For those of you who were our customers already, we hated not being there for you. You are incredible people. Truly, you are an inspiring, fun, and straight-up impressive group of folks. Learning your stories and hearing about how ZBiotics helps you get more out of life is the highlight of every single day. Not being there felt terrible, and we’re working to make sure it never happens again.