Why Supply Chain Delays Happen and How eCommerce Stores can Cope
Breaking down the supply chain woes
Is your eComm store currently experiencing some issues related to shipping delays? Have you heard from a few anxious customers, inquiring about estimated delivery times? Have you heard the term “supply chain” more than 50 times over the last month?
Then this article is for you!
We will break down the supply chain issues currently affecting…well, pretty much EVERYthing, and provide some tips to mitigate the corresponding headaches. This way, you and your eComm store will be better informed — and better prepared — to deal with similar issues in the future.
Supply shortges and bottlenecking?
The only time we want to see a “Delayed” notice is when the In-Laws are being shipped to us, AMIRIGHTORWHAT? What’s that? In-laws humour is no longer in fashion? Well, then I will toss my jokes out, right along with their absurdly outdated outfits… Got ’em again!
As with all complex problems, there is not one single explanation, but instead a combination of equally contributing factors. Having said that, we can certainly mention a few of the main causes:
The first and most obvious reason is the COVID 19 pandemic, which affected all industries in numerous ways. Within all the issues that COVID 19 caused, the one which contributed the most to the supply chain crisis is arguably the labor shortage. Every single step in the supply chain has been impacted by this — from the ports, to the movement of shipping containers en route, all the way to the trucking industry.
There are currently shortages for all kinds of things — from the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles, down to plastic caps for bottles. A delay in even the smallest parts can quickly disrupt the greater whole, and we are seeing some of our clients experiencing delays on parts and supplies of up to 36 weeks. You can grow a whole baby in that time!
What Products are most affected?
My milkshake brings all the ships to the (ship)yard
The greatest impact is for anything that involves overseas shipping. Due to the unprecedented costs for shipping containers, in addition to the backlogs at the ports, we are advising all clients to pad out their inventory on hand to account for delays and added costs.
In the past year, we have seen the cost to ship a container increase 10x. This makes it extremely difficult to adequately forecast and assist. Our goal is to make sure that we can offload and receive goods in the most efficient way, in order to avoid additional costs resulting from demurrage or other timing delays.
How can store owners best prepare to overcome shipping delays and product shortages?
Tik tok, on the clock, but the shipping delay party don't stop now
- Keep a keen eye on current stock. Even in the best of times (remember those?) it’s absolutely essential to know what you have in stock, at what rate it’s moving, and when it needs replenishing. Have a certain product that’s easier to keep in stock than others? Focus your marketing efforts there to relieve some stress off products that have more volatile stock.
- Improve supply chain visibility. As best you can, track your products in real-time, every step of the way—from raw materials to final products. With comprehensive insights, you can better spot potential problems ahead of time and change course if needed.
- Get creative and look into alternatives. Research and create a list of alternative suppliers and products (bonus points for factoring in different geographical locations!) This way, you’ll be able to maintain stock even if a certain supplier is unable to fulfill your needs.
- Be upfront with your customers. Customers don’t want to be surprised, expecting something to arrive in a few days and having to wait months. Be transparent with your customers and let them know about potential delays and disruptions. Offering discounts, bundling, or freebies could help soften the blow (and keep Karens at bay.)
If 2021 has taught us anything (besides, of course, that we should LOSE ALL HOPE AND EMBRACE DESPAIR), it’s to be proactive, be flexible, and be ready for all hell to break loose at a moments notice. But remember, we’re all in this together.
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