The ongoing supply chain crisis has created unpredictable conditions for manufacturers, logistics companies, retailers, and consumers on a global scale. Fueled to a large degree by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and the government shutdowns that followed, the economy has been plagued by labor and equipment shortages, delays at major ports, rising prices, and limited space at commercial warehouses. With the holiday season approaching, additional delays and disruptions are likely.
Almost every industry relies to some extent on transportation and logistics, especially during the holiday season when demand for a variety of goods and services increase substantially. Throughout the crisis, one thing has become clear: businesses that have planned ahead and adapted their logistics strategies to navigate evolving supply chain constraints have fared better.
Don’t wait and react to holiday supply chain issues after they’ve already taken hold. Prepare now and adjust your operations and logistics strategies to get a head start!
Useful Ways to Avoid Holiday Supply Chain Constraints
In a crisis, resilience and flexibility are essential. Companies that are able to adapt to changing supply chain constraints and market conditions will come out on top. It’s no secret that sales during the winter holidays are incredibly important to the success of individual businesses and the overall health of the economy.
Here are a few specific ways you can adjust your business strategies this holiday season in order to limit the impact of supply chain constraints and disruptions:
Create a detailed holiday plan, but be prepared to change it.
Planning ahead can help mitigate risk and prevent delays in responding to sudden changes in supply chain conditions. It’s always good to have a plan of action. But in unpredictable times like these, any holiday plan you create should be thought of as fluid and subject to change.
It’s a good idea to read up on economic and industry news and stay up-to-date on environmental, political, and social factors that may impact your supply chains. It’s also helpful to review any historical sales data you have saved in order to try to predict holiday patterns and trends specific to your business. One of the primary causes of supply chain crises is unforseen spikes in demand. That’s why doing what you can to predict specific demand trends can help mitigate risk. If possible, also consider setting aside an emergency/holiday budget that you can tap into if unforeseen issues arise.
Diversify your suppliers and manufacturing partners.
Most finance and stock-market experts will tell you that diversification is essential to protecting your assets from risk. If your investment portfolio is diversified across a variety of asset classes and sectors, a decrease in one of your holdings is unlikely to cripple your entire strategy. Similarly, diversifying your list of manufacturers and suppliers can protect your operations against supply chain disruptions when they occur.
Regardless of how reliable your sources have been in the past, it’s a good idea to work with multiple suppliers, or at least keep a list of backup suppliers that you can turn to in an emergency – or when demand for certain products suddenly increases, which is common during the holidays. When supply chains are unpredictable and unreliable, it is beneficial to use a diverse group of suppliers – even if this leads to slightly higher costs – in order to avoid a potentially catastrophic situation in which your sole supplier goes out of business or struggles to fulfill their obligations.
Hold excess inventory, where possible.
Before the holiday season arrives, create a stockpile of essential supplies that will help you continue to fulfill orders and meet deadlines during a season of disruptions and supply chain constraints. Depending on your industry and business model, this may mean storing finished products, components, raw materials, or some combination of the three. Maintaining excess inventory protects you against holiday disruptions, but it’s also a long-term strategy that can help get you through a crisis in the future.
Plan for limited supply of specific items (like microchips).
Some supply chain constraints are not possible to predict – but others are, and you can prepare for their impact on your business. For example, you’ve likely heard about the global microchip shortage that has impacted the market for a wide variety of products, from smartphones, to TVs, to gaming consoles, to cars, to children’s toys. Many of these products are major sellers during the holidays.
Plan ahead, place orders with suppliers ahead of time, and stockpile goods that require microchips and other products that are facing input shortages. Also explore alternatives where possible. While silicon microchips are unlikely to be replaced any time soon, there are a few viable alternatives to silicon on the horizon. Keep an eye out for existing and upcoming alternatives that may save you money, protect you from future supply chain disruptions and shortages, and help you carve out a competitive advantage.
Work with a third-party logistics company.
One of the most effective strategies for withstanding supply chain issues involves decreasing logistics costs and streamlining your operations by working with a reliable third-party logistics company. Not only can this help save you money, but it also limits risk – especially during the notoriously busy and hectic holiday season. For example, a high-quality logistics company can offer you:
- Increased security
- Reliable freight transportation and on-time deliveries
- Integrated warehousing and order-fulfillment services
- Expert advice and industry knowledge
- Inventory monitoring and management
- Time-and cost-saving logistics strategies, such as cross-docking/transloading and air-freight delivery and pick-up
What products will be in high demand this holiday season?
While there are always a few surprises, there are some products that we can be fairly certain will experience a major increase in demand when the holidays roll around. Here are a few items that are predicted to be hot sellers during the holidays:
- Gaming consoles
- Home-gym equipment and exercise machines
- Children’s toys and games
- Stainless-steel tumblers
- Space heaters
- Heated blankets
- Humidifiers and air purifiers
- Home-office supplies
What caused the supply chain crisis?
The supply chain constraints that are currently impacting the economy were caused by multiple, interconnected factors. There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated government restrictions played a pivotal role in these disruptions. Over time, the shutdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods led to labor and equipment shortages, unforeseen increases in consumer demand (and a preference for online ordering), and port congestion and delays at docks.
What are the benefits of outsourcing logistics?
Working with a reliable third-party logistics company can help save you time, money, and stress in both good times and bad. Here are some of the primary advantages of outsourcing your logistics:
- Maximize flexibility and scalability
- Gain expert insight from logistics experts
- Reduce indirect costs
- Get help with customs
- Minimize risk with improved security and inventory management
- Take advantage of specialized services
Prepare for Holiday Logistics & Shipping with Bridgetown Trucking
At Bridgetown Trucking, we know how stressful the holidays can be for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike. The holiday season is always busy and hectic, but working with a trusted logistics company like Bridgetown Trucking can help you simplify your operations and let us handle the tough stuff so you can focus on what you do best!
Our amazing teams are here to help you with all your holiday logistics needs at our locations in Portland and St. Louis. We have a proven record of getting the job done right, and we always prioritize the security of your goods and ensure we meet our deadlines – during the holidays and beyond!
Reach out to us today to let us know how we can best serve you!