11 Jan Shipping and Supply Chain
It’s no surprise that the last few years have been a challenge, but one we look to overcome and come out stronger having gone through it. Our industry has seen challenges like overseas supply chain delays, right from factory closures, to port capacity restrictions, to domestic importing delays, rail delays, custom delays and inventory shortages. But it is not all doom and gloom! We wanted to write this bog to share some of the experiences we have had over the last couple of years to forecast what we might see in 2023, and how we can set everyone up for success now with their projects in 2023! I’ve highlighted three main areas here with the solutions you can see we have!
Challenge– Overseas Shipping delays: Even though we are seeing increased production capacities and decreased restriction overseas, we do continue to face delays and backlog as we head into 2023. Where an imported order might usually take 6-10 weeks to come into Canada, we are now seeing this as closer to three times that timeline, or sometimes even more. The reality is that the ports, especially in Canada, are facing some of the work back logs that we’ve ever seen. Even if the order ships from China and arrives to the ports in Vancouver, it can take weeks or even months after that for it to get through the ports, on the rails and through customs.
Sigma’s Solution: If you are looking for a larger imported order, let’s start planning now, or as soon as you know about it! Many times we do larger imported orders by sea to keep costs down, but some overseas manufacturers have air options to void the prolonged delays on the ocean, and at the ports. You may pay a bit more for this option, but sometimes it is worth it! Or, you would pay for a portion of your order to ship air and the rest go by ocean. The other option, would be if it is a last-minute delay that was unanticipated (ugh, the worst kind) and the goods have been produced and we’re just waiting for them to clear through ports and customs, we could produce a smaller batch of something domestically, just so you have something in time for your event.
Challenge: Low/fluctuating Stock levels domestically: With delays at the ports, we aren’t the only ones suffering from delayed orders – our manufacturers that warehouse all of the domestically decorated products face the same things when they are waiting on their containers of goods to arrive. We just can’t get inventory back stocked on the shelves as fast as we once could. As accurate as we try to be with sharing inventory, we have seen things can change very quickly. This is caused in part because a client might usually import their large quantity orders, but with unease around shipping, ports and customs delays from overseas, they are placing their orders domestically, purchasing larger quantities of products from stock housed in North America.
Sigma’s Solution: At Sigma, we work with hundreds, if not thousands of vendors and suppliers that we partner with to find you the right product. We know how frustrating it can be when the item you finally chose is out of stock by the time you place the order. We have this wide network of suppliers so that if it does happen, we can do our best to find the next best possible/most similar item to the one you originally chose. We also have the option to wait for new stock to arrive if it’s not a rush!
Challenge: Increased Production Times: Pre-pandemic, typically turnaround times for domestically decorated products was usually about 2 weeks. We have seen this timeline steadily creep up to closer to the 3 even 4-week turnaround time recently. Many manufacturers are facing difficulty finding enough people to staff their production, and thus are limited to the man power they have.
Sigma’s Solution: We do have a number of trusted manufacturers that have rush production capabilities that can turn orders around quickly and efficiently. If you have a tighter timeline, or a critical in hands date, always be sure to let you Sigma Sales rep know so we can find the best and most reliable solutions for your project.
No matter what the challenge is, no matter what, we will always work with you to find a win-win solution. We will always be fully transparent with the information we have, provide updates, and alternatives and solutions should the situations call for it!