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Supply Chain Challenges Continue
The container crisis that led to problems in receiving timely deliveries of merchandise in 2021 is unfortunately not a thing of the past. In fact, most retail pundits are predicting that supply chain issues will be one of the top challenges facing us as we head into 2022.
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The same shortage of employees that is plaguing our shops is one cause. There are simply not enough workers to unload the merchandise arriving by ship, sort and load it, and truck it to its final destination. American companies are suffering from labor shortages in their factories, in addition to delays in getting materials or packaging that may be coming from overseas.
The key to avoiding empty shelves is good communication with your sales reps, vendors and sales agencies. While it’s tempting to write orders online on your own, you need to know what is in stock and when new shipments are expected. Our suppliers many not know the precise status of their inventory, but we can count on the best ones to provide us with the most current information possible.
If you attend trade shows this winter, you’ll have a chance to speak directly with some of your vendors to discuss the best approach to having a great selection for your customers throughout the year. Placing timed orders with future ship dates may be a good idea, along with using cancel dates for merchandise you don’t want to receive after its best selling period has passed. You can’t count on a vendor’s system to do this automatically — we’ve received advent calendars on Dec. 24!
According to the PODS for Business blog, “Supply disruptions will move brick-and-mortar stores to house extra inventory locally to avoid shelving shortages. Setting up temporary inventory warehouses for localized distribution will become an increasingly popular method for enterprise retailers.” Granted, this is not an unbiased source — PODS rents on-site and temporary storage. But stocking up on merchandise is another way to avoid running out, providing you have the financial resources.
If you don’t receive all the inventory you’d hoped for, this might be a good time to do a store remodel. Move shelving around, add splashes of color, redo your displays. What had been an empty shelf could become an inviting vignette, and a line that you hadn’t highlighted before might become a best seller. Do your best to turn 2022’s challenges into new opportunities.