I know most of us are still in summer mode, but we see all the signs indicating the season we love is indeed winding down. The kids are back in school which means the holidays are closer than we realize, especially with the long lead times and limited capacities that have become an annual event and may be even worse this year. What does that mean for you as an e-commerce shipper?
Why do lead times lengthen?
Some of the manufacturing plants we work with may do 50% or more of their annual business in the fourth quarter of the year. So many end up short of equipment and most importantly this year, short of labor. We predict that many will simply not be able to “gear up” with temps and other sources of seasonal help depleted.
Will this impact pricing?
Probably no rise in costs, typically only lead times are impacted. To the contrary, it is possible some packaging products will announce price DECREASES during the fourth quarter or first quarter next year. That could be good news to packaging buyers but keep in mind any downturn in pricing MIGHT fuel a larger than normal buy in and that is extra bad for lead times, especially on custom printed work which is the far greatest portion of our business.
What happens when things go bad?
Last year we received many calls in October and November for rush orders for additional packaging. That would seem like a good thing for us, unless everyone seems to be calling at the same time. When we absolutely must, we do have the ability to run product at a different or additional plant. Sometimes we help our customer buy time with unbranded mailer boxes or envelopes to satisfy and ship their orders until their branded packaging can be produced.
The fact is we have been doing this for a long time and we have grown to be incredibly creative and resourceful. There are very few problems you can possibly run into that we haven’t already seen and overcome with our decades of experience.
Getting past the Christmas crunch for e-commerce packaging
There are a few things you can do to help us help you:
Order early – our custom printed boxes currently ship within two weeks of receiving your final approved art. By early October standard lead time may be 4 weeks or longer. Our unpadded paper mailers last year ran at 4-week lead time until October when a couple of large customers placing large orders backed up product and lead time skyrocketed to 12 weeks almost overnight.
Order often – there is nothing wrong with ordering 2X products with one release of 1X for October delivery and an additional 1X quaintly for November. This plugs you into the production schedule, so order quantity increases, or decreases are easier to accommodate.
Order many – We fully understand the need and desire to minimize packaging inventory and costs. However, the economy remains strong and people are working, regardless of who you give credit for it. I think we can all count on a great, high growth e-commerce holiday season as we have for years. Think about the multiple release dates mentioned above. If you time them well, you should have time to cancel any unneeded packaging if it becomes necessary. If you need them, you are already in line to get them.
No one can predict the future but if the past is any indicator, we will all have a busy holiday season. That is great news, if you are ready for it. Call one of our branded packaging advisors at 630-551-1700 or contact us at www.SalazarPackaging.com so we can help you create a strategy to help you take advantage of what should be a great market and quarter to close out the year.