21 Aug 2020 How to Avoid Year End Delivery Problems for E-Commerce Packaging
Plan Now for Holiday Packaging Needs
Those who know us are familiar with our year end outlook for DTC packaging needs. While we usually err on the side of caution because some people are going to run out of packaging this year, it should not be the people depending on us. This year we are being extra careful, (or pessimistic as some may say) and we are earlier than usual with this annual post because of all the uncertainty caused by the Corona Virus and the extensive negative impact on manufacturing and on transportation.
The Calendar is Not Helping Online Sellers
This year Christmas and New Year’s both land on Friday. That means that many companies are likely to shut down from Thursday, December 24th through Monday, January 3rd. With closure for ten consecutive days, there will probably not be many opportunities for last minute fill-in orders. This year end shutdown is certain to also impact production schedules into at least mid-January as plants play catch-up.
If you need packaging mid/late December, do not be surprised if the earliest you can get it is mid-January.
Many companies are still operating with reduced staffs. Some of it is intentional because lay-offs and closures forced manufacturers to send good people home. In many cases, it is people not coming back to work because of legitimate health concerns and fears. In others it is because people prefer being home with their families and government support programs are making it easier to do so.
There is no doubt very few manufacturing plants are staffed today as well as they were at the beginning of this year. With all the uncertainty in health and economy, companies are not eager to hire new people to fill the available openings, and frankly, people are afraid to take on new positions with new employers.
Trucking delays and costs
Every major truck line is blaming a shortage of people and equipment for delays in delivery. You may have to plan for 4 to 5 days for shipping, not the 2 to 3 days you have counted on before the pandemic. In addition to these issues, road closures, protests and even embargos may determine what freight moves and what does not. If you are pressed for delivery, you may want to consider a “guaranteed” rate to make sure you receive what you need when you need it.
Freight rates are rising as all these problems come together but most industry people agree the problem is temporary, so if you want to avoid expedited, guaranteed rates, the obvious answer is to order early. If freight cost becomes a problem for you, let us know and we may be able to help you through this difficult time.
The Solution – Order Early and Order More
This year it is more important than ever before to order early and order in greater quantities than normal. Set up time at the plant is the same whether you order 2,000 or 4,000 boxes but that cost is amortized over the length of the run making 4,000 much less expensive per box compared to the smaller order. Equally important, the cost for shipping 4,000 is not double what it costs to ship 2,000 so there is a freight savings (per box) in addition to the lower box manufacturing cost.
Keep in mind items that historically have extended deliveries before the holiday season. The one that comes to mind for us is how unpadded paper mailer’s lead times rise from 4 weeks to 10 weeks or longer. It is an annual problem, due to the number of companies shipping apparel and other soft goods.
Record numbers of people will be avoiding the malls and shopping e-commerce. We know that there are companies who are going to simply run out of packaging this year. Our job is to make sure none of them are our customers.