Across the world, the long-tail effects of COVID-19 continue. A couple of the most immediate repercussions for those in the print on demand business are the ongoing shortages in labor as well as raw materials.
These are both issues that the Gooten team has flagged before, noting key macroeconomic trends such as rising labor costs as well as constraints to the supply line. Gooten’s Supply Chain Officer, Andy Nied and Director of Logistics, Andrew Brueckner have also shared insights into how we are managing supply chain risks to improve issue visibility ahead of time in order to build greater resilience and support our partners during the holiday rush.
Today, we want to take a closer look at these issues, and provide some clarity about how they may impact our print on demand partners. We will also go over solutions that can help your print on demand business navigate these disruptive times.
What We Expect
Let’s begin by outlining what Gooten’s print on demand manufacturing experts anticipate as we head into the final months of the year.
Simply put, during Q4 of 2021, we expect to see continued supply chain disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here in the United States, we know that many ports continue to see record-breaking backups due to COVID-related protocols and labor shortages. Raw materials that are still on the water could be delayed and create shortages and stockouts that will ripple across many product categories. Predicting specifically which businesses or industries will be affected is impossible, but we believe the effects will be widespread.
At the same time, labor shortages are widespread overseas and in the US across all industries, from retail and restaurants to manufacturers and freight carriers. Many package delivery companies are reporting that large hub facilities are still operating well below capacity even as demand is surging, due to labor shortages and social distancing requirements. In addition, many are adding surcharges during peak holiday season.
These trends are all hurdles that print on demand manufacturers and merchants will need to contend with, but thankfully, we think there are some strategies that can help mitigate the risk of major disruption, right as the holiday shopping season hits.
Guidelines for Gooten Partners
Here’s what we would recommend to print on demand companies looking to minimize risk.
- Be flexible. The first piece of good news is that Gooten’s network is designed to route orders to those manufacturers who do have the right materials in stock. We are not limited to one source or one factory. With that said, it should be assumed that we will still run into issues with certain colors and sizes of items that will periodically be unavailable. We invite our customers to work with the support team and your partner managers to understand what alternatives there are, and to understand what the approved substitutions are for products to ensure we can quickly swap to a similar item that is more readily available. We are here to help!
- Incentivize customers to get orders submitted early. Last year there was a lot of press around the impending “shippagedon” package delivery problem ahead of peak season. We don’t believe the shipping crisis will be as bad this year as it was in 2020, but we do think that with the labor and materials issues, plus possible carrier delays, it’s best to allow as much time as possible for manufacturing and delivery. All of the major carriers – USPS, UPS, Fedex are not guaranteeing any specific delivery times this year, so encourage your customers to make their holiday purchases sooner rather than later!
- Emphasize education and awareness. We all realize that things aren’t quite back to normal yet. We need to ensure that wherever possible we are informing customers of the continued supply chain issues and being candid with them that few industries will be spared. This messaging should go out across your website, the checkout process, emails, blogs, social, etc.
The bottom line: In the event of any disruptions, you can always rely on your Order Management Dashboard for your latest and most up to date order info or reach out to our Support team with any questions. 2021 will throw us some curveballs, but by choosing to work with Gooten’s multi-source network, and to properly align customer expectations, you can certainly set yourself up for a successful holiday season.
List of resources:
- [Gooten Website] Holiday 2021
- [Gooten Support Center] Holiday Order Submission Guidance
- [Gooten Support Center] Current Production & Shipping Times
- [Blog Post] 8 Economic Market Trends That Will Impact Your Business
- [Webinar Recap] Manage Supply Chain Risks Proactively: A Guide to Shipping & Production
- [Press] Washington Post: Start Holiday 2021 Shopping Early