At the start of 2020, it felt like the world suddenly stopped. Life completely slowed down and we were fearful of what was to come next. Masks became an everyday essential, businesses shut their doors, home was the new office, face-to-face now meant FaceTime, and toilet paper became the most popular, and nearly impossible, item to shop for. None of us could have ever imagined something like this would have happened, let alone have prepared for it.
As the world continues to try to get back to the fast-paced lifestyle it had before the pandemic, there is a struggle to keep up because the resources and means to do so are severely lacking. The demand for nearly everything has increased. Can you take a wild guess how the supply is compared to that demand? From empty store shelves and out-of-stock items, to longer shipping times and slower service—our fast-paced and convenient lifestyles may have picked back up again, but the world can’t quite keep up yet.
Retail and e-commerce companies worldwide are all currently facing a common struggle: the supply chain during a pandemic. Companies like ours place their orders for supplies, products, raw materials, whatever it may be—and it is expected that everything will be prepared and shipped in a timely and efficient manner. That was an ideal expectation...before the pandemic.
Now, there are higher demands to be made with even fewer workers to complete them. Necessary health and safety measures are in place to help prevent the spread of the virus, but unfortunately this slows down the process even more. High-volume shipping ports have been closed and shipping costs have sky-rocketed. Before the pandemic, shipping a merchandise container to the U.S. would cost $2,000 - $5,000. Now, it’s closer to $30,000, or $20,000 if you’re willing to let fate decide when your shipment comes in.
As consumers, you only have the perspective of how these supply chain issues affect you personally. You might have seen this with various out-of-stock items over the past few months: toilet paper, free weights or kettlebells, Gatorade, cat litter, cans of seltzer, cars and more. But what you don’t see is everything that happens before you try to purchase these out-of-stock items.
The increasing demands with fewer workers, fewer supplies and shipments that may sit at ports for months…these only scratch the surface of everything going on within the supply chain industry during the pandemic. Imagine the workers that are doing the physical labor to get these shipments ready. Small business owners not knowing when their next shipment will come in, when they can fulfill their orders and get back to all the messages waiting in their inbox, and asking the same question they wish they had the answer to themselves: where’s my stuff?
Or the high school employee stocking the shelves with the inventory the store fortunately does have, only to be confronted by an unfriendly customer who is aggravated that their specific brand of all natural organic vegan shampoo is out of stock. So while all of us, consumers and businesses alike, are waiting for our orders and out-of-stock items to come back, let’s take the time to appreciate what we have been able to get back since the start of the pandemic.
Kids are back at school and employees are back in the office. Back to dining in at restaurants, traveling, and actually being able to see a concert live in-person. Take a moment to appreciate these things, no matter how big or small, that give us this sense of normalcy and comfort that we felt before the pandemic. The pandemic took a lot from all of us, so it’s easy to lose sight of what we still have right in front of us. We are all doing the best we can and you never know what unseen struggles people are going through.So remember to be kind, be patient and stay safe.