Sourcing promo products from China or overseas in 2021?
Way back in Feb 2020 we wrote our first article about the Coronavirus impact and how it might affect orders of promotional merchandise in the coming months. And here we are, over a year later, STILL talking about it.
Anyone planning to order promotional products and branded merchandise from overseas in the next 12 months should (probably) read this.
What are the main issues causing delays?
Port Congestion: Whilst there has been some big improvements over the past few months, with industrial action by the two major terminals being resolved, things are still moving slower than ‘normal’. High demand for goods globally, combined with COVID-19 impacts of the labour work force, have resulted in a backlog of containers waiting to be exported out of China (as well as congestion at other ports around the world including New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the US). So, even though Australian ports are operating more efficiently, the issues overseas have created shipping days of around 4+ weeks approx.
Vaccine Priority: The good news is that the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to be rolled out in Australia. The unexpected downside of this, from a commercial point of view, is that flights carrying the vaccine are being given priority. This means that your branded merchandise might take a little longer to arrive, or the associated costs may rise if you need your products in a hurry.
Cancelled Flights: Border closures and a slump in air-travel demand has seen airlines grounding passenger flights. This is having a knock-on effect for commercial freight that often piggybacks on these flights. As recently as last week, two major airlines cancelled all flights which saw prices quoted for air-freight items increase by as much as 50% (yes, really!)
What does this mean for promotional merchandise coming to Australia?
Delays are likely. Things might not go according to plan.
How should businesses who have events, activations and promotional marketing planned for 2021 prepare?
Plan Ahead: With a multi-tiered supply chain, even limited delays at different stages means we are strongly advising our clients to allow for a 2-4 week contingency plan for any products they plan to order.
Think Local: If you do need merchandise fast and if the size of order, type of product and budget allows then we would suggest working with one of our 400+ local suppliers. They currently have good stock levels, with merchandise that can be branded locally and delivered in shorter time frames.
Be Careful About Sourcing Direct: Whilst it can be tempting to cut costs by sourcing direct from one of the thousands of commodity merchandise suppliers online, we would urge caution. Being reliant on one supplier and without supply-chain transparency getting a clear understanding of stock levels, availability and delivery timelines can mean your products are delayed further still.
Work with a trusted supplier: The massive disruption in global supply chains in addition to the shipping issues closer to home has highlighted how important it is to work with experienced suppliers. Seek out partnerships with companies that prioritize supply-chain strategy and who can provide you with a selection of overseas and local suppliers to best meet your needs. Ensuring your supplier works with a reputable/trusted freight forwarder will help minimise delays as their influence is key for securing vessel bookings. By using a trusted supplier you will be best positioned to not only meet customer deadlines but also control costs that could jeopardise your bottom line.
At Inck, we are in the business of making branded merchandise EASY – so feel free to get in touch so we can help you with your promotional merchandise needs into 2021 and beyond, whether it’s sourcing promo products in China or finding local suppliers.
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