The grand engine of the United States’ economy is once again beginning to rev up in response to the winding down of the Coronavirus pandemic responses put in place during 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, that economic recovery is being frustrated by an unprecedented stumbling block: the global supply chain.
2021 marks the first year many Americans have heard the phrase ‘global supply chain’ outside of some economics classes they took back in college, and for good reason. Outside of some minor hiccups like longshoreman strikes and port shutdowns, global trade has been remarkably efficient at meeting demand despite increasing complexity over the past century.
As all the economies of the world simultaneously ground to a halt in early 2020, however, the market for imports plummeted, causing many global shipping companies to significantly scale back operations. As the panic receded and economies gradually began opening back up, demand for imports suddenly exploded, leaving many companies operating in the supply chain scrambling to meet demand.
This scrambling hasn’t slowed down over the first two quarters of 2021 – if anything, problems appear to be getting worse. Significant bottleneck events such as the Evergreen Suez Canal crisis and an increasing number of incidents and attacks involving manufacturing plants and critical infrastructure create more delays and material shortages by the week.
How do supply chain shortages affect the office furniture industry?
On a practical level for dealers and businesses that rely on imports, this disruption in trade has some dire consequences. Shortages in manufacturing materials, container space and even pallets are causing shipping rates to skyrocket.
Containers bound for L.A. have jumped from $3,100 this time last year to over $10,000, with similar shipments to New York jumping from $4,200 to over $13,000. Projects and sales that would normally take place on a month-to-month basis are either being delayed or shelved entirely until the global shipping system sorts itself out.
So what can businesses in need of more office furniture do to prevent weeks of delay in expanding or opening new offices? The consistent answer appears to be: planning, planning, planning.
Many dealers have not needed to plan out order fulfilment past more than a quarter or two in the past as global shipping hummed away efficiently, mostly out of sight and out of mind. With today’s environment, proactively planning as far out as possible is their best bet for mitigating delays and further disruptions.
This goes especially for the usual Q4 sales crush, as holiday shoppers cause companies to struggle keeping shelves stocked and inventories maintained even in normal supply conditions. For office furniture dealers, keeping a higher-than-normal amount of inventory of popular items and lines may prove the deciding factor in whether they meet yearly sales goals or if they fall victim to a supply chain that is pushed to its very limit.
Even without the extra pressure exerted by the holidays, the economy roaring back to life is causing many businesses to begin expanding their physical offices and office space. Many are looking to get online as quickly and efficiently as possible, which means many office supply companies are straining inventories that have already been stretched thin.
How can companies get their office furniture faster?
Dealers looking to plan ahead and keep inventory on hand that has a high expectation of selling in the immediate future would do well to examine what the current market is looking for and shifting consumer trends. With so many businesses looking for a quick return to their physical locations or a speedy expansion, sales for quickship items that retain their quality and customizability are exhibiting resilience as the recovery stretches on.
Creative Office Design’s quickship lines such as Office Star and System 2 are two examples proving to have lasting popularity. Companies looking to hit the ground running appreciate the quick turnaround time, quality and comfort of the furniture. Limited finish and material choices can be delivered as fast as 5 days where a few more options are available with a 10 day turnaround
With Office Star and System 2’s customizability, customers can provide their workspace with a specially designed aesthetic that their workers will enjoy that would normally only be available for those companies who special order their furniture sets. The quality and comfort are far above expectations for their price point, and best of all, they get to their destination in a matter of days rather than months.
Many experts are predicting that supply chains will not fully recover for quite some time – late 2022 or 2023 seems to be the best estimation. In the coming days, months, and years, dealers and sellers who plan their inventories accordingly stand to gain tremendously over competitors who stick to the same old ways.