Forbes magazine describes shippageddon as a term from late 2020 “describing a conflation of global supply chain issues that led many brands and retailers to be under-stocked or otherwise unable to fulfill customer demand for purchases last year.” The container crisis, which I wrote about in this blog in early April of this year, is just one element of this situation.

The global container situation has caused ocean transportation costs to skyrocket.  According to American Shipper, in July the rates for Asia to the west coast of the US were six times higher than a year ago. And they share this bad news: “The consensus among logistics executives is that the transportation crunch won’t ease before the Chinese Lunar New Year next February.”

But this year’s shipping challenges unfortunately don’t end at the dock. There are problems with train and trucking companies as well. And those selling online can expect “last mile delivery constraints” while trying to get purchases delivered to their customers.  According to Forbes, “UPS says that delivery demand during the 2021 peak season will exceed capacity by 5 million packages per day, pointing at a major discrepancy between supply and demand for online shopping capacity.”

The fact that online shopping is expected to exceed the ability of carriers to deliver the goods may be a boon for brick and mortar retailers – but only if you’ve planned ahead. Order early to avoid your customers finding their favorite products out of stock. Offer a pleasant and efficient shopping experience that makes shopping local more fun than shopping online. Even with continued masking due to the pandemic, you can make your store festive this season.

You may need to raise prices slightly to accommodate the freight surcharges that vendors are adding to their invoices. But hopefully customers won’t mind, especially if the added value of immediate gratification and friendly customer service makes their holiday shopping less stressful and more enjoyable.  

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder