Disruptions in the supply chain are completely out of your control and this past year your patience has been tested more than ever. We know how frustrating delays can be during your production. You run the risk of not even having product to sell in seasonally important moments on the calendar. Here's how your brand can be better prepared to navigate the supply chain in these uncertain times.
Plan for production delays
Production in a normal year typically has delays and hiccups that make you miss your shipping deadline, so in a pandemic those delays are pretty much a guarantee. To combat this, create a production timeline with extra cushion at each step. Assume the fabric will be late in getting to the factory. Add extra time for the factory to get the correct sample and then finish production.
Plan for out of stock materials
There is a huge possibility that the materials you originally wanted will not be available. We have mills today that cannot get the correct yarn for their materials until April! That means a domino effect for your whole production calendar. Start by asking the factory what they have in-stock (deadstock fabric). This way you are cutting out that piece of the supply chain and reducing what can go wrong. Next, you can ask them what suppliers they have locally to reduce the risk of shipping delays abroad. If you don't have good enough deadstock fabric or local supplier options, you need to think ahead and begin sourcing your fabric much further in advance.
If you're interested in sourcing deadstock fabrics, join our Deadstock District Community!
Produce more collections at a time
If your production is located very far away that shipping is a big strain on the environment, in addition to the higher risk of getting stuck in transit. By partnering with your factory you could order a couple collections at once and ship them all together. If you are planning this far in advance, you may also benefit from better pricing and produce during factory's slower seasons (in between the Spring and Fall rush). Or perhaps you buddy up with a brand producing in your facility or the same country and share a cargo container to save money and join forces.
Always update your customers
Odds are, your customers are experiencing similar delays from other brands they're shopping with so they know it's not your fault. But in times of supply chain volatility it's always best to over communicate. Set expectations low and over deliver. If you can't offer them exact shipping times because of the uncertainty of your suppliers, just remind them that things will come eventually and that you'll give them any answers that you have. Include a personal video message in their checkout page or thank you email that reminds them you are people too and you are working hard for them. Lastly, you can update your communication to be more focused on made-to-order or the benefits of supporting your brand versus Amazon so they see the value in their wait, rather than the disappointment of delays.
We hope 2022 will begin to find it's footing and smooth out our supply chain once more, but there's only so much you can do as a brand. The best is to over prepare and stay flexible. If you're looking for supply chain updates and other brand resources, sign up for our weekly newsletter now!