Product launches, promotions forced to take back seat to unraveling supply chain
The buzz at the recent Las Vegas Furniture Market had nothing to do with an exciting product launch, an expansive new showroom, or an appearance by an HGTV star.
The “thing” that had most people talking – in language sometimes punctuated by words we won’t repeat here – was the supply chain mess. And while several parts of the chain have come unhinged in recent months, it’s the inability of importers to easily get merchandise from their overseas factories to U.S. ports that is really driving people nuts.
For the most part, the factories are running wide open as they try to keep up with the huge demand for furniture. But the problems begin once the product has been built and is ready for shipment. Factories either (a) can’t find space for their containers on a cargo ship sailing to the U.S.; or (b) can’t locate enough of the actual containers they need to put on the ship.
And if they are lucky enough to clear those first two hurdles – often at quadruple the normal cost -- they’re likely to encounter long, long wait tines at U.S. ports before the containers can be unloaded and transferred to a trucking company or railroad. This is especially true at busy West Coast port such as Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland.
We’ve heard countless stories of cargo ships lined up outside port entrances for days waiting for a berth so they can be unloaded. Many of those containers are filled with furniture that’s badly needed in someone’s warehouse or home.
Zuo, whose furniture is built in a number of factories throughout the world, is hardly immune to this problem. But the company’s operations and logistics teams are working closely with the sales team to minimize disruptions in product flow and bolster the company’s in-stock position. They are the unsung heroes who are trying to keep everyone’s business on track until we get back to normal – whatever and whenever that may be.