We will go to China to make sure we have enough stock


Supply chain issues have resulted in shortages of everything from pet food and Christmas trees to toilet paper and baby gear. Large retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot were able to charter private cargo ships to stock their shelves. In an extreme case, the beanie babies maker chartered more than 150 flights from China to bring the stuffed toys to the United States and bypass port congestion. But these are expensive solutions that small businesses can’t always afford.

In order to ensure that they had enough products to satisfy customers, small businesses had to be creative in reducing delays where they could. In some cases, this involved traveling to China to pick up orders directly from the factory. In others, it has led them to open their own warehouses in the United States to bypass California port congestion.

Pish Posh Baby, an online baby supplies store with a physical location in New Jersey, used to occasionally pick up products in China. He did this as a way to save money as manufacturers sometimes offered discounts for pickup direct from their factories. But with the current bottlenecks in the supply chain, travel to China has taken on an entirely different focus.

“Now, a lot of times manufacturers don’t have the margins to give discounts, so we go to China just to get products,” said Charlie Birnbaum, COO of Pish Posh Baby. “We don’t save money and we do it more often. “

We’re going to China just to get the product. We are not saving money.

Birnbaum said that by bringing in containers of produce himself, Pish Posh Baby was able to have more control over distribution, getting items to customers faster than they would otherwise.

“We normally rely on the US distributor to pick up the products in China and bring them to their warehouse. Then we would place an order, they would send it to us, it would go to our warehouse and then to the customers, ”Birnbaum said. “What we’re doing now is placing a larger order and bringing it straight to our warehouse. “

Pish Posh Baby is not the only one in this case.

According to owner and CEO Ryan Gunnigle, Kids2, a toy maker that owns multiple brands including Baby Einstein, has seen increased demand from retailers looking to purchase items direct from its factories in China. In total, he had 10 major retailers who asked him to do just that.

He also helped partners secure items they struggled to keep in stock, such as computer chips.

“Retailers are looking to large companies like ours to help them solve some of the supply chain challenges,” said. “A retailer came to us and told us we could work with you and increase our demand by 30% with you. Conversations like this have taken place four or five times.

Gunnigle said he saw where things were heading early on and was lucky his company already had a strong footprint in China before the supply chain began to recover.

“Having the local infrastructure has allowed us to increase our response times and seize more opportunities,” Gunnigle said. “But we really had to change the way we work; we have weekly supply and demand meetings. We actually have so much inventory in the supply chain and you don’t want to end up with too much or too little.

He said it was a good balance because, even with the infrastructure Kids2 has in China, if the company ran out of stock, it would take about six months to replace it.

If the company were to run out of stock, it would take about six months to replace it.

Indeed, even though companies can actually source the products directly from China and pay the cost of their transportation to the United States, there are backlogs waiting in American ports. Ships idle offshore in ports along California. Once ships are able to dock and unload their freight containers, these containers pass through port processing centers, awaiting tagging and pickup by shippers.

Due to ongoing issues, this process can now take weeks instead of days, according to Levi Conlow, CEO of Lectric eBikes. When the delays were at their worst in February and March, Conlow said from the time the inventory arrived at the port, it took five to six weeks to reach him.

“The third-party logistics and distribution centers in Los Angeles have been inoperable, they don’t have the bandwidth to get things out,” Conlow said.

Lectric e-bikes have struggled to stay in stock and meet demand long before the current supply chain collapsed. As a result, Conlow used to pivot quickly. When things started to get crowded at ports earlier this year, he began to set the stage to forgo the Los Angeles port processing system entirely and acquire his own warehouses.

“Trying to have stock has always been a challenge. We have never been spoiled by simplicity or a sane world, ”said Conlow. “We realized we had to leave LA. We brought satisfaction internally to Phoenix in August. In 30 days, I became a stock business.

The dramatic steps taken by small businesses to stay in stock and meet demand shows just how much pressure the supply chain is still putting on these retailers. As Birnbaum noted, there are “issues all the way from sourcing materials to delivery to our customers in the United States.”

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