It hasn’t been a pretty sight to see our craft supply chains dwindling the past few months. Many of our usual go-to places are facing shortages and this has directly impacted what we are able to offer our clients. That said, the holiday season is here and it is time to start your holiday planning, right now. The reason is simple:
We are currently facing global impacts to shipping that start with massive cargo vessels held up in ports all over without a means to unload them and extend to your personal craft room. Today, we’re going to walk you through shipping complications so you and your business can adapt, plan, and thrive this holiday season.
What’s going on with the global supply chain?
Every industry – from diet cola to semiconductors to spray paint to, yes, even our beloved craft stores – is facing supply shortages. The reason that every industry is impacted is this: think of the global supply chain as an extremely fine-tuned-yet-finicky machine. If even one speck of dust gets into the machine, it needs to be repaired. Well, the pandemic – with its shifting consumer shopping trends and workplace restrictions – has basically dumped an entire bucket of sawdust into the machine.
So, it’s not just our industry that’s feeling this impact. It’s just about every industry.
How will that impact my shop this holiday season?
The holidays throw a complicated wrench into things. During the rest of the year, you, personally, may have a business deadline (say, a wedding for mid-June). That doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.
But the holidays are different. Everything has to be out the door for everyone in time to arrive by late November or December – no ifs, ands, or buts. Everyone has a deadline. Which means that domestic shipping is about to be clogged up too. Specifically, you should expect the following:
- Estimated shipping delays lasting 4-6 weeks and beginning as soon as October 1st
- Price surges (10/3-12/26 for USPS, predicted but not announced for FedEx and UPS)
- NO guaranteed arrival dates by any mail carriers unless delivery is by air (and even this could be suspended for the holiday months)
This all paints a picture of an incredibly challenging holiday season for sola wood flower businesses.
How can I prepare my shop?
Never fear! There are still plenty of things you can do from late-September and on. We suggest the following strategies:
If you know about future crafting needs, especially for October, November, and December, get those orders in pronto. You know what they say: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The same goes for your Oh You’re Lovely and other supply orders!
Increase Your Prices
Discussing price increases with customers is never easy. But the truth is – that’s part of doing business. Think about how often streaming services email you telling you about a price adjustment. The same thing is happening here. If your costs of production are going up because of shipping on the supply procurement side, so too must your selling price. In turn, if you offer free shipping and fold that cost into your product pricing, you will want to ensure the adjusted and inflated shipping costs will be covered. Otherwise, your bottom line is taking a major hit.
Communicate changes early and often
Now, if you do adjust your prices, you will need to update your websites, social media, and anywhere else that lists your price. The “price increase” conversation is tough. The “price you saw on the website isn’t actually true” conversation? That’s way tougher.
How can I prepare my customers?
Your strongest strategies here will be proactivity and over-communication. In order to best prepare your customers for the coming holiday season, we suggest the following:
Start promoting holiday orders immediately
Your shipping is going to be delayed. And your customers are waiting on you. Your best bet is to open the lines of communication early in order to get your customers thinking about ordering early as well.
Give a deadline for holiday orders – BUT don’t give a guarantee
A deadline will help you forecast as much as humanly possible. But leave the guarantees at the door. If USPS, FedEx and UPS aren’t promising guarantees, then neither should you.
Share tracking information IMMEDIATELY
Not only will this show promptness and proactivity in communication, but it does absolve you of some things, so to speak. After all, if UPS has the package somewhere over rural Indiana when it is supposed to be in Florida, that’s not your fault. You’ve taken every action you can in communicating a shipment's whereabouts.
Check your messages consistently, and respond within 24 hours
Even if you have no updates, any response is better than ghosting your clients. Again, returning without news isn’t fun. But reliability in communication will take you a lot further if/when shipping woes calm down.
Finally, encourage your client to sign up for text/email alerts
Call this superstition regarding the fates of shipping, but sometimes if my package is “stuck” out in the ether, signing up for updates with the shipping carrier who is transporting my order will get things moving again. I cannot tell you why this works – only that it’s worked for me (and the rest of the OYL team!)!
And there you have it. This will be a holiday season like none other. But if you plan ahead and communicate ahead of time, you and your business should get through just fine.
Here’s to weathering the winter holiday storm together!