See part one about holiday planning here
In early September I sat down to order all of my packaging for the holidays and crossed my fingers. My normal timing is to wait until October to order shipping supplies for the holidays.
It’s one part a cash flow issue (September can be a slow sales month) and one part space considerations – in a downsized studio space, I run out of storage for the bulkier containers pretty quickly.
But this year is different, so I moved up my ordering dates to September.
I couldn’t deny that I needed all of my packaging and I needed it soon. I was down to barely enough gift boxes to limp through to the end of the year, a half a spool of my favorite ribbon, and I did not have enough of my very specific cardboard shipping boxes left.
I’m one of the luckier ones – my ribbon was only backordered for 2 weeks, my shipping boxes had only gone up by 5%, and the specific gift box that I order was no longer available in the color that I had been using for more than 6 years, but I was able to find a color that would work well enough to get me through the holidays.
Scroll down to see your holiday prep checklist
Who else is seeing delays?
The disruptions in the worldwide supply chain amount to some minor changes and inconveniences to my business, for others the disruptions have created even bigger issues.
Alana Rivera, CEO of Etta and Billie – a handmade soap company, told me about her shortages over the past year:
“Pump tops! Our lotion and body wash bottles were fine, but there was a huge shortage of the pump tops that we used. I found a source for new tops, but then had to change our bottles. In the long run, this wound up being a positive change, but it was a change that I wasn’t expecting to have to deal with and we had to make choices on the fly.”
There’s another advantage that the jewelry industry has – our raw materials are small, and don’t necessarily require large shipping containers to transport.
For Alana’s company, her raw materials are shipped in from overseas and in bulk. Lots of it was stuck in a cargo container or otherwise delayed because her raw materials (think shea butter) need to be processed after harvesting.
And since a lot of supply chain issues are actually labor issues, labor shortages and shut downs anywhere can disrupt global systems.
On top of supply chain disruptions, extended shipping times for USPS first class mail have already been announced, and this is the shipping method that so many of us rely on in order to be able to offer free or low-cost shipping to our customers. This leaves us with the possibility of even slower than normal shipping and delivery times for the upcoming holiday season.