Blog: On-Time Delivery—It’s a Constant Customer Relations Dilemma

Labor constraints, container shortages and increased pallet prices, oh my.

As we run towards the end of the year in the middle of the retail segment’s best-selling quarter, supply chain issues continue to plague the system. We hear daily about the difficulties in moving goods loaded onto container ships, rising container costs and bottlenecks at ports as cargo ships sit idle waiting to be unloaded.

Wooden pallets, which help pack most consumer goods for shipping, have nearly doubled in price recently, from $12 apiece to $21 apiece. Be sure to factor this into the calculator for future price increases if these are part of your shipping or receiving package.

Consumers are frustrated and tired of the wait.

During a festive holiday weekend in the South Carolina Lowcountry with a group of friends, the topic of home furnishings came up. The question: What is taking so long for this to happen? Why do we have to wait for it to happen here?

It became a constant refrain and a recurring topic at dinners and gatherings. A friend has now been waiting seven months for an outdoor rocking lounger and the estimated delivery month is March 2022. Another has around 25 weeks left of her estimated 27 week wait for an outdoor sofa. Yet another friend who imports steel bemoans the cost and shortage of containers and the struggle to get the materials to her customers who are overwhelmed with demand.

Yes, they hear the constant news stories about increasing demand and its impact on supply, labor market difficulties and all the other factors that play into the scenario. At the cerebral level, they understand it. However, that doesn’t make the wait any less painful.

There’s always someone in the circle who mentions that their holiday shopping, despite the constant din of supply chain challenges, was an easier experience than usual. The stores are less crowded; the online experience has become more intuitive and user-friendly. And, oh by the way, things are dispatched in a timely manner with little to no hiccups.

It becomes a vicious circle of conversation that often comes back to one key question.

If we are able to get gifts under our trees in a timely manner, why, oh why, can’t we get the furniture or mattresses that we have purchased arrived, in some cases there is up to a year, in our homes?

It’s a customer relationship dilemma that requires constant conversation, constant updates, and a lot of hands-on experience with these sometimes patient, sometimes not consumers.

I don’t have the answer, but what I do know is that once consumers receive the products they so early anticipated at home, they will love them. And hopefully, through ongoing conversations with their retailer of choice, these consumers will have established a solid relationship with these dealerships, which will result in return traffic and additional purchases in the future.

In the meantime, hang on; better days for logistics are coming. Maybe not as fast as we all hoped, but the sun is coming.

Joseph P. Harris