In the wake of giant shipping company Hanjin’s bankruptcy is a mess that retailers across the country will be sorting out for weeks, if not months.
The South Korean company’s bankruptcy is forcing big chains to spend buckets of cash to get their goods from ports to warehouses in time for the busy holiday shopping season. Also, some small businesses could have less to offer this year because of this.
“Samsung had the most cargo on Hanjin ships by a long shot, with more than 8,000 container units of goods stacked on the vessels from August through the end of September, according to Datamyne, which tracks trade data. Other big names included Hanes, J.C. Penney, Microsoft, and Kmart”. Ashley Furniture also had about 900 containers on ships, plus had to find trucking companies to deliver all of it at additional costs.
Parents and retailers alike are hoping that the aging US infrastructure along with shipping problems, won’t leave them trying to explain to children why the “Must Have” toy this season just isn’t going to be under the tree.
As we all know, the holiday season is a make-or-break time for retailers along with suppliers. Getting all products to the right place at the right time is at it’s most critical during this time of year. Retail supply chains and distributors need to have plans in place to deliver all of the goods that are expected to be sitting on store shelves and warehouses. Consumers are ready and willing to part with their hard-earned cash in order to buy the gifts that everyone on their Christmas lists wants.
“During last year’s peak season, for example, consumer electronics giant Hewlett-Packard shipped 10.5 million products to U.S. retailers in the first 25 days of November alone”. According to HP spokesperson Laura Wandke.
“The holiday season puts great pressure on all U.S. supply chains because everyone peaks at the same time,” explains Larry Ravinett, senior vice president of logistics and supply chain solutions for National Retail Systems (NRS), a Secaucus, N.J.-based 3PL specializing in retail logistics.
Forty percent to 50 percent of revenue for the year is earned in this very short time period,“ he adds.
The last few years have seen record port congestion and a 10 day West Coast port shutdown that had over 300,000 containers waiting for deliveries across the country. Since then, the industry has tried to be better prepared to handle any challenges that arise, including seasonal issues.
According to Brooks Bentz, a partner with consulting firm Accenture,Peak season shippers should position themselves to succeed in the following areas:
Transportation network management. Develop a comprehensive, real-time view of the supply chain and of available transportation alternatives, including service options, cost/service trade-offs, and preferred providers.
Strategic transportation services sourcing. Use a holistic, multimodal approach to procuring transportation services, and leverage overlapping capacity and demand networks to optimize costs and service.
Demand planning and forecasting. Feed updated demand data to all trading partners, with enough granularity—such as specific information by day, week, or month—to enable proactive planning to meet capacity and service requirements.
Supply chain visibility and event management. Provide real-time visibility at the SKU level so inventory can be tracked, diverted, or reallocated as needed. By doing this, shippers can detect potential disruptions and identify and address bottlenecks.
Here is to hoping that all goes well this holiday season and for every child that has asked for that special toy to find it under their tree this Christmas morning.