As many of you know in the post-Covid landscape, it seems that most everything takes longer, is in shorter supply, and costs more. So many factors have contributed to the ongoing supply chain crisis across the globe, but there are planning strategies to help keep the impact on your organization to a minimum. Like most, the promotional products industry was hit hard with immediate shortages, rapidly changing stock numbers, and increased demand. The new normal we must navigate as an industry is one of longer lead times for production and shipping along with more flexibility in ordering, budgeting, and product selection.
The good news is that although 2022 will not be back to pre-pandemic levels, there do seem to be signs of improvement. The backlog of container ships waiting to offload cargo at the LA and Long Beach ports is receding, overseas container capacity is available, and we expect that the enormous shipping costs will level out and improve with time as well. The resilience of our blood centers has been on full display during the last two years, in so many ways. Your staff, your donors and your volunteers have risen to the occasion and have continued to let nothing stand in the way of saving lives. As customers and partners, your continued understanding never ceases to amaze our team. There were many times where we found ourselves piecing together 5 different types/styles or colors of shirts to fill even a 100-piece order, and when we were challenged, you said yes without fail, and for that, for you, we are so grateful.
As we continue to navigate all of the moving parts and to help lessen the impact of these continued challenges on your organizations, we suggest a three-step approach:
#1 Place orders farther in advance than normal (weeks, even months in advance is ideal) – work with our team to develop an annual promotional plan, with target ordering dates and secure product/stock in advance. We often begin planning in the Spring for the following year, so if this is something you would like to engage the FCI Brands team to do, now is the best time to start the process.
#2 Establish a Plan B, just in case – if you are open to additional colors/styles/designs or if you have an alternative in mind when an order is placed, this eases the stress if a specific product is backordered or unavailable. We will work with you to determine this in advance or at the time an order is placed for back-up.
#3 Communicate potential substitutions to donors – our team suggests that for promotional purposes you always note that the featured product or design is subject to change based upon availability and that donors are aware that due to the current landscape there could be last minute changes to incentives, thank you gifts or recognition items.
While we cannot predict how or when things will level out or even what the new “normal” looks like, we want you to know that we are here for you as support, as strategic planning partners, and as a full-service promotional product supplier that can guide you through the challenges, whatever they may be, with proactive solutions and ideas to engage your donors. We are here, we are ready to work together to ensure you have the pieces in place to recognize and reward those that support a safe and adequate blood supply for the communities you serve.