After reading this engaging article on the rising prices of consumer goods over the last year or so, it reminded me of some strikingly similar experiences we’ve had at Keycraft lately.
Just this week, we finally received a shipment of dino eggs that were months behind schedule. The eggs made multiple stops and unplanned stays at various points on their erratic voyage to Keycraft’s global headquarters.
They tell a tale of a global supply chain and shipping industry in disarray, where Covid-19 knock-on effects have resulted in a shortage of Chinese workers and factory capacity, less shipping containers, bidding wars for available freight space, all compounded by understaffed offloading ports that are backed up weeks behind schedule.
What usually costs us around $3,000 to ship inventory from Yantian to our main Scottish warehouse now costs $18,000 just to reach port! That’s a shockingly steep price hike by anyone’s estimations. We’re also lucky if shipments arrive roughly when expected; we usually receive shipments within two or three weeks, not months.
It’s not only Chinese manufacturers and shipping vessels that are currently experiencing bottlenecks and industry capacity constraints. In the UK, we’ve seen the lorry haulage industry take a big hit following Covid-19 and Brexit. This has acted to exacerbate shipment delays and price increases even further.
The shortage of UK lorry drivers has affected many British businesses of late, from food chains to petrol stations. As referenced in the BBC article, a Road Haulage Association survey estimates that there is a shortage of over 100,000 drivers in the UK, down from a pre-pandemic total of around 600,000. This includes tens of thousands of drivers from the EU, some of whom left during the initial pandemic slowdown not to return.
The global shipping industry squeeze is certainly keeping the team at Keycraft on our toes. We are putting additional consideration and fore-planning into managing our raw materials, stock levels and logistics. Adequately preparing for the Christmas season given current challenges has been a particular priority in the last couple of months.
Gary Grant, founder of the successful toy retailer The Entertainer, recently spoke to The Guardian about the significant challenges that will be faced this Christmas as supply chain disruptions reduce stock and drive up costs. As we suggested in July, preparing for your 2021 Christmas season & Santa's grotto will benefit from more advance planning than usual, and gift price increases may need to be factored in.
Despite the pressured situation, Keycraft are doing our best to support the success of our customers. We avoid passing on price increases where at all possible. Our diligent team will keep working to maintain a consistent supply of in-demand toy stock and fulfill our generous targets for stock levels held within our customers’ key geo-markets. This allows us to maintain a speedy delivery service directly from our warehouses in the UK, US and Australia.
In addition, we announced Operation Stock Unblock in June - part of our ongoing commitment to make life easier for our retail customers when searching for available wholesale stock on our website. And as per our most recent announcement, we’re also upgrading our warehouse and dispatch management system to further improve customer service.
Learn more about how Keycraft can support your business during the 2021 stock crunch.
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