The days of just-in-time inventory just might be numbered.
Most suppliers in the automotive, electronics and apparel industries have worked this way for going on 60 years, and it’s worked pretty well overall. It enables businesses to sell a product to their customers first, then buy the materials for said product from their supplier with the confidence that they would be there when they needed it.
Over time this model has minimized overstock and waste and kept suppliers competitive. When it works, that is.
We’re all currently experiencing what happens when this trusted system breaks down. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the flaws in the just-in-time supply chain system – issues that are likely to continue through the end of the year and possibly into 2022.
It’s with all this in mind that we approach the 2021 holiday season with a couple pieces of advice: plan ahead and order early.
Planning for Demand
Here’s one way to look at the upcoming holiday season: “Think 2020, but more.”
Customer demand will likely be just as strong as it was last year, but with pandemic restrictions easing and more events happening, people will be shopping earlier and spending more than last year. Venues are reopening across the country, schools are teaching in person again and hiring is up everywhere. These are where you should be looking as you make your holiday plans.
- Look for nearby businesses that are re-opening after being closed for months.
- Check event calendars in your local area to see what upcoming holiday events are already in the planning stages.
Social media is always a great place to start when you’re hunting for information. Check community pages on Facebook and elsewhere to see which businesses and organizations are most likely to need your help.
Understanding and planning for what’s going in in your world during the holidays will help you see what you’ll need to have on hand.
Working with Supply
You’ve got a picture of the demand, so let’s work on the supply. The rule here is, “If you wait until someone asks you for it, you might already be too late.”
Recently we walked you through how you can check SanMar’s up-to-the minute inventory online to see what’s available. Here’s where you get to put that tool to work. Once you find the right shirt in the right color and the right sizes, and you see that it’s in stock, don’t wait until they ask for it. Order it now and make sure you have it.
Expanding your on-hand inventory has its own benefits too – it enables you to be proactive with your customers. Instead of waiting for them to choose which shirt they want and waiting longer while you order it, you can present them with options that you already have available in your shop, ready to be decorated. That kind of next-level preparation is sure to make a lasting impression.
It remains to be seen whether we’re seeing the end of the just-in-time inventory model. But for this year, at least, it’s good to remember to plan ahead and order early. When supply chains are slow and inventory is limited, the early bird gets the business.