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If you’ve been in a store anytime in the last two years, you’ve seen the shortages which result from global supply chain issues, bare shelves, substitutions on your grocery order, rising prices, and can anyone forget the toilet paper shortage of 2020? The global supply chain issue has significantly impacted every industry. In this article, we are diving into the supply chain’s impact on the events industry and in particular the promotional products and what you can do to prepare! But first, let’s look into the history of how this problem began. 

Why are Supply Chains Facing Challenges? 

When the pandemic started in the spring of 2020, many companies slowed down operations. Businesses made the tough decision to downsize to survive. Additionally, 90 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies have suppliers in the regions of China that were most affected in the initial phase of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was the perfect storm and caused mass disruptions to the supply chains around the world. 

This slowdown exposed many vulnerabilities in our supply chains. Unfortunately, the disruptions and price inflation haven’t slowed down yet. We’re still experiencing supply shortages and lack experienced labor to get the products to their destinations. Supply chains are complex, and bottlenecks anywhere can bring it to a screeching halt.  

How Global Supply Chain Issues Impact Events 

If you’ve been in the events industry during this pandemic, you’re no stranger to a challenge! Together, we’ve conquered the world of virtual and hybrid events and found ways to return to in-person safely. But, now, like many other industries, we are facing supply chain issues. 

You may have tried to order promotional items only to find out you won’t be able to get them in time for your event or maybe you’ve seen design delays. You’ve likely experienced supply chain delays, but with one of the busiest times of the year approaching, things just got a lot more complicated. 

Why are there shortages? 

Many promotional items we purchase for events are manufactured overseas. They are made in the areas deeply impacted by the first waves of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these waves shut down manufacturing for months, and we still see the effects. 

But it’s not just manufacturing causing delays. The transportation industry is also understaffed. Ports don’t have enough staff to offload container ships. Even with staffed ports, you could face a challenge finding truckers to deliver your product where it needs to go. As a result, we’re seeing a trend that out-of-stock products may not be returning for a long time. 

We sat down with Jamie Stone, President of Gifts by Design powered by BAMKO, one of the largest branded merchandise and apparel suppliers in the world, to discuss this issue. Jamie explained how ordering used to be and the changes she has experienced now. Normally, when a supplier runs out of a product, there is another shipment on its way to replace it and replenish the inventory. That isn’t happening now.” 

Source: Gifts by Design

How Long Will Supply Chain Issues Last? 

These challenges are ongoing and will continue for the foreseeable future. As a result, we will likely see shortages in inventory, and prices continue to rise. Unfortunately, these shortages aren’t just temporary stock issues. Jamie explains that suppliers are already selling out of their inventory for the year, “we’re hearing from many of our suppliers that once their inventory is gone, they aren’t expecting to be restocked until March of 2022.” 

How will this impact the rest of the year? And what should you prepare for? Jamie weighs in again with her expert opinion, “expect product shortages to impact the promotional products industry during what’s traditionally the busiest time of year — the fourth quarter holiday gifting season. Further pricing volatility could come into play too.” 

How to Overcome These Supply Chain Challenges 

Order Ahead 

It’s time to let go of the timelines you’ve used in the past to order promotional productions. Ordering promotional items by Mid-October will not work this year. If you wait, you will likely have limited choices. To get what you want, you need to be proactive and order early. Jamie recommends the industry plan ahead and place orders as soon as possible. She is advising her clients to place orders right now for the holiday gifting season. Otherwise, you may not be able to get the products and promos you had initially chosen. So don’t wait until the last minute!

Allocate More Budget 

With limited supply, prices will continue to increase. Be sure to pad your budget to anticipate rising costs.

Be Flexible and Stay Positive! 

If you can’t get the promos and products you had initially planned for, be flexible. Flexibility is critical as we navigate the continued uncertainties the pandemic has brought. 

Lean on Your Partners

Instead of panicking, work with your supplier to help find a new option. Let them know your vision, and they will do their best to help it come to life. They are your partners and are there to help! 

Key Takeaways: How the Global Supply Chain Issue is Affecting the Events Industry 

Now you’re informed and ready to prepare for supply chain issues. If you follow our key takeaways below, you will have the best chance to get the supplies and products you envision for your next event! 

  • Plan ahead! Order any promotional products for Q4 now, don’t wait! 
  • Be flexible, understand this issue affecting all industries. 
  • Work with your suppliers to find the best alternative solutions if the product you had in mind is unavailable. 

Are you in need of an Ad Specialties & Gifts Supplier? Head to our resource page now to find the best vendors in the industry