Supply & Product Shipment Issues Amid COVID-19

What We Know, And What We Are Discovering

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, brands are struggling with limited production and delivery issues. Many companies have had to delay their shipment timelines, resulting in a delivery delay to their many markets and, therefore, direct clients. Overall, the virus is and will continue to have a huge impact on the global economy while affecting the long supply chains of industries around the world.

Ground transportation, e.g. trucks, are at capacity with goods from factories to ports. They are currently operating at about 60-80% of normal capacity, resulting in 8-10 day delays minimum. Some companies have also closed manufacturing plans, resulting in a halt in production. Employees do not feel safe at work due to the fact that no precautions are taken in working environments, such as social distancing and extra cleaning, creating tension and negative publicity. Looking Ahead, And Managing Supply Chain Risk

To help ease the situation and create clear communication between companies and consumers, we’re seeing companies take on the below measures.

COVID-19 Committees. Many companies are establishing special committees of people from different departments to design and immediately implement procedures to update customers and maintain a safe working environment. 

Customer Support Technology. Direct, clear communication to consumers is more important than ever before. As a result, some companies are using chatbots to help answer the flood of questions from their customers in a scalable manner. Other companies have introduced a ‘call-me-back’ functionality, which helps spread all the incoming requests over the day. 

Social Media. With the world glued to their phones, social media has become a power consumer communication tool. Many companies are sending critical messages concerning the impact of the crisis on their company, delivery periods, and customer support via social media channels. 

Financial Support. Some companies are offering money, e.g. cash flow, across their extended value chain. This includes provision for early payments to the most valuable small and medium suppliers to help them with their financial liquidity.

Free Shipping. Smaller companies that do not typically offer free shipping have shifted their strategy to do so and are also providing major discounts for the delayed shipping to encourage a steady flow of online sales.

Managing Distribution, And Rethinking Marketing Logistics 

While many offices and retail locations go into lock-down, companies are forced to solely focus on e-commerce and digital marketing to stay afloat. To prevent supply issues and shipment delays from interrupting their marketing programs, we have seen companies put the below tactics in place.

Warehouse Shipments. When brands work with marketing agencies, they will typically ship campaign products from their corporate warehouse to the agency’s warehouse where it will live until it is shipped to the agency office for a smooth transition into the hands of digital content creators. This exchange of hands does not usually present an issue, but in today’s environment where some areas have deeper COVID-19 penetration than others, contaminating the product with extra shipping is not worthwhile. To avoid this problem, agencies are requesting that products be shipped directly from the corporate warehouses to the participants of their marketing programs. 

Retail Orders. To prevent delays in marketing timelines due to warehouse transportation limitations, many companies and agencies are ordering directly from major retailers on behalf of their marketing program participants. This helps content creators avoid the hassle of finding a retailer that has stock and also ensures that content creators receive the right product SKUs. 

Home-Inspired Content. To avoid shipping needs altogether, companies and agencies alike are looking at content creators that are already loyal users of their product and therefore have supplies of it at home. Tools like The Cirqle can help put a call out to content creators that meet this criteria. Once influencers are sourced, they are quickly commissioned to create new, authentic content while showcasing their loyalty to the brand. 

For companies planning to launch programming in Q2, planning ahead and creatively addressing supply and shipment obstacles will be critical to their campaign’s success. This will help them better prepare and react effectively to any further developments that may arise beyond Q2.

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