Business Daily Media

Business News

Why hasn't my parcel arrived yet? Delivery and supply chain problems are multiplying – and yes, it'll probably affect Christmas

Why hasn't my parcel arrived yet? Delivery and supply chain problems are multiplying – and yes, it'll probably affect Christmas

Does it feel lately like your parcels are taking forever to arrive? You might have seen online retailers warning customers to expect delays, thanks to COVID-related pressures on the postal system and other delivery services.

We are 18 months into the pandemic and, far from being solved, the cracks in the global logistics system are multiplying. E-commerce is booming but despite rerouting deliveries and staff working extra shifts, delays are becoming the norm.

So what’s happening, and will all your purchases make it in time for Christmas?

Manufacturing troubles

A lot of what we buy these days is made overseas. Many products get to us after a long international journey, which has been made even more complicated by COVID-19.

The first crack in the system is at the manufacturing level.

Manufacturers can’t always guarantee volumes at the moment. Some are out of parts, with critical suppliers pausing operations due to lockdowns. Some are out of power, with many factories in China having to stop production[1] for hours each week due to power shortages. Some are out of cash, with many commodities doubling their prices in just one year[2].

Transportation woes

Transportation is not a given.

Shipping containers sit for two weeks or more waiting for a berth[3] and the cost of transporting it is four times as much[4] as in 2020.

While international commerce rebounded quickly after the initial shocks caused by COVID-19, repositioning containers and ships take time. Also, there just aren’t enough of either.

With crews unable to go onshore[5] in several countries, there are fewer hands on the deck.

A blockage in the Suez Canal[6], a port terminal pausing operations due to a COVID-19 case[7], a typhoon[8] looming en route – it seems there is always one more obstacle to add to the list of transportation woes.

A ship blocks the Suez Canal.
A blockage in the Suez Canal? A port terminal pausing due to an outbreak? There’s always some new transportation obstacle to overcome. Maxar Technologies Handout/EPA

Storage is struggling

Storage services have also been profoundly affected by COVID-19.

Retailers have to adapt[9] from working with large stores in bricks-and-mortar retail stores to sending parcels to individual consumers from the online channel.

It is a new mindset. The equipment is different, the flow is affected, processes must be redesigned, and complexity increases.

Additional obligations apply[10] to warehousing and distribution centres.

If COVID-19 finds its way into a retailer’s facilities, doors must be closed for hours for deep cleaning. Sick employees and close contacts go into quarantine, removing entire shifts from the operation. Mandatory vaccination rules are updated constantly.

The last mile is suffering

Delivery services represent the crucial “last mile” to get the product to the buyer.

But since the pandemic struck, truck drivers have been scarce and must contend with new delivery protocols[11], COVID-19 tests every few days, movement restrictions, long hours and soaring fuel prices[12].

So if your package is late or you can’t find a product, don’t just blame Australia Post or your favourite retailer. The delay may be caused by problems much further up the supply chain.

Supply chains are used to find solutions to problems. What’s new is these problems are now happening everywhere, at the same time, and staying for longer than expected.

A man with a delivery box arrives at the door. So if your package is late or you can’t find a product, don’t just blame Australia Post or your favourite retailer. Shutterstock

What does it mean for me? And for Christmas?

If you live in Australia, know that you are not a priority: international shipping to Australia was reduced[13] in the past few months. That said, there should be no shortage of essential items. If you can’t instantly find exactly what you want, be patient or experiment with a different brand.

As for Christmas, don’t expect to buy online in early December and have your parcel delivered by the 25th. There is only so much Australia Post or any other delivery company can do.

An Australia Post van waits outside a building. There’s only so much Australia Post can do. Shutterstock

Don’t expect all your favourite groceries to be fully stocked on Christmas Eve. Be ready to replace your glazed Christmas ham with crayfish if you visit the supermarket too late, as abattoirs are again hit by restrictions[14].

Don’t expect to pay the same as last year. Higher lead times, inventory and fuel prices are driving up supply chain costs. UK supermarket prices are set to rise 5%[15], and Australia shouldn’t be much different.

Relief will come to global logistics after Christmas but things should go back on track only by 2024. It will take a while to get most of the world vaccinated, go around energy shortages, rebalance international routes and adapt to the explosion of e-commerce.

The new normal is on its way. Just don’t expect it for Christmas.

References

  1. ^ many factories in China having to stop production (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ many commodities doubling their prices in just one year (www.bloomberg.com)
  3. ^ waiting for a berth (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ the cost of transporting it is four times as much (www.drewry.co.uk)
  5. ^ crews unable to go onshore (pursuit.unimelb.edu.au)
  6. ^ blockage in the Suez Canal (www.bbc.com)
  7. ^ pausing operations due to a COVID-19 case (www.reuters.com)
  8. ^ typhoon (edition.cnn.com)
  9. ^ Retailers have to adapt (www.mckinsey.com)
  10. ^ Additional obligations apply (www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au)
  11. ^ delivery protocols (www.nhvr.gov.au)
  12. ^ soaring fuel prices (www.news.com.au)
  13. ^ international shipping to Australia was reduced (www.news.com.au)
  14. ^ restrictions (www.mla.com.au)
  15. ^ UK supermarket prices are set to rise 5% (www.theguardian.com)

Authors: Flavio Macau, Associate Dean Teaching & Learning, Edith Cowan University

Read more https://theconversation.com/why-hasnt-my-parcel-arrived-yet-delivery-and-supply-chain-problems-are-multiplying-and-yes-itll-probably-affect-christmas-169259

Business Daily Media Business Development

Coming around again: five customer retention strategies to help your business bounce back from Covid

As the Australian economy continues to open up, keeping existing buyers happy will help your business get back on its feet faster, writes Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce ...

Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC at Sana Commerce - avatar Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC at Sana Commerce

Samsung brings new Experiences to Parramatta

Samsung Australia has today announced its new Samsung Experience Store opens in Westfield Parramatta this Friday 26th November 2021, bringing an exciting new experience to Sydney’s Wes...

Business Daily Media - avatar Business Daily Media

How businesses can invest with confidence and add digital currency as a form of payment

Digital currencies are on the rise. Here in Australia, our population holds the third highest uptake of cryptocurrency ownership globally, with 1 in 5 Australian adults owning a form of ...

Sean Tolkin, CEO/Founder, Aus Merchant - avatar Sean Tolkin, CEO/Founder, Aus Merchant

Pat Rafter and Zero Co want to give $10 Million grassroots organisations and redefine fundraising

Sustainable body and home-care brand Zero Co has launched an initiative to support struggling grassroots and community organisations with a new fundraising model that helps raise much ne...

Business Daily Media - avatar Business Daily Media

Writers Wanted



NewsServices.com

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion