The presents started piling up around our Christmas tree over the past week, familiar looking gift bags that arrived on our doorstep packed in cardboard boxes.
Judging by the shape of those gift bags, I’m pretty sure the ones with tags addressed to me contain freshly pressed vinyl albums, the favored gifts my sons and I have been exchanging with each other in recent years. LPs and record players are back.
My children are scattered around the country so when we can’t see each other in person around the holidays, we’re all busy shopping online and watching the last date that still guarantees delivery by Christmas.
That date has been a moving target this year.
My three sons and daughters-in-law must have been paying attention to all the news about pandemic supply chain problems and shipping delays and made sure they placed their orders early. The arrival of several packages over the last several days prompted me to stop procrastinating and start shopping.
I can relax now that I know the Ramones and the Grateful Dead will make it to Denver before Dec. 25, and the arts and crafts kit for my grandson will reach North Carolina before Santa does. We know everyone in our crew will have at least some of their gifts show up on time.
Yogibo navigates shipping challenges
Our shipping challenges don’t sound like much to companies whose viability depends on a successful holiday season.
Yogibo, a Nashua company best known for its bean bag chairs, was better prepared this year, says CEO Eyal Levy. The company operates retail stores around the world but expanded its online business over the past year-and-a half as more consumers shopped from home.
“It was very nerve-racking last holiday season with all the supply chain when everything was shipped online,” Levy said during a recent interview at the company’s headquarters and warehouse. “I was literally working almost until Christmas Eve 16 hours a day helping with shipping items,” he said.
More customers this year are shopping at the company’s retail stores than they did last year, which has relieved some of the stress.
“It’s more balanced. People are going more to the stores, and we’re not just shipping online, so that helps with the whole supply chain,” Levy said.
The company has had to refuse some orders during the pandemic because it was unable to receive enough polystyrene pellets to fill its bean bag chairs, a problem it plans to rectify by building its own plant to produce the pellets in-house (as we noted in last week’s column).
“Most of the factories we work with are two to three hours away from us, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but trucking these days — besides the cost — the availability is poor.”
And the time it takes to receive shipments from overseas, such as the stretchable fabric Yogibo imports from China, takes nearly twice as long.
“If a container used to take 35 days from leaving a port in China until we get it in-house. Now it’s 60 days,” he said.
The cost of those containers has increased fivefold.
“It used to be $5,000. Now it’s $25,000,” Levy said.
The company’s primary products, which are assembled in the United States, haven’t been impacted much by those increases, he said, in part because fabric doesn’t take up that much room in containers.
Yogibo also makes sure it has materials on hand in advance.
“The big change that we’ve made because of all the delays is making sure we have all of the materials ahead of time,” Levy said.
That means increasing the working capital.
“Instead of placing orders and getting them right when we need it, let’s get them three months ahead and have an extra, extra three months of inventory to overcome all these delays,” he said.
Last-minute shoppers could learn from that kind of planning.