Although last year’s scramble for household items has mostly passed, supply chain challenges continue to crop up in 2021. The backup at US ports, semiconductor chip shortages, and other supply issues have affected industries across the board. Even national chains like Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A are feeling the pinch. 

We’ve seen our customers face several supply chain challenges of their own this year, and we’ve helped them create solutions that kept their businesses moving forward. To share some of these solutions with you, we called on our Approved experts who have been navigating supply chain issues alongside our clients. Below, you’ll find their top tips for surviving the supply chain challenges of 2021. 

#1: It Might Be Time to Renegotiate 

 If your landed cost doubled, what would you do? 

We recently worked with a retail store in Hawaii who shared that their landed cost for one popular product had nearly doubled. This particular product is both heavy and bulky in size, and the rising cost to get this item to Hawaii was eating away at their margins. Our team discovered out that this store had been with their carrier for a while and hadn’t re-quoted these shipments recently. After some negotiating, our team was able to secure a new agreement, lowering the landed cost to within a few dollars of its original price. 

The lesson here? If you haven’t renegotiated your business or shopped around lately, now might be the time.  

 #2: For Hawaii Businesses, Direct Service Is More Important Than Ever 

Are you inadvertently adding extra days to your transit time? If you’re running a business on the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai, there are two ways your goods and supplies will reach you: 

  1. Either your shipments get routed to Oahu, then sent by barge to your island, or 
  2. You can opt for direct service straight from the mainland to Hilo, Kona, Kahului, or Nawiliwili. 

Our experts have long been advocates for the second optiondirect service to Hawaii. It offers a number of advantages for businesses on neighbor islands. Additionally, in these times of supply chain challenges, there’s one key advantage that stands out. Direct service can cut down on transit time, putting goods and supplies in your hands faster. In fact, we recently transitioned a new customer to direct service, shaving an average three to four days off transit time. 

It’s easy to see how direct service can be a time-saver. Let’s say you’re a business in Hilo sending less-than-container-load shipment of supplies. If you’re not using direct service supplies will likely be loaded into a container with items for all of Hawaii. When the boat pulls into the Honolulu port, your container is unloaded from the ship, and the Oahu items are unloaded. Then the container with the rest of the items for Hilo (including yours) waits to be transported. By that point, your shipment may sit for another day or two before shipping to Hilo.  

In a time when many businesses are scrambling to resupply as fast as they can, transit time become critical. Saving a few days could be the difference between halting operations or continuing to operate. If you’re not already using direct service, now might be the right time to switch. 

There’s also another factor that can impact your transit time to Hawaii. 

#3: Asset-Based 3PLs Can Make a Real Difference for Hawaii-Based Businesses  

Does your forwarder run its own fleet—and does that really matter to you?

When you’re working with a 3PL or freight forwarder to Hawaii, you’ll find two different kinds of providers: 

  1. Asset-based 3PLs or freight forwarders that own their own warehouses, run their own fleets, and employ their own delivery teams. 
  2. Operations that use agents. These providers contract out their Hawaii deliveries to partners in the Hawaiian islands. 

When things are going well, you might not notice a difference between these operations. However, when there are supply chain challenges working with an asset-based operation can offer advantages, especially in transit times. Here’s why: An asset-based company operates its own fleet. As a result, they’re in control of their schedule. Let’s say you desperately need a particular component that’s critical to business. You know it will arrive to Kahului on Wednesday, and you want to know how fast it will get to your warehouse. 

If you’re using an asset-based 3PL, you’ll work directly with the people scheduling the delivery routes. They have a vested interest in providing top-notch service and you’ll be able to negotiate the delivery time. 

However, if you’re working with an agent, it can be a bit like a game of telephone. You’re negotiating with your agent, who, in turn, is negotiating with the delivery team. In an ideal world, everyone’s interests will be aligned. However, since you’re not the direct customer of that delivery partner, it can be harder to get the exact schedule you’re looking for, which might add yet another day or two to your transit time.  

So if you’re not happy with how your shipments are moving, it might be time to contact an asset-based 3PL in Hawaii. 

#4: Your Ordering Strategy May Be Due for an Overhaul 

How can you deal with supply issues and delays that are seemingly out of your control? 

Unusual times call for creative strategies. Many businesses today are feeling the effects of the delays at the Port of Los Angeles, disruptions from suppliers, and delays in transit. In situations like this, which feel beyond everyone’s control, our experts recommend two key ordering strategies to help you stay stocked and supplied: 

  1. Add more cushion to your lead times. With material shortages, port delays, and capacity crunches, goods and supplies are simply taking longer to arrive. If you’re used to ordering 4-6 weeks out, add some extra padding to that timeframe. Your freight forwarder or 3PL should be able to help you estimate an adjusted lead time, based on where your goods are coming from and what routes they’re traveling.
  2. Place bigger orders. We’ve seen several customers increase orders from their suppliers. Some have gone as far to double their usual quantities to ensure that they have extras on hand in case of delays. Prior to the pandemic, many companies employed a just-in-time mentality. However, a shift to stockpile more supplies and inventory, can help prevent your business from grinding to a halt.  

 In summary, order more and order earlier to hedge your bets in this changeable environment. 

#5: Find a Trusted Partner in Uncertain Times 

Are you navigating these supply chain challenges all on your own? 

In an ideal world, your 3PL or freight forwarder feels like a trusted business partner, someone who’s working side-by-side to find solutions to your challenges. If you’re not feeling this level of partnership, it might be time to shop around, renegotiate, and get the pro support you need to navigate these supply chain challenges seamlessly. 

If you’d like to talk about your supply chain challenges with one of our experts, we’d love to help. Just book a complimentary consultation with us to get started.  

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