Supply chain issues are sweeping across America, affecting businesses both small and large. However, small businesses are taking a bigger hit. With less funds and resources at hand, small businesses are struggling to keep items in stock as they deal with gauging prices and upset customers.
A recent survey by the U.S. Census indicated that 45% of small businesses reported having supplier delays. This number increased by 20% since the beginning of the year. This is largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic which swept across the nation, forcing warehouses and manufacturing plants to close their doors, at least for some period.
The closures have led manufacturers to fall behind and they have been unable to catch up. It also created a shortage of shipping containers which needed to move the products and a lack of employees to work the ports.
With low stock, comes high prices, thanks to “supply and demand.” This leaves business owners no choice but to raise their prices, in order to afford their own materials. Customers are then left paying more for the products and services they’ve been purchasing for years and that can be a tough pill to swallow.
Unlike big box retailers like Walmart and Target, small businesses don’t have priority in the supply chain competition. Often, they may not be able to get the stock at all.
So, what can small businesses do during these tough times?
Keep track of inventory. It’s important to know what is in stock and what needs to be replenished. When you see items are getting low, order before your stock is emptied. Since the supply chain is unpredictable right now, it’s difficult to know when items will become available again if you wait too long to order.
Increase inventory. If financially able, increasing inventory is a good idea during these times. Doing so will ensure that you will never go without products. When a popular item is available, buy as much as you can afford and keep an eye out for discounts.
Be honest and upfront with customers. Most people are aware of the supply chain issues happening across the country, but they may be unaware of how they are affecting businesses on the local level. Be sure to communicate with your customers and let them know that there may be a delay on receiving their products.
Small businesses owners are urged to hang in there, as it appears the supply chain issues are easing — though it has yet to be seen.
Murtaza Jaffer is the co-owner of EBC Printing of Trexlertown. He can be reached at [email protected]