What is up with all these spring 2017 backorders and delays? — Part One

Preface: This is a nerdy discussion about supply issues and logistics, but without the jargon. This is a discussion of the matter from a retailer/store owner perspective. So while this may shed some light on things you’ve experienced, please take note of the fact that things will be a little different for both of us in this situation.

This has been a weird first quarter.

There is something amiss in the supply chain and it is happening with every brand we carry. This means that there is a broad, systemic issue afoot and not a minor glitch or accounting error on the part of an individual supplier.

I plan to investigate some of the possible problems in this short series of three blog posts.

The symptoms abound. So far we’ve seen:

  • One prominent product line pushed their spring collection launch date back by two weeks only for all of the items in that collection to go on an extensive, six-week backorder after finally coming to market.
  • Another supplier completely abandoned the idea of developing any new items with inexpensive builds, instead opting to focus on luxury styles. They also pushed the prices of these items substantially higher than any comparable styles offered in similar makes from previous collections.
  • Another prominent product line pushed their spring launch date back by a week and, when the launch date arrived, only had about one third of the colors offered available for sale, resulting in extensive backorders. They are still waiting for the rest of the colors to be delivered to their warehouse as of the date of this blog post.
  • Yet another of our suppliers sold out of their spring collections in one week and has been on back order in most styles and colors from that collection now for about two months.
  • A common problem for all of our suppliers is that regardless of demand or willingness of the customer to pay premium prices for the products, the supply is chronically low for almost every supplier in almost every style and they are not replenishing stocks rapidly enough to match consumption.

I cannot write this off as one project manager or team having an off day or season. There has to be something bigger going on if it’s affecting all of our suppliers. All of this creates massive headaches – and near existential crises — for ecommerce retailers like me, who require high volume sales in order to stay in business.

Clear answers are hard to come by, so I am just going to regurgitate some data for you so we can try to explain some of these one by one.

Stay tuned for the next installment – coming soon!

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4 Comments

  1. April 19, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    Great article Heather! Thank you for updating everyone!

  2. Katherine A
    April 20, 2017 / 8:12 pm

    What a headache…but based on the picture I can’t resist saying that you have top men working on it right now. Top…men.

    • Julia Schall
      April 22, 2017 / 12:36 am

      Waiting with anticipation for the answer….and hope it’s not a “”””WIG SHORTAGE!!!!!”””” because the synthetic fiber is made in some foreign embargoed nation…holy moley, I would have a panic attack :O

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