Countdown to Black Friday: From Across Oceans to Store Shelves
Black Friday: a shopping bonanza for bargain-hungry consumers and a day of record-breaking sales for retailers. It’s also the ultimate test of preparedness for supply chain professionals. Planning for the holiday surge starts months in advance—a step that’s even more critical when your freight needs to cross oceans.
After a purchase order is placed, it takes roughly 25 to 30 days for ocean containers to leave Asia, travel the ocean, clear customs, and ship from the U.S. port to final destination. If you have a product coming from overseas that Black Friday shoppers can’t wait to get their hands on, chances are that those shipments are en route or have already arrived at your distribution centers or stores.
Under typical circumstances, supply chains are complex. But during the busy season leading up to Black Friday and the holidays, supply chains can also seem downright brittle. One disruption—like a weather-related incident, a sudden shift in consumer demand or ocean capacity, or a business impact, like labor disputes or the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy—and the entire supply chain can come to a halt. And for many, that’s simply not an option.
If you do experience delays that stem back to the Hanjin bankruptcy, it’s not entirely impossible that your product won’t make it to the shelf by Black Friday. Talk to your third party logistics provider (3PL) about transloading and multimodal capabilities or expedited air freight services as options to help your product get where it needs to be.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to determine when supply chain disruption from the Hanjin bankruptcy will end, as there are many moving parts. The key, as always, is to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry and know which alternative means of transportation are available.
Sri Laxmana is director of ocean services for the Global Forwarding division of C.H. Robinson. Sri has been with C.H. Robinson for more than 15 years and has worked in customs brokerage, ocean and air imports and Exports, business development, and trade management.
Editor’s note: As one of the United States’ biggest single shopping days of the year nears—and the unofficial start of the U.S. consumer holiday shopping season begins—we’ll be highlighting several areas of logistics that are integral in making Black Friday possible. The next in the series will appear on Wednesday, November 16.
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