A Candle Makers Guide to Navigating the Supply Chain Crisis
By now all of us have felt the strain of the continued supply chain crisis caused in large part by the pandemic in one way or another. These issues that began shortly after the epidemic started are carrying on into 2022 and will possibly even last until 2023 some experts say.
According to a recent article on Yahoo News, the “supply-chain disruption started more than a year ago as governments' and corporations' responses to COVID-19 created a million small interruptions. That combined with exploding consumer demand is a recipe for a transportation bottleneck in the form of port backlogs that created the famous line of cargo ships off the California coast.”
What does this mean for a candle making business? Adapt if you want to survive. There are many things that you can do as a small business owner to help keep your operation going during these challenging times. Here we will explore a few things that you can do to keep your supplies coming in and your products going out while minimizing the costs and time associated with doing business in 2021.
Handling Supply Issues
You would be hard pressed to find a business that hasn’t experienced supply chain woes over the past year or so. These days it’s all over the news that manufacturers are struggling to secure materials and there are huge shipping backlogs that are only going to get worse as the busy holiday season approaches. Both factors are having a domino effect that is rippling its way through almost every industry around the world. So how can you make sure that these issues have as little impact on your business as possible? Here are a few tips:
Don’t Wait to Order
Delaying your order for any reason can cause you to risk missing out on products that you may require to run your business properly. In the past, if a supplier was out of an item on your list you could wait until it arrived before ordering everything else. But now more than ever, when your supplier has products in stock that you know you will need you should place your order right away. If they run out of a product while you’re waiting for another, it could be quite sometime before they are able to restock.
Supply on things like candle containers are especially unpredictable right now, and it could be weeks or even months before your supplier is able to get more inventory. Unfortunately, this may involve incurring extra shipping charges. You’ll need to decide what will have a more negative impact on your business: taking on additional shipping costs or risking not being able to get a product at all.
Order in Bulk Sizes
Ordering the essential supplies that you use on a regular basis in bulk is a great way to guarantee that you will always have what you need on hand. Not only that, but it will likely also save you some money in the long run.
Taking the time to figure out your anticipated sales over a period and then ordering your supplies based on that number can allow you to purchase larger quantities that are often available at discounted rates. Having all these supplies sent in one large delivery will also save you on shipping costs over time.
For a candle maker, ordering things like wax, wicks, fragrance oils and containers in bulk sizes will bring you peace of mind. If you have the space and the capital to purchase in larger quantities, it is highly recommended that you do so.
It is important with any delivery, but especially with large pallet sized orders, that you take the time to thoroughly check your order prior to signing off on the delivery with the courier. As soon as you sign off on a delivery, the courier considers that proof that everything arrived safely. If you checked later and found some product damage that occurred during shipping, your signature on the delivery document could make it very difficult for you and your supplier to get reimbursed by the courier.
Be Prepared to Pivot When Necessary
Even the best laid plans can run into a problem along the way and having all your eggs in one basket can have disastrous results. As a candle maker and business owner, being able to switch things up when troubles arise can be the difference between success or disappointment.
It is a very good idea for you to have options to choose from when it comes to your supplies. Being comfortable working with more than one type of wax, having a few different wicks that work in their wax and containers, and having an assortment of candle containers and fragrance oils that you can shift to when other options aren’t available are all ways that you can keep your operation going when you experience supply problems.
Communicate with your Customers
One of the most important things that you can do to stay on track during these uncertain times is to keep an open line of communication with your customers. Be very open and honest about the current supply chain issues. Make sure that they realize that while you are doing everything you can to maintain your inventory, it is possible that substitutions may need to be made. Customers tend to be more understanding and more flexible when a business is upfront with them about what is going on.
Tips for Shipping to your Customers
Now that we have offered some ideas on the best way to get your supplies to you, we will explore the best way to get your products to your customer’s door steps. You’ve used all this time and effort to make beautiful candles for your customers, now you need to get them to your customers as quickly as possible and in one piece. Here are some tips to do this:
Get Them to Order Early
Asking your customers to order well in advance of when they need your candles is very helpful. While you can control when you make the candles as soon as they have left on the carrier’s truck you are at their mercy on how long it will take to get to your customers. The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier the delivery companies will be and the longer it could take for your products to reach their destination. The sooner the order comes in, the sooner it will get on its way.
Use a Shipping Service
When you are shipping out a lot of products but not enough to qualify for large quantity discounts, we recommend that you investigate using a shipping service like netParcel. These services have negotiated deeply discounted shipping rates with top couriers to save their customers money. They are the ideal shipping method for small and medium sized businesses because they give them access to shipping rates that would typically only be available to larger companies.
Other Shipping Tips:
- Reuse packing material from your supplier’s shipments.
- Visit stores that get many product shipments in boxes with packing material like grocery stores and dollar stores and ask if you can take the excess boxes and packing material to reuse.
- Make sure to carefully pack any breakables with packing materials and make sure that there is no space in the box for movement.
- Pack as much as you safely can into each box but be careful not to stack glass jars on top of each other as this can cause breakage during shipping.
- Be as accurate as possible when entering dimensions and weight of a shipment.
- Use a courier that will provide your customer with tracking information.
In this day in age, shipping is a necessary aspect of almost every business. The number of people who purchase online and have the items they need shipped continues to grow and put stress on the supply chain. By using the tips we discussed in this blog, you will be able to overcome the challenges associated with the current supply chain crisis. By remaining flexible and vigilant and having a clear line of communication with your clientele, your business will make it to the other side of this crisis stronger than ever.