Supply Chain Sorrows in the Promo Industry

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2021 has brought unprecedented supply chain shortages everywhere, but especially in the promotional products industry. As we approach 2022, it’s important to understand what’s happening behind the scenes so you can best serve your client base. There are three main things you need to be aware of:

cargo ship in port

Delivery delays/price increases

When the pandemic hit, production slowed to a crawl as people started buying less and staying in their homes more. As a direct result, there was less demand for space on cargo ships because there were fewer products that needed to be shipped out. As the world returns to its new normal post-pandemic, people are back to placing massive orders of goods and materials to prepare for conferences, events, and exhibits that are happening in person again. Cargo ships and freight lines have limited capacity since scaling back their businesses during the pandemic, so now they’re charging premium prices for the space they have available. The cost of cargo space to import goods has skyrocketed to almost 5x what it was pre-pandemic! Because of this, expect delivery delays and price increases on product orders as manufacturers have to factor in the greater cost of shipping. 

Sourcing raw materials/shipping delays

Unfortunately, even if your products manage to secure space on a cargo ship, it’s likely that they will experience delays in shipping. Because of COVID protocols and labor shortages, ships are taking longer than ever to port and unload, causing backups in ports and delays all around the world. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, products that would normally take 60-90 days to ship are now taking closer to 120. This is important to note, especially as we get into the holiday season. To receive an order by December, be sure to place it as far in advance as possible!

Price Increases

Because of all this, supplier prices are rising. Some see it as a cash-grab to make up for lost profits during the pandemic, but in reality, it’s a culmination of increased costs all the way down the supply chain. To soften the blow on buyers, many distributors are choosing to educate their client base on these supply chain issues as much as possible. 


Due to these industry shortages, distributors need to get creative with fulfilling orders to continue to meet client needs. Some experts predict the supply chain issues should belate into Q1 or early into Q2, while others predict the issues will be at their worst during that time. Either way, it’s best to be prepared. The best thing you can do is make sure to confirm your orders well in advance. Want more tips to help prepare for the supply chain shortage for your business? Let’s chat!