In late July, Hershey warned consumers that the company would likely not be able to produce the expected supply of candy for Halloween and Christmas due to supply chain issues – chiefly a lack of raw ingredients.

A week later, the candy maker dialed back its dire prediction, stating that there will be plenty of sweet treats available on store shelves. Because everyday demand for sweets has increased, the company had to choose earlier in the year how much of its production to divert to holiday-themed items and packaging, so the issue was more a shortage of specialized wrappers than the candies themselves.

But the incident illustrates the larger marketplace, in which Hershey is far from alone. Supply chain woes sparked by the pandemic and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine continue to plague manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Labor shortages are also affecting production capacity, even before goods are produced to ship.

Promo products are no exception, with certain perennial favorites like hoodies or safety green tees harder to come by this year. Here are four strategies to help you weather the supply chain storm:

  1. Manage Expectations
    Sure, it seems like everyone knows the supply chain is an ongoing challenge, but don’t assume your customers understand how it might affect their promo products order. Make sure you communicate realistic timelines for production and delivery. Under-promise and overdeliver, as the saying goes.
  2. Source Locally
    Many consumers prefer products made in the USA, but domestic goods also mean faster delivery, as they don’t have to cross an ocean to get to you. Build relationships with multiple U.S.-based suppliers to expand your options – and make sure your customers know that you prioritize American-made goods when possible.
  3. Stock Up
    Think ahead – what demand can you predict and prep for ahead of time? If you have annual repeat orders or know that a certain season will boost demand for certain items (like hoodies in the fall/winter), stock up ahead of time and call your customers earlier than usual to remind them to get those repeat orders in early.
  4. Invest in Tracking Tech
    Supply chain management software can help you track inventory and shipping so you are better informed and able to keep your customers up to date. This technology can also help you identify patterns – like which items are faster or slower to arrive – so you can make more helpful recommendations when planning orders.

All of these are good strategies for successful customer relationships anytime, but especially as the supply chain continues to kink.

We hope to see improvements over the next year, as Congress passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act in June, and President Biden signed it into law. This legislation, supported by PPAI, is intended to help address maritime shipping issues (like congestion at ports) that only got worse in the past few years.

Until that law takes effect, however, you’ll still need to take steps to mitigate delays and support your customers.

Product Spotlight

green recycled plastic water bottle with black handle lid

This 24 Oz. Slim Fit Water Bottle With Pop-Up Sip is BPA-free and comes in eight bottle colors with three separate color options for the lid. Like most of Garyline’s sports bottles and tumblers, it is molded, printed and assembled in the USA by unionized workers. Standard production time is 7-10 working days for a single imprint.

Garyline / Gary Plastic Packaging Corp. / PPAI 112004, S10 /