No matter the global circumstances, the end of the year means one thing for e-commerce marketplaces: shippageddon. Sometimes referred to as the end of year or holiday rush, Q4 is always a busy time for suppliers and lab managers alike. In addition to the typical hectic atmosphere that befalls the e-commerce industry around the holiday season, this year the supply chain is in more duress than years past.
Since their conception, online shopping, online marketplaces, and e-procurement have been quietly evolving the retail industry as a whole. The convenience of ordering supplies through life science marketplaces has fueled growth among biotech R&D labs, which increase in number every day. Playing middle-man between biotech labs and their consumable and equipment suppliers are the millions of delivery drivers, carriers, and shipping workers who spend their days fulfilling orders and transporting goods. The more that both labs and consumers purchase, the more strain there is on the global supply chain.
Shippagedon 2021: Labs Should Begin Preparing Now
Already, the world at large has seen this strain manifested in the form of overcrowded ports and pricey shipping costs. In the past year, ocean-bound cargo freight shipping costs have boomed with over 460% growth. The supply chain isn’t just in crisis because of increased shipping costs and exhaustive labor demands either, the very tools used as the basis of online retail shipping are in short supply as well. The wooden pallets that are continuously circling between supplier and lab, those most commonly used to transport nearly every product in the US have also recently spiked in price due to naturally occurring shortages. In some states pallet prices rose as high as 400% last year — an event that acted as a series of speedbumps for the e-commerce industry, as the supply chain was forced to slow down in order to overcome these obstacles.
These supply chain issues are primed to make for a particularly difficult and expensive end of year digital purchasing experience for all involved.
How Labs Can Prepare for Shippageddon
For lab managers and leaders, this means an increased emphasis on the importance of taking a proactive approach to the end of the year. For many labs, Q4 is when you manage your end of year lab budget. Whether or not you are ending the year under or over budget will dictate your holiday season supply needs, in addition to the typical lab supplies ordered every quarter.
In order to not only survive Shippageddon, but to navigate it successfully, lab managers should begin planning their Q4 orders now. Delays are all but guaranteed during the holiday season, but they don’t need to be. Take this time to analyze your past Q4 shipment orders as well as your 2022 Q1 projected lab supply needs. Are there any specific supplies that you typically order every year at this time out of habit? Determine if they are a necessity this year. Are there any projects coming up early in Q1 that would suffer greatly from delayed supplies? If they won’t perish or expire before they are needed, go ahead and pre-order them now to guarantee no delays will affect your project timeline.
It’s proactive supply ordering tactics like these that will help your teams tread water during the upcoming busy season.
How Suppliers Can Prepare for Shippageddon
For suppliers, gracefully navigating Shippageddon will also require taking a proactive approach to the upcoming busy season. However, while lab managers are just concerned with obtaining their supplies on schedule, for suppliers, surviving Shippageddon requires a joining effort between the marketing and the delivery teams.
Delivery teams will experience an uptick in order urgency, frequency, and quantity. To ensure that orders are being fulfilled and delivered on time, lab equipment and product suppliers should consider hiring full-time workers or seasonal employees to ease the burden on your existing shipping employees. An overworked team won’t do anyone any good, especially during an innately overwhelming time of year such as Shippageddon.
Meanwhile, in order to be thoroughly proactive in Q4, suppliers should also begin ramping up their marketing efforts early. This is the time of year to make your presence known as a lab supply company. Your usual customers will be stocking up in the months to come, but don’t forget all of the lab managers out there who you haven’t managed to convert into customers yet. Shippageddon could be the perfect time for you to spark a new connection with more members of your target audience. Remember, this is the time when lab managers are on the lookout for the best holiday deals and promotions. Take this as a welcome opportunity to introduce your company to new customers by way of targeted marketing efforts that feature holiday promotions for first-time and returning customers.