Paola Jaramillo – Storch International, Inc.

Panic At The Ports – Our Updated Best-Practices

Busy season looms and the logistical chaos plaguing our industry continues, but there may be hope on the horizon.

What does this mean for Storch International customers and our industry in general?

After hearing from our logistics partners and some industry experts, we've put together the following points/pieces of information to shed some light on the situation. Rest assured, we are doing everything in our power to continue to be a reliable, efficient, and infallible supplier despite the devolving problem at the ports. Please review the points/best practices below to help us mitigate any extra fees, waits, and complications when arranging the transport of your orders. Remember, we are in this together!

  • Consider shipping large orders in separate parts.
    • In addition to the port congestion, there is also a severe lack of transport materials. Shipping large orders in 2-3 parts will make finding available space and obtaining better schedules easier. I know what you're thinking; usually, forwarders will advise the exact opposite: to bring your freight cost per part down. But FCL's are scarce, and getting goods to your door faster and more regularly is a better way to keep your business moving smoothly and prevent your customers from feeling the delays.
  • Bring goods in via Air Freight.
    • Shipping orders in smaller quantities via air instead of by ocean is a good way to ensure reasonable transit times, but please note that the airlines, like ocean liners, are not immune to the space shortages or delays that we are seeing. Yes, air freight is more expensive, but freight costs have already increased 5x over the past year to meet demand, and having the goods landed more quickly might be worth it.
  • Avoid large/crowded ports. 
    • Our midwestern friends were familiar with the headaches of getting goods out of Chicago Pre-pandemic, but what this is on another level. Instead of utilizing the nearest/largest port, consider one that is not so populated, and your goods may clear faster, thus making the extra resources spent on trucking and transloading goods worth the effort.
  • Forecast and place orders now. 
    • Need we say more? Placing orders now will spare you a lot of effort soon as the busy/holiday season approaches. As it is now, the situation is predicted to continue through March of 2022 or even longer.
  • If you use your own forwarders, preserve that relationship.
    • While it might be tempting to jump ship (no pun intended) and look for help from a new carrier or chase different quotes, this might not be in your best interest. Forwarders are so swamped that many are refusing new business and protecting their existing, long-term partnerships. Loyalty may play in your favor in these scenarios.

While we are all suffering due to the increased costs, we are not without hope. There is chatter that things in China ports are slowly improving. Hopefully, this improves the pace at ports around the world. In the meantime, below is an image from one of our forwarders showing the Port of Busan and the crowd of vessels waiting to load/unload. This image was a live update from Oct. 8th. The congestion is apparent, and for now, we are at its mercy.