The Global Supply Chain and how it has Affected Furniture

The Global Supply Chain and How It Has Affected Furniture

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped spur much more than widespread sickness. The virus has left a wake of social and economic upheaval that is still affecting the daily lives of nearly everyone on the planet, including us at Michael’s Discount Furniture. Of course, staying healthy is always our primary focus, but we are also juggling a variety of other challenges, such as increased demand, manufacturing delays caused by outbreaks and staffing shortages, and logistical bottlenecks at ports and trucking lanes. Chances are you are facing some or all of these same hurdles within your business.

Thankfully, the global supply chain is slowly grinding back to speed. But until we get there, there are a few things we are doing to help reduce order wait times for our customers. Below are a few specifics on the ongoing issues within the furniture industry, and how we are addressing them to keep our customers happy.


How the pandemic has affected the supply chain

Furniture companies of all sizes have felt the pain of COVID-19. From the onset of the virus, lockdowns and staffing shortages virtually shut down the movement of all sorts of things people need, including furniture. And no one was really prepared for it. The consequences became jammed shipping ports, a massive backlog of purchase orders, major delays in trucking and rail transport, and unheard-of lead times for ordering and receiving a product. With nearly two years into the pandemic, these issues are still being felt across numerous industries.


Increased demand for home goods and furniture

Of course, the low availability of a product means the demand for it automatically becomes higher. This was especially the case for the furniture industry, where suddenly millions of families needed to re-shape their homes into makeshift offices and classrooms. This led to an explosive (and entirely unplanned) demand for furniture and home goods like we have never seen. Household budgets switched gears in an instant to buying up all the desks, office chairs, filing cabinets, bookcases, and office and school-related accessories we could offer.


Delay in production

The business might have started booming, but the delays in production from our manufacturers quickly became an ongoing headache. We absolutely do not like telling customers their orders are getting pushed back (in some cases multiple times). Textiles and wood saw lead times extend to one or two months, and then of course once assembly is complete, the products then have to run the gauntlet of a bogged down logistical maze before it finally arrives at our facility. While many manufacturers have increased production hours and hired additional staff, delays are still a reality in our industry and it is not unlikely that we could see similar challenges linger well into 2022.

Further delay due to significant congestion at local receiving ports

As previously mentioned, the backup at shipping ports due to short staff and shutdowns has resulted in a very healthy delay in the flow of products to furniture stores around the country, us included! This unrelenting pressure puts constraints on our ability to stock and deliver furniture and has also led to an uptick in pricing. It is believed that after the 2021 holiday season some of this congestion will ease but it is looking a bit uncertain as to when the availability of even the most common home goods items will be as cheap and as readily available as they were pre-pandemic.


How the supply chain is improving

Supply chain woes are starting to fade as the world has had almost two years to adapt to operating under these newfound pandemic-related challenges. As industries pivot to ensure improved employee health and safety and can maneuver new regulations and impositions put in place by governments, the flow of goods will steadily improve. Until the pandemic is really over, however, it is hard to say just how much better things will really get. We are hopeful that local entrepreneurs and manufacturing companies will rise to the challenge of supporting the local and regional economies, reducing the dependency on far-off, foreign suppliers and distributors. This approach will take time as well, however, as local business people and governments develop the infrastructure to bring local manufacturing back into the area.


What Michael's Discount Furniture is doing to help our customers

Thankfully there are a few short-term strategies we have been able to leverage to help reduce lead times for our current customers and curtail some of the supply chain blockages.

Michael’s Discount Furniture is purchasing larger quantities of products and taking full advantage of our large warehouse to ensure products orders are filled as quickly and completely as possible. We have also implemented a recurring rotation of incoming stock, and we are placing monthly orders for our most popular products and collections to ensure those are always ready to ship as well. With more stock incoming at all times, we are able to let customers know if they do place an order, they aren’t purchasing something that may or may not actually ever ship. The item is in fact real and will be shipped out or made available for pickup as quickly as possible.

Another strategy we have implemented is weekly meetings with regional representatives with our biggest suppliers in which we review outstanding customer orders. This allows us to maintain a clear picture of current, near future, and future needs and inventory and make improvements to our supply chain wherever possible. By keeping a close watch on orders and availability, and by keeping in close contact with our vendors and other partners, we are able to prioritize stock (especially on order cancellations) for our longest waiting customers. This helps keep products moving and customers happy and has proven to be very effective in keeping up with current demand.

We would like to thank each and every one of our valued customers for hanging in there with us as we all navigate the strangeness of these very unique economic times together. We would not be here without your support and trust, and we appreciate you choosing Michael’s Discount Furniture so much.

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