3 Ways to Sidestep Supply Chain Challenges (Even If You’re a Niche Brand)

3 Ways to Sidestep Supply Chain Challenges – 3 minute read 

It’s the 2021 mid-year point and logistics are crazy. 


North American ports are experiencing all-time high volumes. South China container and staffing shortages are causing mayhem. Importers and retailers across the globe are scrambling to find shipping space or faster routes.


And it’s likely to last at least another six months. 


While there’s no way to completely sidestep today’s supply chain disruptions, here are three ways to get product home, within your 2021/2022 sales window.

1. When You Can’t Buy a Boat, Ship by Air

Unless you’re Home Depot, air cargo it is. While air freight space is limited and expensive, so are container rates now. Retailers and importers are turning to the sky for critical products needed urgently.

Case in point: We’re seeing companies breaking up orders and air shipping a portion of high demand inventory. If you’re a niche brand working directly with a factory, you have next to no clout securing space and negotiating air freight pricing.

When you have partnerships with freight-on-board manufacturers, like JJM, who have strong supply chain experience and transportation relationships, there’s room for creative delivery solutions, no matter your size.

2. KISS. Keep Inventory Simple Short-Term.

The beauty of working with an overseas apparel manufacturer is the degree of customization possible. However, if you’re a niche retailer dealing with an apparel factory directly, it’s a risky time to be sourcing new materials and complicated custom decorating. 

At the best of times, custom work takes longer. With factories struggling to meet inventory demands, established manufacturers and brands with higher volumes get priority.  If you are dealing directly with a factory, keeping product design/decorating simple can help expedite production.

Case in point: We recently helped a niche brand source a specific elastic for a new lingerie line. This would have been an extremely risky and incredibly slow process had they worked directly with a factory. JJM simplified their process and navigated the many steps required to get samples designed and production started.

3. A Reckoning is Coming. Until Then…Plan Ahead.

You can toss normal lead time planning out the window. Due to shipping volatility, we are recommending clients bump up their lead time window as much as possible. Right now we’re starting Spring 2022 lines. 

Managing existing inventory while forecasting multichannel sales might be the hardest job on the planet today. We know it’s not easy. On the positive side, industry experts including NPD Research see a boom in retail sales as folks update their lockdown wardrobe, especially in children’s and women’s wear.

Having ongoing challenges with your suppliers? It might be time for a change. With new players entering the apparel industry every year, it’s important to do your homework. Start researching reliable apparel partners with a proven end-to-end manufacturing process, agility and transportation infrastructure.  

We want to help. Book an initial no obligation phone consultation to learn how JJM Custom Apparel Manufacturing can strengthen your apparel supply chain.