We find ourselves, once again, facing shortages resulting from international supply chain disruptions, only this time e-commerce stores are unlikely to be spared. With cargo ships lined up and down the coasts, being denied entry to the port, some sit out at sea and others have been redirected to the gulf.

Shortages are showing up on grocery store shelves for many supplies imported from China. Walmart imports many of their products and is likely to disappointment holiday shoppers this season.

What’s causing the shortages?

If you listen to a variety of news sources, there seems to be quite a lot of finger-pointing. The current administration blames the unvaccinated. The truck drivers blame the crane operators. The mainstream media blames truck drivers. And some social media influencers say that imports from countries that interfered with the election are blocked from trading with the United States, resulting from an executive order signed by President Trump when he was in office.

The requirement that workers be vaccinated is a growing problem. Many are walking off the job or fighting the requirement with religious exemptions, class action lawsuits and protests. Refusing to comply has worked for some employees in situations where the employer could not continue to operate with the loss of its entire workforce.

How are businesses coping with shortages?

When supply chains are tight, having the right tools to save on labor, streamline processes and uncover waste are important for remaining competitive. Having a food and beverage inventory software tool is essential for tracking and tracing perishables. When lead times are slowed, you need alternative suppliers; the closer the location to yours, the more likely you’ll have timely deliveries.

If you’re not working with perishables, you ought to be stocking up on supplies. That may entail acquiring additional storage space. Shortages are also likely to drive up the costs of many products this fall. But, current shortages aren’t due only to lack of product availability. The wider the reach of the mandate requirement, the worse the labor shortage will become, and it’s only the beginning of the fall season when virus cases tend to rise.

Production requires not only material, but ample labor, too. Finding enough people to work when employees are making more money staying at home is a challenge unique to the Covid-19 outbreak. And having measures in place to assist with remote working, if possible, will make adapting to any new lockdown protocols easier to deal with.

Never have businesses faced so many unusual challenges in such a short period of time. Innovation is the key to survival. Networking with other professionals in your industry could open doors to solve common problems together, barter goods or create cooperative efforts. One thing is for sure – if you can survive the past year’s challenges, you will prosper when things go back to normal.

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