If you’ve tried to furnish your home in the past two years, you’ve most likely run into issues with delivery times. Deliveries that would’ve once taken a couple of weeks are now pushed back for months.
These delays result from the global supply chain crisis that began in late 2020. Unfortunately, the indoor and outdoor furniture industries are still feeling the effects of the dilemma over two years later.
This article will help you understand how supply chain issues are wreaking havoc on furniture manufacturing and delivery times. We’ll focus on the outdoor furniture industry, so you’ll know how far in advance to order that new patio set.
- What the supply chain is
- How the supply chain issues started
- Why the furniture industry is still suffering
- How furniture companies are responding to the crisis
What Is the Supply Chain?
The supply chain is the series of activities required to get a product into customers’ hands. It begins with raw materials manufactured into a finished product, then shipped through various locations to end up in a store – or directly to the customer’s home.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply lists the following steps in the supply chain:
- Raw materials – base materials used to create a finished product
- Inbound logistics – the movement of raw materials to the manufacturing site
- Goods in the warehouse – goods used to make products arrive in a storage facility before manufacturing
- Manufacturing – materials are developed into a product
- Outbound warehouse – product moves to a warehouse to await delivery
- Outbound logistics – the movement of the final product from the warehouse to the consumer
- Consumer – product is delivered to the consumer
What Happened to the Supply Chain?
The supply chain crisis began in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic.
Production companies worldwide shut down to keep workers safe from the spreading virus. Meanwhile, consumers were confined to their homes – bored and looking for new ways to enhance where they’d spend all their time.
People couldn’t conveniently visit the grocery store or retailers, so they began placing online orders for everything from toilet paper and disinfectant wipes to furniture and jigsaw puzzles.
A high volume of purchases flooded a manufacturing industry that was at a halt, leaving cargo ships and trailers stuck in a supply chain traffic jam.
While the pandemic undoubtedly progressed supply chain issues, it wasn’t the only source of the crisis.
The supply chain consists of steps, so a domino effect occurs if one step is disrupted. Unfortunately, COVID-19 was only one of several issues adding to the perfect storm of global supply and demand delays.
Other contributing factors to the crisis include:
- Trucker shortage – The trucking industry saw a decrease in professional truckers in 2018. Many employees left the industry due to poor work conditions and burnout. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened these concerns, leading to a record high labor shortage in 2021.
- Lack of storage – Companies save money by reducing their need for storage. Fewer storage facilities mean fewer warehouse workers to pay and inventories to manage. This means companies must keep the supply chain moving at a near-constant rate to avoid backups.
Supply Chain Issues and the Furniture Industry
How the Furniture Supply Chain Crisis Started
The coronavirus pandemic hit, leaving consumers stuck at home.
People who transitioned to remote work began purchasing desks and chairs for their home offices. Those who wanted to continue having company began creating outdoor living spaces with comfort and social distancing in mind.
Meanwhile, furniture manufacturers overseas faced disruptions as factories shut down. With consumers bound to their homes rapidly placing furniture orders and manufacturing plants at a standstill, the backlog accumulated.
Even though the pandemic is fizzling and the global economy has picked back up, the furniture supply chain still faces a crisis.
Why the Supply Chain Crisis Is Still Affecting the Furniture Industry
The current problem for the furniture industry is that it can’t catch up on the backlog with the demand for products continuing to increase.
Business is picking back up in prominent furniture manufacturing countries like China and Vietnam, but the product still has to get to the consumers. Shipping containers packed with products are getting caught in the supply chain traffic jam – sitting in port for days waiting to be unloaded.
The Supply Chain’s Impact on the Outdoor Furniture Industry
This backlog affects indoor and outdoor furniture.
During the lockdown, consumers saved up funds they would have otherwise spent on travel and recreation. Now, they’re ready to use the expendable income for big purchases like new homes, remodeling, and furnishing outdoor living spaces.
Aside from the backlog of finished products unable to reach customers, manufacturers are also delayed getting the materials needed to build the furniture. Nuts, bolts, and even foam for cushioning are backed up in the supply chain, further delaying the entire process.
How Outdoor Furniture Retailers Have Responded to the Crisis
On March 15, the White House released a statement saying the Biden-Harris Administration is “addressing supply chain vulnerabilities and congestions, working to speed up the movement of goods, and lower costs for families.”
The White House isn’t the only establishment trying to revamp supply chain management. Furniture retailers are taking steps to improve the flow of finished products to their loyal and frustrated customers.
Century Furniture LLC has responded to the crisis by scaling back the number of samples in their stores, saying, “We want to ensure that every nail, spring, and piece of foam we have goes towards completion of customers’ orders.”
While decreasing the number of foam, carpet, and wood samples, many furniture retailers are increasing the number of finished products available in their showrooms. More extensive selections of readily available products allow the furniture stores to sell items to customers straight off the floor instead of placing shipping orders that could take months to arrive.
Otherwise, customers eager to get a custom piece or item unavailable in the showroom will just have to be patient.
Furniture sellers encourage people to place orders far in advance to combat this frustrating reality. You might need to place your order for an outdoor patio set in the winter to enjoy the furniture by summer.