You may have noticed empty shelves in stores, lower than usual stock availability online, and packages taking longer to arrive. You’re not the only one – stock and shipping delays are affecting businesses of all sizes and industries around the world... including baby products.
So, what’s going on and how might this affect your orders for prams, carseats and cots?
First, you need to understand how our supply chain works
Established in 1976, Anstel is a third-generation family-owned and operated business. Some of our products, such as Babyrest mattresses and pillows, are manufactured right here in Melbourne, Australia, whereas other products are sourced from around the world.
Stage One: Design and Testing
Long before we list something on our website, our team begins discussing designs and materials with manufacturing facilities located around the world to find the highest quality materials at the best price. The next step is thoroughly testing these designs against stringent Australian safety and quality standards - some of the strictest in the world.
Stage Two: Manufacturing
Once the design has been confirmed and tested, we place a production booking with the manufacturer. Depending on location and product, some of these facilities require upwards of three months' notice just to book the raw material allocation for bulk production. This timeline can be pushed out even further when raw materials such as timber are in high demand but low supply.
Stage Three: International Shipping
After the product has been designed and manufactured, we need to get it to our warehouse. Importing goods to Australia can typically take anywhere from three to eight weeks, depending on factors such as location, shipping port delays, wild weather and shipping container availability.
Stage Four: The Anstel Warehouse
Once the products have arrived at our warehouse in Melbourne, we’re on the home stretch! The products are organised and stored on-site, ready to be dispatched directly to customers and stockists via courier or postal service. We aim to dispatch all in-stock items within the next business day of you placing your order. This turnaround time does not apply to pre-orders, backorders or custom orders.
Stage Five: Domestic Shipping
Orders from our warehouse are sent across Australia, as well as to New Zealand, by truck, plane and ship. Delivery times vary, depending on how far (and remote) the location is from Melbourne.
So, what causes delays?
There are various factors that can contribute to delays at each of the five stages mentioned above.
When it comes to manufacturing, increased demand for raw materials such as timber (caused by building spikes), combined with a decreased supply due to Covid-19 shutdowns and countries changing supply partners, can cause delays before the product is even made.
Meanwhile, shipping timelines can be affected by factors such as increased demand as supply chains change rapidly due to political pressures, lack of empty shipping containers available at certain ports, not to mention any significant wild weather events.
The pandemic has further compounded these delays significantly. If teams at any point throughout the supply chain, such as manufacturers, truck drivers, or warehouse workers are exposed to Covid-19 and need to isolate (often for over a week at a time), delays can ripple throughout the rest of the supply chain.
How the switch to online orders is changing the game
Even once the products have made it to Australia, we have seen increased strain on domestic shipping as local couriers and postal services struggle to handle the volume of online shopping during peak holiday seasons and, over the past few years, due to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
This large-scale shift to online shopping has seen the distribution network between consumer product manufacturers and end-users change significantly. Typically, stock would be stored in bulk in a large warehouse, before being transported in smaller bulk (e.g. boxes of six) to retailers, where it is then sold in single quantities to the end-user.
Now however, these bulk warehouses are having to process and dispatch single-item orders - each one picked and packed individually, before sending tiny, individually addressed parcels to residential homes by vans, instead of to large, commercial warehouses by the truckload. As you can imagine, it will take a while for the global distribution network to catch up and adapt to this new purchasing landscape.
Steps we’ve taken to combat delays
In early 2021, our team decided to significantly increase our onsite stock holdings of imported products to ensure stock availability and decrease both ‘expected’ and unexpected delays.
As a result of this preplanning, delays for our customers are rare. However, in the event of delays, our team goes above and beyond to meet our customers’ expectations, communicating any delays early and discussing options like substitutes or even loaning a display model where necessary.
How Australian-made and imported products differ when it comes to delays
One of the (many) benefits of choosing Australian-made products is the shorter lead time you get by cutting out significant travel time and dependency on the international supply chain. Our Melbourne manufacturing facility can have high-quality products ready for dispatch within as little as one to two weeks, in comparison to the average four to five months when imported from an international production facility.
Discover how our Babyrest DuoCore mattresses are made below:
What to do if you experience significant delays
Delays or no delays, we know that babies wait for no man (or courier). To ensure baby doesn’t arrive before your essential items do, the best thing you can do is plan ahead where possible and allow more time for important products to arrive.
We highly suggest planning for everything to be delivered four to six weeks ahead of your due date - if baby decides to make an early entrance, you don’t want to be stressing about a car seat that hasn’t arrived yet! For furniture, we recommend allowing eight to ten weeks for shipping (order four months from due date) and four to six weeks for prams and car seats (order three months from due date).
As parents ourselves, our team recognises that many anxieties can exist around preparing for your baby, and that these can be heightened with unexpected delays. We’re here to help. If your order is experiencing delays, you can contact our team to discuss the best solution for your situation.
For great customer service that gives you peace of mind, you can speak directly to one of our team members between 8am and 5pm AEST weekdays, and we usually respond to email enquiries within one business day.
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