BC (Before Covid), obtaining shipping supplies was a routine chore for online sellers. Now it has become a challenge, as Jason Archambault can attest. His company, Fastpack Packaging, has been offering boxes, mailers, bubble wrap, and other shipping supplies to online sellers for over two decades. But last year was unlike any other, he told EcommerceBytes.
“We offer over 15,000 different Shipping related sku’s, and over the last year, we have had more issues receiving product from suppliers than ever before,” he said.
Prior to 2021, 1% or less of all the orders he placed would be affected by out-of-stock issues – and even then, those orders might be delayed by only two to three days until the item was back in stock.
In 2021, that number was in the double digits, Archambault said. Some products were out-of stock – and therefore unavailable to Fastpack customers – for days, weeks, or longer.
“This has not been unique to us or even our industry,” he said. “We have seen even the largest of our competitors have similar issues, and sometimes we have been able to help their customers looking for stock, and vice versa.”
What’s behind the problem? His suppliers have cited numerous issues: quarantines and illness causing staff and supply shortages; delays in receiving raw materials to produce the goods; and dock delays at the ports.
In October, Business Insider reported that the US was running out of cardboard and packaging materials as the supply chain crisis dragged on.
Even the Post Office may be experiencing supply chain issues with the free shipping supplies it offers to customers. Sellers recently noticed they could no longer order USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes on the USPS website; the product page returned after our inquiry, with a spokesperson confirming the disappearance and return of the padded envelopers but offering no explanation.
While Archambault has continued to see higher than normal delays in receiving orders from suppliers, he’s starting to see signs that things may be starting to stabilize.
Online sellers face a lot of challenges, but getting basic supplies to ship orders isn’t supposed to be one of them.