Supply Chain Disruptions Are Affecting Global E-commerce – Here's What to Know

It’s a good bet you've already heard at least a little about the supply chain issues that are making it hard to access certain kinds of products and materials, and causing delays in manufacturing and shipping all around the world. Created by a confluence of factors including pandemic-related changes to consumer demand, worker shortages, and the ripple effects of COVID on a globally interconnected economy, the "Great Supply Chain Disruption" has become an emblem of the increasing unpredictability of the modern world.

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These issues are global, and they’re affecting projects of every type and size.

We know there are creators on Kickstarter who are seeing the effects of this disruption begin to take hold in ways that are altering the timelines they're planning for upcoming projects—or causing fulfillment delays for projects already underway. If you're a creator who will rely on the complex network of people, resources, goods, and services that make up the global supply chain, you may be wondering about the best way to move forward with your project.

First, know that you're not alone. These issues are being experienced by creators of every kind, in every industry, in every part of the world. Know also that many of your backers will by now be familiar with these complications. Many already realize that slower than usual delivery times are to be expected, and that longer timetables are not necessarily due to poor planning but to factors beyond anyone's control.

That said, there are a couple of things we highly recommend doing to set proper expectations and mitigate the potential for any stress between you and all the excited backers out there who are eager to get their hands on your work.

If you haven’t launched yet, build shipping delays into your plans.

If you haven't launched your project yet, you should consider extending your estimated deliveries well beyond what you might have considered previously. Our research shows that while customers don't like it when rewards are delayed, longer estimated delivery times don't negatively affect their willingness to buy products. In other words, as long as they know what to expect up front, customers aren't typically too bothered by having to wait.

Obviously, how much you should extend the estimated delivery of your rewards depends on the kind of project you're doing, the number of items you're producing, the complexity of the manufacturing, and the locations you're sourcing production from. While turnaround times for some smaller items, like enamel pins, don't seem to be too badly delayed at the moment, we've seen reports that products ranging from books to hardware can take many months longer than usual to be delivered. Be realistic when setting your estimated deliveries, knowing that shipping delays will be outside of your control. Give yourself extra time. And remember that it's always better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.

If your campaign is live or you’re currently working to fulfill your project, over-communicate.

It’s always a good idea to be extra communicative with your customers. Be open, honest, proactive, and clear about the factors that may ultimately contribute to slower fulfillment times than folks might have enjoyed in the past. Again, many customers will already be familiar with the recent news about the global supply chain disruption, but they'll appreciate hearing directly from you and getting an honest assessment of what to expect.

For example, Lululemon, and WISKII Active recently posted an update to backers that does an excellent job communicating about the supply chain issues they’re dealing with.

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If you’re a customer, extend your support.

If you're a customer and you're reading this—well, first of all, thank you for helping creative projects come to life. That's an awesome thing to do and you're amazing for doing it. And in the spirit of being awesome and amazing, we hope you'll be willing to extend a little extra grace to the creators on Shopify whose projects you’ve backed. Even in normal times, making and delivering something new, creative, and ambitious is a challenging thing to do. For the time being, it might take creators a little while longer to deliver their projects, but if you're willing to hold tight, it's usually worth the wait.

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