Coronavirus Quarantines Create Supply Chain Problems, Underscoring Need for Real-Time Information

A host of questions, or perhaps one central question, is trickling along the supply chain: What do you have in inventory, and how much?

The severity and uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus and its impact on public health is rightfully atop the minds of the international community.

The virus is also raising a host of business issues in the U.S. and worldwide as quarantines shut down factories and disrupt supply chains, The Wall Street Journal reported.

An immediate concern for US importers is that with overseas industrial output down significantly, inventory information has become unreliable. Distributors are unsure what’s available from suppliers and suppliers are unsure what’s available from importers.

A host of questions, or perhaps one central question, is trickling along the supply chain: What do you have in inventory, and how much?

And with more questions coming in and the answers becoming harder to provide, the ability to communicate Inventory Availability efficiently grows more important by the day.

Industry-Specific Inventory Availability

The promotional products industry has a ready-made solution for communicating Inventory Availability seamlessly.

The promotional products industry has a ready-made solution for communicating Inventory Availability seamlessly.

The Inventory Availability web service via the OrderTrax Network and PromoStandards provides inventory information automatically and electronically in near real-time. Suppliers with the service simply can send inventory information to distributors in an automated data feed.

While quarantined factories will cause some suppliers to field an increased number of phone calls and emails that need to be answered manually, those with the Inventory Availability web service will be answering automatically via a data feed that buyers can look simply look up.

With OrderTrax Fast-Track, the PromoStandards Inventory Availability web service can be setup in as little as one day.

Technology Mitigates Disruption

An efficient stream of inventory answers at a time when everyone else will only have more questions.

Promotional products suppliers and others have begun to talk and it sounds like the supply chain disruption will linger.

Suppliers are hearing from their own suppliers that some factories will be shut down at least through March. They’re also hearing that factories won’t be back to full production at least until the end of April. And that’s before accounting for backlogs of orders that come in between now and then — and of course presuming that the virus outbreak gets no worse.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the factory shutdowns come adjacent to the Lunar New Year, a holiday that drops China’s industrial output by about 20% every January and February. The Journal expected the factory shutdowns from the virus effectively to act as an indefinite extension of that annual lull — presuming, again, that the outbreak gets no worse.

There is little that a promotional products company can realistically do about the virus and its effects on the supply chain. But it can more efficiently provide answers as inventory questions continually arise.

Disasters can happen at any time and having the right technology in place can help mitigate the severity and impact.

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