All the Way From China

“Hey there! It’s nice to hear from you again.”

We’ve had a growing number of conversations in this vein lately. They’re from previous customers who are reaching out for help. They found cheaper pricing for their flexible packaging or merchandising products from overseas manufacturers.

We’ll be honest: it hurts to lose a customer. But business is about pricing and profit margins, and a return on investment. You can get a lower price if you are willing to factor in the addition of time for shipping from China. However, a global pandemic has turned things upside-down. Consumers have adopted an “I want it now” expectation, meaning that businesses have had to quickly transition to a just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing mode.

And suddenly, the added time of manufacturing and shipping all the way from China simply doesn’t work. The good news is that we’re still here and we can help. But let’s dive into what’s causing this headache in China. What’s behind the current shipping supply chain challenges?


It’s global

Fair is fair. This is not all about China. Supply chains all over the world have been disrupted by COVID-19. Let’s not forget the disruption caused by a single container ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal this past March.

China stands out for many because of its huge collection of manufacturing factories. Anything impacting the country would make the rest of the world take notice. When the pandemic began closing down parts of China, the import of raw materials and export of manufactured goods came to a halt.


China ocean freight

We could blame it on container ships, but that’s not the only way goods move around the world. Available air freight capacity quickly became gobbled up and more expensive. There simply aren’t enough cargo ships to go around. And let’s think about the yin and yang of cargo shipping.

Fewer ships leaving China mean fewer returning with empty containers. There currently is a huge shortage of shipping containers throughout China, in particular. Yes, you can order new containers—but there’s a backlog of up to six months.


China air freight

We’ve always flown more people than freight, and often, freight accompanied those people. There is and will remain a dramatically lower number of passenger flights to and from China, where your manufactured goods might be shipped out in the belly of a passenger flight. This was never a significant way to ship from China, but it’s been all but closed down, anyway.


China road and rail freight

Quarantines remain throughout most of the world. It’s an obstacle for moving manufactured goods to ocean terminals for shipping. But then again, there are fewer cargo ships available to receive freight that successfully manages to be delivered.

One solution might be the New Silk Road, a railway systemrunning through China, Russia, and the CIS countries to Europe. Remember those elusive containers for ocean shipping? The same obstacle comes to play for rail shipping. There just aren’t enough containers suitable for rail transport.


Domestic solutions

The supply chain logistics snarling manufacturing abroad will likely take years to solve. Meanwhile, domestic manufacturers are stepping forward to accommodate the demand. We can help.

Recently, we helped a 44-year-old custom printing and publishing company with a large order of adhesive backed pockets because their Chinese manufacturer was unable to fulfill the request by the deadline. We beat that deadline, and our client was impressed by our superior quality.

Vinyl Art has an established record of more than four decades creating flexible packaging and merchandising products for businesses of all sizes. Our Minneapolis location means there’s no concern about foreign shipping logistics. On-site, state of the art manufacturing equipment produces product sizes that many of our competitors—whether domestic or overseas—simply can’t handle. Plus, we keep even brand-new customized projects highly affordable because of an existing stock of more than 5,000 dies that we can reconfigure.



We’d love to connect with you!

Contact the Vinyl Art Team at 1-800-569-1304or