COVID-19 - supply problems persist

Wednesday 19th August 2020

Almost six months into the COVID-19 crisis and although we are able to supply most orders from local stock, international freight problems continue to cause disruption and mean that we can't always fill your orders as quickly as we'd like.

Order Fulfillment

The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented disruption to international air freight - to put it in perspective, this is by far the most significant disruption experienced in air freight since it became an important part of the international trading economy. There have been almost no international passenger flights since the crisis began which has meant that there is dramatically less air freight capacity leading to many delays with much more freight than capacity available, sky-rocketing air freight prices and regular cancellations due to overbooking and priority being given to urgent medical supplies. We talk with our freight partners almost every day and they are doing everything they can to keep things moving for us whilst working under huge stress.

Despite the delays we continue to bring most stock in by airfreight. However due to the massive increases in air freight costs several local distributors and publishers have decided to switch all or most of their imports to sea freight until further notice - this can mean up to a 3 month turnaround for some internationally published items not locally stocked. To spread our risk we have also switched some of our imports to sea freight but this is generally supplemental rather than replacing our air freight imports.

Whilst the situation in the UK has generally improved, the same cannot be said for the USA where the high levels of COVID-19 infections and the chaotic and inconsistent response has led to regular business shutdowns and reduced staffing plus big changes in working practices and some businesses have been simply unable to cope. We do our best to chase up our orders but in the current environment it can take days or even weeks to get a response. When orders do finally get dispatched they are then subject to unpredictable but often lengthy delays to get to the international freight depot as US domestic freight is overloaded and impacted by staffing shortages and restrictions.

When things finally arrive in Australia the situation is generally pretty good, but the shutdowns and restrictions in Victoria have obviously had an impact and added to the moderate delays in the local courier and Australia Post networks caused by unprecedented parcel volumes.

Hygiene and Virus Transmission

All the information from trusted/reliable sources tells us that transmission of the COVID-19 virus via parcels is extremely unlikely - this Washington Post article provides a good explanation. Despite the extremely low risk, we are adhering to the precautionary principle and have implemented the following protocols:

  • social distancing guidelines are being followed within our office
  • our team are washing hands thoroughly before handling resources and packing customer orders
  • all of our delivery partners have implemented additional protocols to minimise or eliminate contact during parcel delivery, eg. signatures are not now required and instead you will be asked for your name and the delivery driver will "sign" for you
  • surfaces in our office are thoroughly cleaned, at least daily
  • staff displaying any potential symptoms will be self-isolating and working from home

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and implement any additional measures as required to ensure business continuity and transmission risk minimisation.

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