Lately, we’ve seen the headlines warning us to “Get your holiday shopping done now!” Even before the pandemic, working in the supply chain world was a challenge, especially during the peak holiday season. But this year, I’m hyperaware of the toll the pandemic has taken on our supply chains and the people behind the scenes working to deliver our orders in a timely manner.
To each person working in our industry—whether it’s in a boardroom, on a containership’s deck, in the cab of a truck, or on the DC floor—it’s important that you know that as a consumer, I appreciate your efforts to make my shopping experience the best it can be. And while thank-yous are welcome, I’m sure, I also promise you that I will do better when it comes to my attitude toward shopping experiences this holiday season and beyond.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of getting irritated when my shopping expectations haven’t been met. Last year, for example, I started my shopping early and placed an order the second week of November, fully expecting to receive my items well before Christmas. After sitting in an Indianapolis parcel hub for four weeks, my package was shipped and finally delivered at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Even though I knew that the supply chain was stressed, I was grumpy and considered sending a complaint to the shipper. But then, as I thanked the USPS mailwoman who was working late into the night that Christmas Eve, it hit me: My attitude needed an adjustment.
This sentiment stayed with me into the spring of 2021 when my son purchased a plush toy from China (he was so excited to use his birthday money). We talked to him about how purchasing goods has changed because of Covid and warned him that he shouldn’t expect his toy to be delivered anytime soon. He’s 12, so he wasn’t too concerned, but we wanted him to be aware of the supply chain process and all the people working to get his order to him.
In fact, we turned it into an adventure story. Every time my husband received a notification (i.e., the limited-edition plush toy had been manufactured, a shipping label had been created, a destination had been reached, etc.), we had fun talking about this toy’s adventures across the globe. My son learned about the supply chain process—from raw materials to delivery to our doorstep—and even made up an elaborate story about how his plush toy helped co-pilot the plane on its journey across Europe.
When the package arrived on our doorstep seven months later, we laughed about how this one toy had been to more locations around the world than we had! My son was overjoyed to get his toy, and it didn’t matter that it took so long to arrive.
So as I start this year’s holiday shopping, I’ve adjusted my expectations and my attitude. I will buy locally for the items I want to place under the tree. As for anything I order online, I will not complain if shipping dates change after I place an order and it doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas.
While most of us will not come in contact with the people behind the scenes working to get our packages delivered before the holidays, we can still be grateful for their efforts. I know I will silently thank everyone in the supply chain for the time, energy, and long hours they are bound to put in this year and into the future. It’s the least I can do to ease the stress of season.Happy shopping!