-Claire van ’t Hof-

I’ve found and summarized an article about Black Friday and because this day almost takes place (November 25), it might be interesting to read. For those who are not familiar with this topic, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day which has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United states. Most major retailers have extended opening hours and offer promotional sales.

For supply chain professionals, it is the ultimate test of preparedness. Especially when a company’s freight needs to cross-oceans, it is critical to plan for the Christmas season well in advance. After a purchase order is placed, it takes roughly 25 to 30 days for ocean containers to leave Asia, travel the ocean, clear customs and ship from the US port to the final destination.

During the busy season leading up to Black Friday and Christmas holidays, supply chains can seem downright fragile. One disruption, for example a weather-related incident, a sudden shift in consumer demand or a business impact can make the entire supply chain come to a halt. A great example of a recent business impact is the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy. Hanjin Shipping is a South Korean integrated logistics and container transport company. They collapsed at August 31 of this year, after months of trying to raise liquidity and restructure its debt and gain control of their containers. Hanjin Shipping’s collapse is by far the largest container shipping bankruptcy in history and the consequences will continue to reverberate throughout international supply chains and the transportation sector.

If a company does experience delays that stem back to the Hanjin bankruptcy, it is not impossible that their products won’t make it to the shelf by Black Friday. In this case, a company should talk to their third party logistics provider (3PL) about trans-loading or expedited airfreight services as options to help the product get where it needs to be. Unfortunately, it is hard to determine when supply chain disruption from the Hanjin bankruptcy will end, as there are many moving parts. The key, as always, is to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry. It is important to know which alternative means of transportation are available, in case there is such a disruption.