Post-crisis toy making challenges
The past 12 months have create a number of issues and questions for making toys - both inflatables and fabric dakis/blankets - which you can get in our store. This is not something that can be explained in one or even several short tweets, hence the blog post in an effort to shed some light on what many have experienced as shipping delays, price increases and longer lead times for projects in the recent past.
Needless to say that I can safely blame the disruptions experienced in early to mid-2020 on the Corona-crisis, but the world economy has now adapted to the situation (or in some respects hasn't). We're seeing the emergence of a "new normality" (to use that problematic phrase) that is bound to be with us for some time.
In a nutshell, the globalised economy, upon which much of what we make has relied over the past 3 decades, is being squeezed and transformed by protectionism and great power rivalry, which is now being aggravated by a sudden post-crisis increase in demand for resources, production and transportation capacities. Many of these had been wound down in 2020 and now new arrangements are now breaking up old patterns of global trade and with it the pricing models that went with the pre-crisis supply chain models.
How does that affect you getting your favourite inflatable or daki?
China will remain an important supplier in the global economy (and for anyone who wants PVC inflatables), but as their internal consumption increases and trade barriers eleswhere go up, things "Made in China" will increase in price. Alternatives may present themselves, but those too will carry higher price tags than what we're used to from the past. Some price increases will be inevitable, although I will work on creating tax exemptions for buyers outside the EU and the US to offest some of this.
Transport and especially air cargo capacities will remain scarce and expensive for the forseeable future. Although some services, like DHL, have already taken back part of their "crisis surcharges", mail services - particularly express services - will remain expensive and will get more expensive. "Standard" mail is now being shipped by sea for many long-haul routes with mail-run times from Europe to the US or Oceania exceeding 60 days in some cases. A lot of stuff gets lost in ocean freight too, so supply chain reliability is taking a hit as well.
The lockdowns in many countries have pushed many businesses online. The internet and tech giants are now in the comfortable situation that demand for their services/products is so high that they can set the terms and prices almost at will. Shopify (on which this store runs) and some of my payment providers have already indicated that transactions will become more expensive in 2021. Perks for sellers, like free-of-charge refunds, will disappear, so these costs too will have to be priced into the products.
If this sounds like less service at a higher cost, then you're right. That is, unfortunately, the new normal, and unless you have the weight or numbers of Amazon and the like, this is what small business will have to live with for a while until more solutions for SMEs come to the market at affordable prices.
Finally: we'll of course do our best to continue to bring unique, artsy, fun and sometimes kinky stuff to you for your enjoyment. Being creative means we'll be spending a lot of time working with our artists and designers - that is often time that competes with making all our processes perfect. It is not a circle we manage to square perfectly. So, please bear with us if things don't always go off hitch-free or if things take a little longer than you'd expect or than you are used to from earlier times.