The Supply Chain Explained | An Interview With Lana Constantine

Lana Constantine

You may have seen on the news, read in the paper or experienced in real-time that there is something going on with the supply chain in America. If you were a little bit confused about exactly what that means, this article is for you. 

We spoke to Lana Constantine, Gardenuity Senior Vice President, and our resident supply chain expert, about what exactly the supply chain is, what’s happening with it and when we can expect a return to normalcy. 

What is the supply chain?

The supply chain is what we need to manufacture, assemble and deliver the products that we have. That includes all the components that go into the products that we sell, down to the most basic things like tape and paper boxes for packaging. The other part of the chain is getting raw materials from where they originated, to our vendors and then, eventually, to the consumer. 

What is going on with the supply chain right now?

There are shortages for a lot of raw materials and workforce. There’s an issue of getting a lot of things that are manufactured overseas to the US and then, once they get to the US, there is a humongous backlog of getting the shipping containers off of the ships, into shipyards, onto trains and trucks, etc. It’s just a whole breakdown. 

Why is this happening right now?

You know, it takes a chain of unfortunate events to create the supply chain issues we are currently facing. The pandemic hit in several ways. First, factories and containers were focused on creating and shipping PPE globally whether they were in that business or not. Next, came an economic slow down, furloughs, quarantines and uncertainty. As things started to open back up in some form or another, consumers had really switched to online shopping, increasing the need for packaging and shipping. Sprinkle in, the Suez Canal blockage, a labor force shortage and huge backlog in the American ports, you have a perfect storm. Noise ordinances in some locations prevent them from running the shipyards 24 hours a day to get rid of the backlog, it just keeps exacerbating the problem. 

How is this affecting Gardenuity in particular?

Gardenuity Container Garden Shipment

Good are in short supply, but the demand is still really high. The prices of materials has increased by 10-40% across the board. The prices of shipping goods from overseas has increased up to 4 times from what it was a year ago and the delivery time is at least twice as long with no guarantees.

Gardenuity has strong relationships with our vendors/partners and we are trying to help each other succeed. We plan ahead, leverage our relationships and diversify our suppliers to make sure we have options. We want to be prepared for our customers, corporate partners and keep the wheels moving. The best part of our company are the stories we can share about our vendor and customers.

What does this mean for shopping this holiday season?

What I have noticed is that people are ordering more online than they were previously before COVID-19. Because online shopping is the new standard, we run into issues with things like cardboard boxes and shipping. 

If you do want to shop online this holiday season, I say to order early and plan ahead. Last-minute ordering is not going to be great for anybody. It’s not so much the retailer’s fault when products aren’t arriving on time because, many times, we don’t have our own truckers making deliveries nationwide and can only depend on the logistics companies. 

How is Gardenuity prepared to stay ahead of the supply chain woes during the holidays?

We planned ahead. We ordered a lot of all of our packaging way in advance to make sure that we were prepared for the holiday season. We also went out and found new vendors and backup vendors for most of our core products, so that if we can’t get something from one vendor, we can get it from another.

We’ve tried to solidify great relationships with UPS and FedEx, and we worked to understand the situations in which it’s best to use express or when to use the ground. However, for the most part, everything that we ship is a live good–plants, flowers, etc. We pack our boxes in a way that means they can withstand some trauma. We wish we could send everything floating on a cloud of cotton! 

What is the best way to shop Gardenuity this holiday season?

Lana Constantine & Fed Ex

My suggestion is to, again, order sooner rather than later. Do not wait until the last minute. And, if you’re local to Dallas, TX, come in and pick up your order in person to avoid shipping all together. This applies to most in-person stores as well. Coming in store, you cut out the shipping hassle. 

When do you see the issues with the supply chain ending?

Not for a while. With things like new coronavirus variants still spreading across the world and increasing globalization, these problems will likely continue for a bit. I think we need to look at this as a difficult part of our commerce ecosystem and be reminded to take care of every single person working to promote it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.