Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.Sun Tzu
Sometimes I find myself in the midst of a challenge in business and wonder why things aren’t going as well as I would like. I think this quote pretty might provide a pretty good explanation.
Success is about planning and preparation before the war. You have a clearer mind and strategy that hopefully allows you to avoid some of the pitfalls. In business, often you feel like you have to jump in quickly, but sometimes problems can be avoided with better preparation.
In the box, a glass Malden Smartphone Picture Frame and a 11 pounds of liquid baby formula.
Who in their right mind thinks that a large glass picture frame is safe to ship with an 11 pounds of liquid baby formula? Some low wage packer at Amazon who most likely doesn’t care. The picture frame (a valentine’s day gift for my wife) was totally smashed with loose glass tinkling around inside the bubble wrap.
The box was half empty with only a little bit of crumpled paper as fill. With all that space, there’s no doubt the items were constantly being tossed back and forth during transit. No amount of bubble wrap could have protect the frame from damage.
America loves free shipping. As a consumer, I love free shipping. But shipping a product across the country is a real cost. So for Amazon to offer free shipping, costs are being cut in other places. Some of the savings can be made through efficiency but having low wage workers are definitely part of the equation.
Of course, Amazon is going to fix this for me by sending me a new frame and having me ship the old frame back. But, wouldn’t it be better to not have this problem in the first place? Amazon wants to be an aspirational brand, but having your final product being a poorly packed package reflects badly on the company.
Because of Amazon, it’s hard for a businesses to compete with the expectation of free shipping. But not all companies are willing to do because doing so would compromise service or forgo profit.
NYTimes.com: West Coast Labor Dispute Brings Crippling Delays to Seaports
This is the first mainstream reference that I have seen to a growing problem that most people know nothing about that could threaten the U.S. economy. The labor dispute between the Port owners and the longshoreman is causing major delays in the unloading of containers all along the West Coast. The longshoreman have been working without an agreement since July of last year and now the Port owners are accusing them of a slow down and are locking them out sporadically because they don’t want to pay for slow work. This has caused major disruptions in the supply chain of almost every business that involves trade with Asia.
My company has been impacted with two containers stalled for weeks. One in Tacoma, the other in Los Angeles. We have two more containers about to arrive outside of Los Angeles where they’ll be sitting next to 30 other container vessels waiting to be unloaded. The question we have is how many containers can we afford to pay for without getting merchandise to sell?
It’s hard enough to run a business without having something that you have no control over totally casting a shadow over your business. As it is, a quick resolution will leave a several month backlog, a prolonged labor showdown could cripple the economy.