How the tightening of the supply chain caused by the pandemic could actually help some small businesses | Radio-Canada News


Around the same time last year, Winnipeg entrepreneur Obby Khan launched, an online portal that allows shoppers to browse a variety of products and services from local businesses, group them together as they see fit. wish and have them delivered to their door.

The initiative was so successful that it introduced the concept to the brick-and-mortar retail world this season, opening a physical store in the Winnipeg Stock Exchange district.

“The timing is perfect, just with the Christmas holiday season approaching,” he said.

Khan’s sales pitch and motivation at the launch was simple: People want to support local businesses whenever they can, so let’s make it as easy as possible, when they need it most.

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The nearly $ 1 million in sales that Khan’s Passion Project has made since its launch have been a welcome lifeline for local businesses in need. But along the way, Khan says the initiative uncovered an unexpected secret weapon that local businesses had from the start – perhaps unknowingly: They also buy local.

Supply chain problems caused by COVID-19 have shaken markets for everything from toilet paper To semiconductors and lumber. But Khan says most of the local businesses he works with have managed to find their way, as they tend to use locally sourced supplies themselves.

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Buying early always encouraged

“The beauty of local support is that the supply chain is not a huge factor for us. A lot of these sellers get their products locally. They make it by hand. They buy in small quantities,” he said. he declares. “Everyone’s talking about the supply chain and the issues and importing products overseas… We don’t need all of these products. “

The Etsy online marketplace, which primarily works with small businesses to help them sell their products beyond their local markets, has detected the same trend, especially as Black Friday approaches.

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“Our salespeople are also well positioned during this busy time, when many big box retailers face supply chain disruptions as many of them are not dependent on major manufacturing,” Dayna said. Isom Johnson, Etsy Trends Expert.

Because of this, there are still offers for the holiday season, Johnson said, reporting that she has seen discounts of up to 60% from some Etsy vendors.

That’s not to say it’s business as usual, however. The site has extended its three-day seasonal sale event this year, she said, “to meet seasonal shoppers’ demand and encourage shoppers to start their holiday shopping early.”

Mirna Saffouri, of La Vie en Rose, says supply chain issues have forced the retailer to rethink its promotional strategy this holiday season. (Simon Martel / TBEN)

Although it sees itself as a proud local Canadian company, Montreal-based lingerie chain La Vie en Rose says it has not been immune to the supply chain tightening that its much bigger competitors have. felt keenly.

At the start of the pandemic, demand for swimwear plummeted and never really recovered, said Mirna Saffouri, the chain’s vice president of marketing. But that was offset by an increase in sales of loungewear, and now the retailer is seeing an increase in bras and lingerie again.

While it’s great to see demand booming, this presents its own set of issues.

“We are very proud to be a Canadian company and to design everything in-house … [but those designs] are produced overseas, ”Saffouri said. “We are having supply chain issues as the holidays approach, as are many retailers. “

As the holiday shopping season kicks off, some retailers are adopting a strategic strategy for their Black Friday sales, due to global supply chain issues. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Typically at this time of year, La Vie en Rose would have already shipped all of its seasonal stock – around 150 containers of merchandise – and it would have arrived in October. But the supply chain crisis is so acute right now that 18 containers have yet to arrive, which means the chain has around 12% less to sell right now.

There aren’t any empty shelves yet, but Saffouri said the squeeze means the retailer has definitely changed its sales strategy. Instead of running special Black Friday deals, they make sure that customers have a wide choice of products.

“We have been less promotional in the last few months and are selling a much more regular price in order to control inventory levels,” she said.

Normally, the channel may run additional deals on Cyber ​​Monday, when seasonal promotions go live. But they won’t do it this year either, given the constraints on their inventory.

“What we don’t want are people coming in here and seeing empty shelves. If that means selling more at a regular price, I think that’s the strategy we’ll employ,” Saffouri said.

Buying the local movement has legs

Back in Winnipeg, Khan said he won’t spend a lot of time worrying about empty shelves this weekend, because ensuring long-term durability is what matters to him. He says he’s always hated Black Friday – and the fact that it encourages people to spend money on “things they don’t need.”

“It’s a day,” he said. “It doesn’t really help these small businesses.… We have to be mindful of these businesses and support them all year round.”


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