By Stephanie Humphrey
While the pandemic has had a devastating effect on the availability of everything from cars to cereal, the domino effect of the supply chain crisis we are experiencing right now has been brewing for decades.
In simple terms, the global supply chain is the pathway of manufacturing, transportation, and logistics that gets goods from where they are manufactured, mined, or grown to where they are going to be sold. Past company practices of holding minimal inventory in warehouses to save money has now, because of the pandemic, become one of the major pain points in a process that has seen too few workers, few available shipping containers, and hundreds of ships stuck off our respective coasts with items waiting to be unloaded.
The supply chain crisis has also caused a severe microchip shortage that has affected the way we’ll be buying our technology this holiday season, and here’s what you need to know.
Start shopping NOW: It’s barely Halloween, but your holiday tech shopping probably should have started a month ago or more. Waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals might not be an option for most technology products. Companies like Apple are expected to cut production on some of their most popular items like the iPhone, so inventory may not just be delayed, it might be nonexistent. Some experts are predicting that we won’t see measurable relief to this supply chain crisis until the 2022 holiday season – and possibly into the summer of 2023 – so if you can afford to start shopping now, don’t wait.
Be prepared to pay more: There is a microchip in every single electronic device you own. And because of the shortage, you can expect to pay as much as 10% higher or more than you would have even six months ago. You can also expect to pay more for your own shipping as well, as the U.S. Postal Service has already announced that prices on commercial and retail domestic packages will increase from October 31 through December 26.
Consider buying used: If it’s more important for you to have a specific item than it is to have a new item, buying refurbished could be the way to go. Best Buy, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Nintendo, and more major brands have pages on their websites where you can purchase refurbished products. Websites like BackMarket and eBay are also good options as well. The products are usually factory-certified to “like-new” condition and most come with a warranty. And not only will you get what you’re looking for at a discount, you might actually be able to get a device with better specs than you could afford had you purchased new. Buying used also means buying green, so your purchase is helping the environment, too.
Beware of scams: Scam sellers are always a problem, but with this year’s severe shortages and the desperation that comes with finding the ‘perfect’ gift for the holidays, we could see record numbers of reports about counterfeit products. Stick to trusted websites and well-known brands when you shop. Also, check with organizations like the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission for reports of scams and remember – if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The holiday season may look a little different this year, but with some advance planning and research, you don’t have to let supply chain chaos ruin yours!
Stephanie Humphrey is a former engineer turned tech-life expert and author. She is a contributor to ‘Good Morning America’ and Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia.” You can find Stephanie all around the web @TechLifeSteph and get her book “Don’t Let Your Digital Footprint Kick You in the Butt!” on Amazon.