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It's hard to describe the shock of seeing empty store shelves.
In most Western countries running out of supplies is something that hardly ever happens.
But since the rise of COVID-19, panic buying has left gaping holes in retailers' stock while closed borders, grounded flights and accelerated demand causes noticeable gaps in the supply chain.
Georgia-Pacific, the US paper-product manufacturer that make AngelSoft and Quilted Northern brand toilet paper said hoarding due to COVID-19 stress caused “a significant increase in orders beginning last week... as high as two times our normal demand."
The sale of hand sanitizer has also gone up; a startling 1400% between December and January.
However, that doesn't mean that supplies aren't on the way.
In fact, many brands and city officials insist that there is no shortage of food or TP, it just looks that way because of the extreme amounts of goods stashed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wouldn't it help if stressed retailers and anxiety-ridden consumers had access to more reliable information?
Right now, Georgia-Pacific and other "loo-roll" brands like Essity in the UK are working through existing excess inventory and expanding production in order to meet consumer demand.
"...there's plenty of toilet paper to go round, and capacity to make more - so there's no need to panic, says Tony Richards of Essity.
This gigantic toilet roll will be cut into 10,000 regular rolls and delivered to shop shelves near you.
And, did I mention the Brexit-inspired overstock?
Tom Enright, research vice president of global retail supply chain at Gartner says a, "...fair number of companies are dipping into the reserves set up last year in preparation for a potential no-deal Brexit scenario. They have had unusual levels of inventory already. Most of them will have a few weeks [worth]. The bigger challenge now is whether the stock is in the right place."
Even if companies around the world could build a factory overnight and double the production of out of stock items like bathroom tissue and pasta, it would be needless; as soon as the immediate threat is over people will be left with the year's supply they've just purchased, causing an immediate drop in demand.
It's called supply-chain bullwhip effect and it's something to avoid if we want our economy to regain equilibrium post-pandemic.
Production companies, and transport and logistic firms, might be in touch with the reality of our reservoirs, but consumers definitely are not.
Businesses need an accurate, real-time tool to communicate what, where, when and how our goods are coming.
Enter in HERE's Tracking API.
Speaking with Peter Kueth, HERE Technologies' Head of Product Marketing , about the current strain on global supply chains he stated, "With HERE Tracking, we can reassure longevity of supplies."
HERE's Tracking tools can provide everyone from production to retail with detailed information about how much merchandise is in storage, where it is being kept and when it will arrive.
End-to-end visibility puts retailers in a more knowledgeable position as they will have a more educated idea of how supply chains are managing and what the demand structure looks like because of real-time, reliable data sets. Customers will be comforted knowing that shopkeepers have access to detailed data that reveals no shortage of supply.
"We can help store managers say exactly when more supplies are coming in," says Kueth.
Tracing resources is beneficial beyond knowing the amount, location and ETA of your shipment, it includes being able to take action and redirect stock to oversee sudden changes: like unexpected increases in demand.
Stay on top of your supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic. HERE's Tracking API can help you keep product on shelves.