The pandemic disrupted every aspect of our lives, and the interior design sector was no exception. Even months after a “so-called” normalization period, delays are still prevalent in our industry causing timing and supply chain issues. From sourcing materials, increased prices and delivering finished products, COVID made it challenging to complete projects on time and within budget. The design world had to pivot and adjust current processes (and expectations) in order to adjust to this new normal. If a design project is on the horizon or if you are currently in the middle of one, these are some of the post pandemic supply chain challenges that you can expect.
Post Pandemic Supply Chain Challenges
- Delays in raw material supply: The pandemic has caused significant delays in the supply of raw materials such as fabrics, metals, wood and plastics. Many suppliers have experienced factory closures or reduced capacity due to safety protocols, which has led to longer lead times for orders. This challenge heavily affects the construction phase of many projects.
- Shipping disruptions: The pandemic has also caused significant disruptions to global shipping networks. Quarantine measures, port closures, and reduced flight schedules have all contributed to delayed or canceled shipments causing delivery dates to become an unpredictable moving target.
- Increased transportation costs: Transportation costs have risen significantly due to higher fuel costs. Airlines and cargo ships have increased freight rates, not to mention the shortage of shipping containers. As a result, the cost of transporting goods has increased significantly causing that increase to be ultimately trickled down to the consumer.
- Increased lead times: Due to the above factors, lead times for many interior design products have increased. Lighting, furniture, tile, textiles and event paint have all been affected. This has made it challenging for designers to plan projects, forecast construction timelines and accurately pinpoint completion dates.
- Reduced production capacity: Many interior design manufacturers have had to reduce their production capacity due to social distancing guidelines and supply chain disruptions. This has led to longer lead times for orders and reduced product availability. That reduction in available goods brings us to our next point.
- Demand shifts: The pandemic has caused significant shifts in consumer demand for interior design products. For example, demand for home office furniture and accessories has increased drastically, along with the demand for luxury home goods.
- Supply chain diversification: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of supply chain diversification for interior designers. Businesses that rely on a single supplier or region for their raw materials or products have been particularly vulnerable to supply chain disruptions during the pandemic. As a result, many businesses are now exploring ways to diversify their supply chains to reduce risk. Whether it is sourcing from local or regional vendors or adjusting the materials used on a project based on current availability, the pivot to diversify is imperative to the success of future projects.
The pandemic has no doubt had a significant impact on the interior design industry as a whole. The shortage of materials, shipping delays, and international travel restrictions make it challenging to complete projects. However, acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead are key to the growth and adaptation of any business. This article recounts how other businesses are having to find adaptive solutions in order to stay ahead of the curve.