As we approach halfway through the first quarter of 2021, we are very optimistic of the changes that are going to be happening in the market. We know that 2020 was a very turbulent year where we saw our smallest quarter in history (Q2) and our largest quarter in history (Q4). With vaccines on the horizon and death rates at an all time low, it is easy to look forward to the spring and see opportunity. However, with the extension of Alberta lockdowns in January, we saw a deep decline in promotional sales, very similar to what we saw in 2020. The challenges we saw with our boom in Q4 we inventory shortages, extra demand on our printing presses and covid isolation restrictions on warehouse workers. We are anticipating different challenges as we prepare for society to open this time around.
What challenges are upcoming?
Shipping out of China has seen a 300% increase in costs this year, with container shortages and extended lead times on shipping we are anticipating that a trickle down will occur and prices will increase accordingly. Delayed lead times on shipping will create inventory shortages on products as well, so while we are anticipating that by ordering extra inventory on lots of our key products, we guarantee that the people and companies who plan will save money, time and stress when planning their corporate promotions.
Hiring and Training to Plan for Demand
We recently hired 2 new staff to help us manage the demand that we expect in the marketplace. We now have a dedicated inside sales team to help make custom presentations on items, check stock on products, manage client relations and create custom web stores. This dedicated team is the key point of contact for all customers and should help speed up the time it takes to make custom presentations. We also hired a new logistics and production coordinator to supplement our in-house production team. This person will help optimize quality control, speed up production and manage customer deliveries. We did all of this at a time when our sales are very declined because we want to be ready for what comes next.
Expanding our decoration capacity
By increasing our staffing levels in the decoration department and providing industry leading training to our staff, we are prepared to help alleviate demand on rush orders, make sure we hit in hands dates and be able to provide industry best practices for decorating clothing and promotional hard goods. In the past year we have added pressing technology, digital print technology, sublimation systems, a new sublimation oven and more. This investment in new technology, we view as an investment in the future of the promotional item future. Order sizes are going down and personalization is going up and we are prepared to take on the challenge.
Expanding our Storage Capacity
The work from home era is upon us. Lots of companies are giving up office space in favour of allowing staff to work from home. But with lack of office space, it can present challenges on where you will keep your promotional items. We are proud to say that over the past year we have more than doubled our square footage capacity. We have added a bunch of industrial racking for storage of corporate promotional items and our pick and pack services have never been busier than they were in Q4 2020. If you need us to store and ship your promotional items on demand, this is the right year to investigate that. Whether it is a uniform program for industrial oilfield coveralls or a banking services program for desktop wedges, we can stock and fulfil your products on demand across Canada.