Promo Suppliers Are Out of Hand Sanitizer, and Re-Stocking Could Take Weeks
As concern over the coronavirus continues and governments take steps to contain the spread, the primary directive for everyone all over the world has been simple: Wash your hands. If you don't have access to soap and water right this second, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
And it's good that so many people have taken that advice to heart, but unfortunately in the promotional products industry it's come at the expense of a few suppliers' inventory. Companies like Raining Rose Inc., Hit Promotional Products, SnugZ USA and more have said that they're out of hand sanitizer. Some are optimistic that they'll have it back in stock soon, but others aren't so sure.
Here's the notice SnugZ USA posted to its Twitter account on Monday:
— SnugZ USA (@SnugZUSA) March 9, 2020
Leashables by OraLabs Inc., Parker, Colo., posted a similar message on its website.
"OraLabs Promotional Products has temporarily suspended accepting hand sanitizer orders," the post says. "We are still processing orders for lip balm, lotion, sunscreen and breath spray with standard lead time."
It's not that the world is now suddenly bereft of hand sanitizers. For companies dealing with such a sudden spike in demand, it's a matter of ensuring transparency and keeping things running as smoothly as possible.
"With the rapid surge in demand, we made this choice so that we could be certain we wouldn’t over-promise our inventory during this time," said Lindsey Davis, director of promotional sales for Raining Rose. "Our customers have been incredibly understanding, and it’s important to us to be clear and honest, even in that means missing out on an order."
Hit Promotional Products is working with other suppliers to try to meet demand as best as possible.
"At this time, Hit is also sold out of all hand sanitizer inventory," said Krista Ward, director of marketing for Hit Promotional Products. "We’re working with both current overseas and domestic vendors, as well as new sources, to get inventory back on the shelves as quickly as possible. Since this is a worldwide issue, demand on these vendors is great."
In an automatic response from Webb Company, president Daniel Webb estimated that the company is "a minimum of four-plus weeks out from having more stocks." Sanitizer sprays will likely be out of stock for 10 to 12 weeks, and gel sanitizer bottles will probably start shipping in four to six weeks.
"We have been absolutely inundated and real-time inventory has caused us to overcommit to some customers already," the email says. "We need to get solid footing beneath us again so we can be the great supplier you know and trust. If you placed your order already, and have not received a confirmation, we suggest trying to secure inventory through another source. We can't contact customers at this point because our phones are 10 people deep at all times. We strongly believe we just need a few days to understand exactly where our current commitments to orders/inventory lies, along with working to secure additional inventory in order to best service everyone."
The inundation with requests for hand sanitizer has been the central theme. While this is hardly the first time people have been concerned with the spread of an illness, Davis said Raining Rose has never seen anything like it.
"We certainly saw increases in demand during the Swine Flu and H1N1, but never anything quite like this," she said. "The difference this time is the sheer volume of requests we are receiving. It isn’t just orders—our chief sales officer, Mike Wehr, recently shared with me that in his 17 years at Raining Rose, he has never heard our phone ring like it has in the past two weeks."
Having sold through its entire stock, Raining Rose is expecting to produce new orders in April and ship them in May, after they've gone through their quality checks.
"We will certainly be shouting from the rooftops when we start accepting new orders," Davis said.