Last Updated March 25th, 2020.
With a range of responses to COVID-19 across North America, we’re tracking our suppliers and printers based on location and their capabilities to work safely. We have a mix of suppliers who are dealing with ‘Shelter in Place’ and are not able to print or ship products, some are working but at lower staff levels as some of their workforces are working from home, and others are still working at near-normal levels. Across the board, most of our suppliers are reporting Chinese supply chains are up and running and getting to near normal production levels.
Working from Home
We’re set up well for remote work, so we’ve asked our team to stay home and distance themselves from others as much as possible. We’re grateful to have a remote culture so we can take care of our staff and communities, doing our part to help flatten the curve of coronavirus cases.
We do have a couple of people in the office (who can walk or bike here!) that will be managing shipping and receiving during this time. While there may be delays in receiving inventory on some products, you shouldn’t notice a difference in the service you receive from Fairware. Please let your account manager know if you are still receiving orders at your office or if we need to change ship to locations or hold orders.
On the client side, the majority of our clients are also at home. We’re connecting with clients and checking in to see how their work plans, event schedules, etc are changing. We’re also working to re-route shipments as needed to home or staging merchandise in our offices if needed.
How We Can Support You
We understand that the spread of this disease is affecting people of all kinds, across all industries. We’ll be reaching out to our core accounts to ensure that we’re up to date with your event and merchandise plans, as we know many events are being canceled or postponed.
At this point, event recommendations and restrictions are different for each jurisdiction. Locally in Vancouver, we’re being advised not to host events for more than 50 people. Other areas have further reduced that number, and some are still saying 250 event attendees are okay. The US recently recommended not to host meetings or gatherings of more than 10. Check with your local health agency for updated information for your area.
Some of our clients are asking for ‘work from home’ kits to help set their teams up for success as they transition to working from home. They’re looking for things like headphones with microphones and wireless charging stands. Reach out to us if something like this would be helpful for your team. We also have suppliers for hand sanitizer, all of whom are out of stock, but more is coming in April and May. We’ll keep our clients appraised of availability in the case it’s of interest to you.
The promotional product industry has had its share of volatility over the past few months from increased tariffs and the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus. As a distributor with many of our products coming from around the world, we’re feeling a direct impact.
Luckily for Fairware, we have a broad selection of Made in Canada and Made in the USA products and those supply chains have not been impacted as greatly. You can learn more about this here. We’re also hearing that Chinese supply chains are coming back online as they manage to flatten the curve of infection in that country.
Tips for Managing Event Cancellations & Dealing with Branded Merchandise
We know these past few weeks have been particularly stressful for event planners. Advisories are constantly changing, and many have chosen to cancel large events and conferences or postpone to later dates. MeetingsNet is a great resource for up to date information on event-related topics.
While you may have already ordered merchandise for an event that has now been canceled, remember that these products are intended to serve a purpose. Your promotional merchandise might be designed to celebrate an event, boost morale, share successes, introduce new services, or simply share your brand story. Even though an event may be canceled, the original purpose of the product still exists.
We can work with you to create a plan to ensure that your merchandise will still make an impact, even without the associated event. We can use your merchandise to build inspiration kits to ship directly to attendees. It may be more expensive to deliver a gift this way, but it will make your attendees feel appreciated, especially during this volatile time. You can also suggest borrowing from the excess budget from the canceled event to see that your merchandise still helps to achieve your company goals.
We can also help redeploy the merchandise to charitable partners if your use of it is done. Reach out to your account manager to check in on the options.
Tips for Working Remotely
At Fairware, we’ve found that being accessible to one another and having regular team check-ins allows us to support each other and stay on top of things, even while we’re working out of the office. We have a daily morning webinar with our entire team at 10 am through RingCentral, and we use Slack for quick conversations throughout the day. Our order management, file management, and accounting systems are all in the cloud, allowing us full access no matter where we are working from.
We found Briteweb to be a great resource for us as we began setting up our protocols for working remotely, so check them out if you’re in need of more tips and tricks for building an efficient remote workforce. Trello’s How To Embrace Remote Work is also worth a read.
Whatever your plans are, we will be here to support you with your promotional merchandise needs. Please feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any questions or concerns.