What In The World Is Going On With Shipping? (Late Summer, 2021 Update)

Posted on  by Jeremy

Shipping delays

As of late summer, 2021, we are seeing unprecedented delays in international shipping. These delays are not unique to PufferPrint (although maybe we’re the only company willing to tell you about them!). Port congestion has effected all imported goods and materials from socks to steel to yes, your books too.

PufferPrint’s print team creates your books in China and then ships the books by air or by sea to our customers around the world. Once your books are packed for shipping, they enter a global supply chain that can be subject to forces well beyond our control. Here’s what’s going on. 

So what’s the story? Why are we seeing unprecedented delays in Sea Shipping? 

COVID-19 caused a retraction in the global economy not seen in prior decades, at the same time, our economy is more global than ever with raw materials and consumer goods being shipped by ocean-freight in numbers never seen before in history. 

As the United States begins to experience its recent economic recovery (fingers crossed this continues!), retailers and manufacturers are re-ordering and re-stocking in quantities greater than ever before. This means that orders for imported goods and materials are at all-time highs. 

The unprecedented levels of freight coming into US ports, coupled with diminished capacity to unload and clear shipments through customs, (because of COVID-19 restrictions on numbers of personnel), has meant that ships are idling outside our ports up and down the coast. In the first two quarters of 2021, only 40% of US-bound sea freight has been delivered on time.

OK So…. What About My Books? 

Normally, we share that sea shipments arrive in 6-8 weeks. Right now, as a result of everything described, our sea shipment time (from the day your order is shipped, to the day it should reasonably be expected to be delivered) is 10-13 weeks. 

To check out shipping timelines for the holiday season please Click Here.

So What About Air Shipping? 

Shipping books by air to save on time.

Well, you’re not the first person to think along these lines… and so many importers are switching their shipments from sea to air to meet customer deadlines. The result? You guessed it! Delays in air shipping too! Yay! (boo actually, very boo).

Our typical air shipment time is 2 weeks. Currently, we’re seeing a lot of variabilities where air shipments are taking anywhere from 2-3.5 weeks to deliver. 

I’ve Got a Deadline, I Need My Books! What Do I do? 

We get it! You’ve got customers, you’ve got a book launch, you’ve got pre-orders and/or backers that are like, “where the heck are my books”? It’s not a good feeling having to let your loyal customers know that things are NOT happening on time. PufferPrint is here for you, so if you’re in need of some creative solutions- please schedule some time with us and we can discuss options: Click Here To Schedule A Call. Some ideas to help include: 

  • Splitting the order! For example, let’s say you ordered 1,000 books but only have 150 pre-orders. We can ship 150 books by air and the remaining 850 by sea, saving you money and ensuring your pre-orders are fulfilled ASAP without paying for 100% air shipping. 
  • Order ASAP! Don’t delay. The sooner we can get your order in, the sooner it’ll be delivered. More questions on our timing? Check out: our How It Works Page
  • Keep your customers informed! If your customers are wondering about delivery times, we HIGHLY recommend being conservative with estimates and allowing extra time for delays. Communication is key and the importance of setting proper expectations for delivery timing (and variability) with your customers cannot be overstated.

When you order books through PufferPrint, we aim to be your partner not only in printing, but in delivering your books to the doorstep or distribution center of your choosing. Part of our commitment to our customers is ensuring transparent communication throughout our process until you’ve received your bookstore-quality books and are fully satisfied.

Ready to get your quote?

Your book journey is waiting and our customer service is like no other. Hope to see you soon!