One of the major challenges facing the promotional products industry as we head into the middle of 2010 is the absolute lack of inventory available from major ASI suppliers. This is mainly the result of poor planning or inability to see the return of the economy in the first months of the year. But it is also partially attributable to problems with cargo containers leaving Asia. That leaves distributors in the difficult position of not being able to provide new products to customers.
And there are a good amount of new products hitting the market this month. Leeds a division of Polyconcepts has launched an entire umbrella line. One of their newer offerings the 41" Classic Folding Umbrella is the very first custom printed umbrella Leeds has ever offered. This is one of the first major leaps for Polyconcepts into a new market since they launched their technology line several years ago. The umbrellas are scheduled to arrive in the coming days and as of this point there are no reports of difficulties in transit. Meanwhile over at Bullet Line which is another division of the same parent company they have expanded their custom caps line. Do you remember the big foam hats with a mesh back that were so popular thirty years ago? They are back with a vengeance and the Solid Cotton Twill Trucker Cap is one of the additions to the offering this year. Almost all of these hats and caps include custom embroidery in up to 7500 stitches which will cover almost all users. A nice aspect off the foam hat is it presents a large decoration area, almost a billboard for that matter on the front.
It remains to be seen whether or not the big players in the industry will have problems with freight as the year goes along. We should also be clear on another point. It is not that the containers are totally unavailable it is that the prices have gone up so much for immediate shipments as they bring capacity back online that some manufacturers are electing to wait it out. In some ways you cannot blame them if the alternative is shipping products that will eventually result in a loss or diminished profit. Combined with what were some of the higher fuel prices in the past few years once products arrived in the States there is no choice for some producers but to wait it out. Several of the major players have taken the time to write to their distributors explaining the shortages and this has gone a long way to repairing relationships and it also helps distributors maintain honest relationships with their end user clients.
As many of you may have read Google has announced that Caffeine is complete. Like so many others online I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of search results. One can only hope that in the coming weeks and months they fine tune this new product to bring it up to earlier higher standards.