How Do I Navigate Protective Footwear Supply-Chain Challenges?

We’re all well aware of current supply chain disruptions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Go into almost any store, and you can’t help but notice the empty shelves once filled with your favorite products. But if you or your workers wear protective footwear to stay safe on the job, the limited supply of work boots may be particularly challenging. Many workers are finding it increasingly difficult to find the protective footwear they require, in stock, in the size they need. And they are frustrated by the long lead times for back-ordered footwear.

While it may be tempting to blame your supplier for the gaps in protective footwear availability, one must understand that this is an industry-wide problem. And it’s likely to continue through 2022 and into 2023 due to the supply chain issues we hear about in the daily news: shortages of raw materials and workers affecting manufacturing output, and shipping delays affecting the timely transport of goods. Still, some suppliers have managed to gain control of the situation, continuing to provide the same level of service and minimize extensive delays.

If sourcing work boots for yourself or your employees is on your to-do list, check out the Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges in Protective Footwear article in the September 2022 edition of Occupational Health & Safety Magazinewritten by Barbara Fitzgeorge, Tyndale’s Vice President of Marketing. There she explains the importance of choosing a supplier that has proactively taken steps to ensure access to a steady supply of footwear, despite industry-wide challenges.


How Are Reliable Footwear Suppliers Reacting to Supply-Chain Challenges?

Businesses with a history of growth and success prior to the pandemic are better positioned and prepared to handle the strain placed on all companies in the aftermath of the pandemic. To ensure a steady supply of footwear, manufacturers and distributors have each taken proactive measures, including:

  • Footwear manufacturers have analyzed the demand across their entire product offering and have focused manufacturing resources on the most popular styles.
  • Footwear distributors have been in close contact with their footwear suppliers to determine product availability and have made strategic inventory investments in popular products. They can then promote these popular products with a strong inventory position.
  • When manufacturers have discontinued styles, distributors notify wearers and offer available alternative options, minimizing end-user frustration.

These combined steps result in the best overall experience for end-users under difficult circumstances being faced industry wide.

How to Find a Supplier Who Will Fill Your Footwear Orders

Look for a supplier with the qualities listed below to significantly improve the likelihood that the protective footwear you and your workers require is in stock and ready to ship:

  • Strong communication with sourcing partners. Suppliers who maintain solid relationships with their vendors are often the first to know about delivery delays, allowing the supplier to create a plan to minimize impact.
  • A deep inventory commitment. Smart, financially sound suppliers make the investment to ensure a steady supply of product to their customers, regardless of delays or challenges.
  • Near-shore supply chain. Products made in countries in close proximity to your location are less likely to experience shipping delays due to port congestion.
  • Ability to pivot and maneuver through pandemic challenges successfully. Nimble companies experienced much greater productivity, fully leveraging the limited resources of time, talent, and energy.

Barbara predicts that protective footwear delays will continue into 2023 due to lockdowns overseas causing manufacturing shutdowns, particularly in China. She also notes that product selection may be less than what we’re accustomed to since manufacturers are focused on manufacturing the most popular styles and may have halted production on low-demand products.

Protective footwear is not a luxury item workers can choose to go without. Ultimately, your selection of suppliers is likely the single greatest indicator of whether your employees have access to the protective footwear they need to stay safe on-the-job—or not.

Read the article to fully understand how to navigate protective footwear supply chain challenges.


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