2022 update: Supply chain issues continue to disrupt shipping timelines. China, home to about a third of global manufacturing, has imposed sweeping lockdowns in an attempt to keep the Omicron variant at bay. The lockdowns are interrupting port and chip-factory operations and the disruptions could have ripple effects that last the entire year. By some estimates, every week in Covid-related delay could affect $4 billion worth of trade, much of which is bound for the United States. Campaigners are strongly encouraged to reevaluate shipping timelines, communicate new estimated ship dates on campaign pages, and send an update directly to backers. Campaigners should also review our tips below for managing delays.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and after nearly two years of COVID-19 disrupting manufacturing, causing materials scarcity, and spurring factory closures and worker shortages, there are a lot of weak links in the global supply chain. By now, you may have heard about how the Great Supply Chain Disruption has been spurring shipping delays and making it harder for businesses to produce their products. Power shortages, which plagued China throughout November and December 2021, also took their toll. Extreme weather saw surging demand for energy and strict limits on coal usage forced factories to cut production.
Supply chain issues are affecting businesses of all sizes around the world and unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Here’s what backers and campaigners should know.
The effect on crowdfunding
Whether you’re a campaigner or a backer, supply chain issues are the industry, most especially campaigns raising funds for consumer products that are manufactured abroad. Below you’ll find our guidelines for how to navigate delays caused by supply chain issues.
For a typical crowdfunder, the steps for product development can go like this: design, prototype, materials sourcing, manufacture, packing, and shipping. A hiccup at any stage in the process can cause cascading slowdowns in the best of times. Toss in a good measure of COVID, and suddenly supply issues can become so exacerbated that they can bring production to a halt and put fulfillment timelines months behind schedule. Indiegogo is aware that across our platform, campaign owners are struggling to overcome obstacles beyond their control.
Thank you for everything you do to support the inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs on our platform. None of this would be possible without you. We know that you back crowdfunding campaigns that you’re passionate about and that you are excited to receive your perks. Most Indiegogo campaigners are operating on a much smaller scale than big brands, which is why they crowdfund in the first place. Your support is what turns their ideas into reality.
Unfortunately, because campaigners often can’t compete with larger brands for limited supply chain resources, they’re more likely to be affected by supply chain issues. But they are working to deliver perks as quickly as they can, and indeed, campaigners continue to deliver perks every day. If you’re considering whether to back a project, you can read our guide to assessing crowdfunding campaigns to see if a campaigner seems capable of navigating supply chain issues. If you’ve already backed a project, we ask that you extend campaign owners your patience as they put together something awesome for you. You’ll be glad you did.
For campaigns who have not yet launched
If you are gearing up to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a product, please add considerably more time to your fulfillment timeline. Assume that supply chain delays will have a severe effect on your timeline and adjust your delivery date accordingly. It is better to let backers know what to expect from the outset than to disappoint them with constant shipping delays.
Take extra care in planning out every stage of your project to understand where you might anticipate delays. Reevaluate your estimated shipping dates to accommodate delays. Reach out to suppliers as early as possible. Contact manufacturers well in advance. Consider working with a partner like Easyship that might be able to help you navigate fulfillment problems. Give yourself plenty of time to handle delays knowing that much of your timeline will be outside of your control.
You can also check out this episode of GoTime, Indiegogo’s podcast, in which our hosts share tips for navigating the entire manufacturing process.
For campaigners with active campaigns or campaigners working to fulfill perks
If you are currently running a campaign on Indiegogo or if your campaign has recently ended, it is crucial that you keep talking to your backers. Overcommunicating with backers is essential no matter what your fulfillment timeline looks like, and with supply chain issues potentially threatening your delivery date, you absolutely must communicate early and often with your community. Let backers know immediately that supply chain issues might cause delays and reassess your estimated shipping date to account for supply chain issues. Backers will likely already be familiar with the news around global supply chain disruption, and are probably waiting for you to release a statement on how your campaign will be affected.
The absolute best way to safeguard the goodwill of your backers is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Send updates once a week, respond to comments on your campaign page, and do everything you can to show backers that you appreciate their patience. Your backers have trusted you enough to support your campaign. Give them respect they deserve by keeping them in the know.
It’s also not too late to get some extra help. You can explore the Indiegogo Experts Directory to find a partner that can assist you with issues you might be having, or you can leverage our educational resources on shipping and fulfillment or on any other topic that might be useful to you on the Indiegogo Education Center.
Indiegogo supports our community
We know that creating a brand new product from scratch is challenging under the best of circumstances, and we appreciate everything that our campaigners are doing to overcome circumstances outside of their control. We thank our backers for the courtesy that they are extending our campaigners, and we thank our campaigners for working tirelessly to update backers and fulfill perks. Crowdfunding is built on the strength of community, and we are grateful to our community for working together to bring great ideas to life.
Are you a campaign owner? Please be sure to reevaluate your shipping timelines, communicate your new estimated ship date on your campaign page, and send an update directly to your backers.
Cover photo by Marco Bianchetti.