There is not a single expletive that can alleviate the frustration I am currently feeling. You would think that mag nation being a small geographically focused business would be somewhat immune to a fricking volcano somewhere in Iceland… wrong.
We import a hell of a lot of magazines direct from Europe and bring them in by air freight. While the chaos amongst international air travellers has now been well documented, what about the hidden cost to trade. If a small business on the other side of the world is affected, what are the global ramifications?
Those unfamiliar with our business might be forgiven for thinking that the effect on us is minimal, but this volcano will have a major impact on us. So many of our sales are skewed towards international air freighted titles. Moreover, we import these in directly, and pay for them up front. In other words, we have already paid for many goods that are now languishing in a warehouse near an airport on the other side of the world. Again, not a major deal for many retailers as these products can normally still be sold. However, in our case, by the time the current issue of Vogue Paris arrives in our store, the next issue will be arriving on its heels. Our customers will buy the most recent issue, leaving the one that got delayed to gather dust.
On top of this, we have thousands of subscribers who are expecting delivery of their latest air freight issues. We have proactively contacted all of these customers, explaining that the delays to air travel also mean delays to cargo transportation. There is a massive back log in Europe, and as it starts to clear, magazines will be lower on the priority list (we think they represent an essential good, but the powers that be may not quite agree with us!) All subscribers will all get their products, but the cost to us in lost over the counter sales and the cash flow implications will be large.
As an aside, did any of our local suppliers proactively reach out to us as one of their customers to convey the delay of product that they might supply to us? No. Are we the only ones in the magazine industry who communicate with customers???
Anyway, all of this has served to remind me just how interconnected the world is today. It is one thing to know this in theory, but another thing altogether when it starts to hit your wallet and impact your business. Damn volcano.