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How one company solved the global supply chain problem by removing the chain

By Heather van Blokland
Published: Friday, October 1, 2021 - 9:58am
Updated: Friday, October 1, 2021 - 10:02am

Global supply chains have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Lockdowns have disrupted the flow of trade. Shipping, trucking and air freight have all been interrupted, even halted since early 2020. Globally, it has wreaked havoc on manufacturers trying to deliver goods to businesses.

An analysis of 7,000 company earnings calls globally in January and February by S&P Global Panjiva found that more than a quarter of businesses mentioned "freight," 37% mentioned "logistics" and half discussed supply chains as the major disruptors to business. 

More than 80% of global trade by volume is moved by sea, and the disruptions are adding billions of dollars to supply chain costs. But strengthening the supply chain during COVID-19 may come down to removing the chain altogether.

Mark Kapczynski is CMO of Gooten, an on-demand global manufacturing company, where the product is not manufactured until it’s actually ordered. The company covers three segments: apparel — which is mostly T-shirts — wall art and home decor. And the wall art, during the pandemic, has included a lot of framed pet portraits and pet drawings.

“Last year we probably did more of these what are called pet portraits than anyone else around,” he said. Gooten manufactures and ships to brands and retailers on an order by order basis. Kapczynski says the old-fashioned supply chain is old-fashioned — producing products in one place, then putting items on a ship or truck and transporting them to another place and then trying to manage the inventory — it just doesn’t work anymore.  “Most of the stuff doesn't even get sold, too. So you create these compounded problems with these legacy supply chains,” he said. 

“So think of a world where you used to have to order maybe 1,000 mugs in order to get a price break and sell them all. And then you'd be stuck with 990s. And what do you do with them all? So if you only sell 10 mugs, we're only making those 10 mugs for you,” he said. 

Kapczynski’s company doubled its orders during the pandemic year 2020 from 2019.  He said traditional supply chains continue to suffer with bottlenecks and gluts of inventory.

“Our whole model is that we’ll just produce it as close as possible to that end consumer and then just ship it locally, so it gets there faster and it gets there cheaper and it’s much easier to track,” he said. “What's kind of remarkable, we think, is because our whole business is centered around on-demand production —  that even through the pandemic. With all the challenges, last year, we were able to produce items in under three days and then have it delivered to the consumer in under four days. So basically, if you think about it soup to nuts from the time that someone ordered an item and it went through our system, they were able to receive it in seven days."

Business Retail + Consumer Transportation