Probrand urges IT buyers to start planning purchases as stock lines recover

Technology services provider Probrand is urging IT buyers to review and plan purchases to get ahead of the rush as the IT supply chain recovers and certain technology categories regain stock.

The business says suppliers are operating on a first come first served basis. As such, buyers need to be proactive and get ahead of the rush for in-demand out-of-stock products like laptops, headsets and webcams – or face a long wait. 

Challenging conditions meant that, at its height, 70% of IT marketplace products in the UK were in constraint, according to Probrand. 

While these conditions were initially triggered by factory shutdowns in Asia as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, product shortages quickly worsened after lockdown created an increased demand for home working products. 

Other events also had a knock-on effect – the planned closure of factories during Chinese New Year, a fire at a glass panel factory, as well as manufacturers using commercial flights to ship stock which were then grounded, impacting supply chain contingency plans once more.  

The fact that the majority of new stock coming in was naturally prioritised for NHS hospitals, as well as background factors such as the ongoing Intel processor shortage, also contributed. 

Ian Nethercot, supply chain director at Probrand, said: “These events in combination have created a perfect storm, the like of which we’ve never seen before. Categories such as notebooks, headsets and webcams have been the worst hit and are still in major constraint but we are seeing things start to slowly improve.

‘‘Now is not the time to hesitate – as we see signs of the supply chain picking up, buyers should make sure they are at the front of the queue when it comes to technology becoming available.’’  

As the market starts to slowly recover, Probrand is advising IT buyers to follow three key steps:  

  1. Join the queue – regardless of whether there is a current need or not, sign on to the waiting lists as stock starts to reappear and back orders are fulfilled. Suppliers are operating on a first come, first served basis. Now is the time to plan and place orders. Proactivity will be rewarded with deliveries.  For now, gone are spontaneous orders.  
  2. Communicate with suppliers – ask what items are in stock, which categories are starting to recover, and how lead times are looking. Estimated lead times can still be unreliable but buyers can get a clearer idea by requesting checks up and down the supply chain – that includes asking whether goods are already in transit or still in a factory being built.
  3. Monitor price trends – limited supply and high demand characteristics have had a significant impact on the prices that buyers are paying. As well as keeping a regular check on run rate purchases, buyers should be scrutinising purchases as they would normally to ensure suppliers are not exploiting what’s happening in the market to inflate prices. Even in the current climate, there’s still scope to negotiate.

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