• Impactors on the IT supply chain causing second industry-wide spike of stock shortages

Technology services provider Probrand is urging IT buyers to plan purchases now as the UK faces a severe stock shortage triggered by ongoing delays from the pandemic, an unprecedented spike in ecommerce and the aftermath of Brexit.  

The business is warning buyers not to rely on verbal or casual agreements with vendors, with fluctuating lead times and stock availability continuing to affect the industry. If buyers have visibility over future requirements, they should move now and lock in orders, to secure stock as soon as it’s available.

Supply chains have still not fully recovered after factory shutdowns last February, due to the coronavirus pandemic. A lasting component shortage across semiconductors, processors and LCD displays, for example, is still affecting the production of everyday items such as notebooks and tablets.

At a time when businesses are looking to professionalise and improve remote working, this lack of devices is hampering economic continuity.

This is also having a significant impact on education with school closures seeing a spike in the demand for technology that cannot currently be fulfilled. Probrand has received confirmation that Chromebooks will be unavailable for at least twenty weeks, with HP announcing that its most popular laptop will be out of stock until April.

Additional factors affecting supply include:  

  • Brexit – some organisations still do not have fully defined processes on importing and exporting. Probrand has seen some of the biggest challenges on the shipment of products to Northern Ireland, including uncertainty over paperwork and the determination of goods at risk. (Meaning goods that could be moved on to the EU from Northern Ireland and would therefore be liable for export duties).
  • Kent in gridlock – the pause on road shipments in and out of the UK before Christmas only added to delays, with lorries that missed their booking slot having to rebook – triggering a backlog.   
  • Chinese New Year – the planned closure of factories next month is likely to slow things down further.

Ian Nethercot, supply chain director at Probrand, said: “These events in combination have created a far worse situation than anything we’ve seen to date. Where there were instances of vendors holding or ringfencing stock during the first national lockdown, that is simply not happening this time around. Any estimates on lead times are, unfortunately meaningless. 

‘‘Buyers should put those orders in as soon as possible to ensure they can get IT supplies into the business as quickly as they can.’’

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