Delayed shipments LVT floors from China thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving many retailers and commercial installation firms scrambling to fulfill inventory requirements for upcoming projects.

“If you are completely out of stock and had none of the film available, you are probably looking at 30 weeks until delivery,” said Matthew Syler, chief revenue officer, Bella Flooring Group. “We have inventory and are actually really well positioned. We aren’t seeing an immediate slowdown.”

Shipments at the beginning of the year are always stressed due to the Chinese New Year celebrations, Syler said, so proper supply chain management can help dealers lessen shipment issues in the future.

“You have a combination of catching up from Chinese New Year, which is always going to be slow in February, and then you have an influx of orders created at Surfaces and all the trade shows. That’s why we want our Q1 orders finished and ready before Chinese New Year starts and I want my product for Q2 and films ready to cut and box when they get back from the holiday. That way, we don’t get caught up in that Q1 bottleneck. Even the factories are getting caught up with mock-ups and sampling; they have disruptions just like everyone else a the first of the year.”

He offers the following advice for sourcing replacement inventory from suppliers:  

  • If you have a project and you know what your lead time is, don’t wait to place your purchase order.
  • Tell the vendor the size of the job and that you need materials at a specific location on a specific date—and offer a deposit of 10 to 30 percent, or whatever the vendor is asking for. Everyone will prioritize orders, so make a small deposit to let them know you’re serious.
  • You can let them know that you have no control if the project gets cancelled, but the only way you would rescind the order is if the project gets cancelled.

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