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How Gundam Express Australia Survived The Early Days Of The Pandemic.

How Gundam Express Australia Survived The Early Days Of The Pandemic.

How Gundam Express Australia Survived The Early Days Of The Pandemic.

I often get asked what I do for a living and what impact did the pandemic have on my business. In this blog I share what I was faced with and how I pushed the business through an uncertain and scary time.


The first real impact of the pandemic wasn’t felt until late March 2020, like pretty much the whole business community worldwide I was totally unprepared for what was evolving right in front of me. Reality hit hard, when several large shipments from one of our suppliers in Japan were according to their tracking details still sitting at a port just outside of Tokyo. I was keenly watching the shipping movements online and after not seeing any change of status for an unusual 2 weeks I shot off an enquiry to the wholesaler to ask for an update. A few days later an email came back with pretty much 3 words, shipment is delayed. By the middle of April another wholesaler had informed us that there were huge delays at the ports due to cargo ship delays and staff illness everywhere in Japan. Our order with them was now sitting in their warehouse as well. To say I was becoming a little concerned was an understatement and finally that dreaded email I was hoping would never arrive did. It simply said all shipments waiting to be shipped out of Japan were indefinitely suspended and our orders were being sent back to their original destination. OMG! How was I going to get our stock out of Japan and into Australia? Up until now we were using a combination of Japan Post Sea Freight, EMS and Air Parcel, what other options were available to us during this crazy time. I needed to get that already paid for stock here and quickly because the shelves were starting to empty and i didn’t want to upset our loyal Gundam lovers. The Australian wholesaler who I was also buying from I learnt was in the same position as we were but on a bigger scale of course. Gundam meant for the whole of the Australian marketplace was in limbo. They had product stuck at sea on ships and on the docks in Japan and Australia.


I had to be proactive and find some sort of solution and quickly. I began shooting out emails to courier companies such as TNT, Toll, DHL and FedEx. DHL was quick to respond, and I was up and running very quickly opening an account and getting quotations to ship ex Japan to here in Australia. As a side note to this very day the Australian owned freight companies still haven’t responded to any of my requests for help - wow! Cost of shipping was a lot higher, but manageable. Great I thought I have found a solution and sure it meant a wholesale price increase and reduced margins but that was of least concern at this time. With a solution at hand, I contacted one of our Japanese suppliers and told them the great news! An email came back addressed to me and to my shock what I had proposed was rejected outright, they wouldn’t deal with anyone other than Japan Post. I couldn’t understand why this would be a problem for them and many emails later we were still no closer to a resolution. At home here I was talking daily with DHL trying to get a grip of the whole shipping and handling process so I could clearly map it out for our Japanese friends so they could understand how it was going to work and how little impact this change was going to have on them. I am talking right down to DHL Japan providing the packing boxes for them to use for free! I guess there is always some resistance to change in every business.


The first, 30 cartons of Gundam Gold arrived in late May, and other shipments from all our suppliers in Japan were on their way too. Thanks goodness I hadn’t given up, the shelves were full again and our customers were happy, extremely happy:) We were one of the lucky businesses that benefited by the lockdowns.

 

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