Specific terms have popped up in popular jargon throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, riding a wave of consistency in the news. Terms like masking, Delta, Omicron, and social distancing have become part of everyday life. The term “supply chain” has been featured heavily in news stories and among business owners, large and small.
The general public likely gave little thought to the supply chain until it became a clear issue and something they heard about daily. Consumers feel the effects of an interrupted supply chain, with everything from groceries to appliances. One significant interruption that is evident nationwide is the supply shortage of consistent PPE. Many public places still require masks, and many businesses and healthcare providers still need gloves and shields. Since the beginning of the year, hospitals have reported PPE shortages, and added pressure has been on PPE suppliers to step up to the plate to fill in supply gaps.
Supply Chain Interruptions are Nothing New
While the supply chain issue for PPE may seem to be a new problem, it’s been a topic of concern since the onset of the pandemic. There was an initial rush on mask buying and the purchase of other safety supplies such as gloves and hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic. Higher-level masks, like N65’s, were especially difficult to obtain. This rush on purchasing for businesses and the general public contributed to nationwide shortages.
Supply was also a significant issue for hospitals. The shortages made headlines as healthcare workers grappled with the monumental task of caring for COVID patients amid the PPE scarcity.
Supply has been an ongoing problem throughout the pandemic and continues. If hospitals and large companies experienced issues getting their hands on PPE, mom-and-pop small businesses struggled mightily.
The Small Business Struggle
Not only is PPE supply an issue for small businesses, but the price is also a major consideration. Smaller businesses operate on much tighter budgets than large corporations or healthcare organizations. According to a Business Insider article from February 2021, some companies were passing the cost of PPE down to their customers in the form of COVID-19 fees.
“We understand how hard it can be financially, as well as emotionally, this need to protect yourself and others,” says Patrick Callaway, CEO of Octofund Group. Callaway’s company has been on the front lines of closing the supply chain gaps and getting PPE to companies large and small at a low price.
“Between our own branded products and sourced products, we maintain a supply chain management and distribution network immune from delays, lack of communication, and uncertainty,” says Callaway.
To weather supply chain and cost issues, small businesses need to seek partnerships with companies that understand the specific needs of mom-and-pop businesses.
PPE is Here to Stay
PPE was a thriving business before the onset of the COVID-19 virus. Healthcare organizations, large companies, manufacturers, technology companies, and others had an ongoing need for PPE for various reasons. The pandemic has exacerbated the demand for all manner of PPE across not only businesses and organizations but the general public. The target customer has expanded, and PPE demand has increased exponentially.
This increased demand and the general upheaval we’ve all experienced over the past two years have changed the perception of PPE use. It will now become more acceptable and expected to have masks at hand during flu season or vinyl gloves available at certain businesses. Some experts say that supply chain issues are bound to stick around as well, at least for the foreseeable future.
Virologists predict that COVID-19 may eventually become endemic, but PPE will continue to be in high demand in its current unstable state. Meeting that demand with viable workarounds to supply chain issues and lower costs is a way to help small businesses ride this ongoing pandemic wave and come out on the other side intact.
Jacob Grand is a customer experience expert and Chief Operating Officer at Octofund Group.