Two Stories about Just-In-Time Delivery… from Last Week

Although you might be the only person you’re thinking about when you buy bubblebath online with two day delivery from Amazon, it turns out that the speedy and time-guaranteed delivery of your soap is part of a pervasive  trend that’s having huge effects on the global economy. Last week, I stumbled upon two stories that really show how important the just-in-time delivery paradigm has become. The first, from NPR’s Planet Money, the supply chain that perishable roses follow to get from halfway across the world, where it’s the growing season, to flower shops in anticipation of Valentine’s day. For just this one day, prices can spike to double their usual levels. A few days too early or just a day late, as the episode discusses, can mean that hundreds of roses end up in the dumpster instead of in lovers’ vases. The second, from APM’s Marketplace, takes a look at recent disruptions of the supply chain by labor disputes at West Coast sea ports. Over $1 trillion of goods move through those ports annually. To keep its factories running during the backup, Subaru has been forced to fly in certain parts to avoid the bottleneck at a cost of $60 million a month. Even shoe retailers stand to be harmed by the slowdown of imports. Although just-in-time delivery increases efficiency and convenience, it seems to also have a downside:  a more fragile supply chain.

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