cargo ship coming to Savannah port shows supply chain challenges

How to Handle Supply Chain Challenges

Design Desk

Stephanie's headshot, IT Design Desk purchasing

The supply chain, while marginally better than it was during the height of COVID-19, is still a total nightmare. Pricing and stock levels for business technology products change drastically from day to day, sometimes even hour by hour.

At Infinity, we try our best to keep everything consistent for our clients so new hardware and replacements are as easy as raising your hand. However, it is borderline impossible sometimes.

For example, we once couldn’t source certain size monitors due to a glass shortage, which was due to a sand shortage. Seriously. It’s THAT wild out there.

To that end, I’ve put together a few tips to help make your next hardware purchasing experience a little smoother and, ideally, less expensive for you.

Buying from Manufacturers v. Distributors

You, as a consumer, have the opportunity to buy direct from manufacturers. They advertise to you via emails and flyers or coupons in the mail.

As a business, we (Infinity) order through various distributors. We do not order straight from the manufacturer.

We do this because distributors have access to multiple manufacturers’ products, so we have a higher chance of availability and competitive pricing.

There can be confusion then when you, as an individual, get a super low-price promotional email from Lenovo or HP, for example (manufacturers), and a quote from your IT partner that is higher. The manufacturer’s message claims to have availability, which may apply to you but does not apply to us (or to anyone most of the time). Those emails are automated and do not reflect current availability and/or current market pricing. They are a sales tactic to get your attention.

A quote from us, on the other hand, is an actual offer for the hardware or item you requested. We can try our best to match the pricing you find online, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any available or at the same price. Often, they aren’t, but we will try!

Stock and Speed

Speaking of availability, stock is INCREDIBLY limited and fluctuates daily. This is not an exaggeration.

It makes the speed at which we go through the quoting process critical. Let me show you what I mean.

  • If I send a quote saying “limited availability” and it takes 3 weeks for the quote to be accepted, that product will be gone. We will have to start the process all over of finding another suitable product, creating a new quote, and getting that quote accepted and processed by all parties. That means it will take that much longer for you to get what you need. We don’t want you to have to wait that long if you need something!
  • If I send a quote saying, “this needs to be accepted ASAP,” those products will probably be gone in the next hour (sometimes even less). This is how volatile the market is right now!
  • There are some products that we just can’t get sometimes. HP docking stations, for example—none of our distributors had any for months. We hate it too, I promise! And it doesn’t mean don’t ask. It just means we’re all waiting for the supply chain to catch up.
  • ETAs are ALWAYS subject to change. We have no control over that. They are estimates, not guarantees, and I get just as anxious waiting for updates as you do, believe me!

Caveat Emptor

“Caveat emptor” is a Latin phrase that means, “Let the buyer beware.” What it boils down to is that you, as the buyer, take on the risk of your decision. And since we want to protect our clients, we prefer you purchase from us so we can take on that risk. We know exactly what we’re buying and what is needed.

We understand that we’re a partner though, not a parent, and you can make your own choices. If you are determined to try to find products on your own, please keep a few things in mind.

  • Be sure you are looking at REPUTABLE websites. If it looks too good to be true, it is. If you find a $2,000 laptop for $400, it’s not a good deal. It’s a scam through unreliable, disreputable companies, and that machine will most likely break down within a week. At that point, there will be nothing we can do to help or fix it, and you’ll be right back where you started, having to purchase a new machine.
  • Please be sure you have the right specs before you purchase. This is something we’re happy to share, and it is based on what you have told us the machine will mainly be used for. For example, an employee who will solely be accessing cloud applications and using basic spreadsheets or documents needs different specs than a graphic artist, videographer, or engineer. And if you don’t purchase the correct product for your needs, you’ll spend more money having us try to make it fit your needs after the fact.
    Here’s a common example. You need a laptop, and you see an ad from Best Buy (or you decide to just ‘pop on by’ and look). They say it’s in stock AND it’s on sale! Yay!
    That laptop will most likely have Windows Home on it.
    Go ahead, check behind me. I’ll wait. 😉
    It does, doesn’t it? Well, that’s fine for most personal use, but you’re using it in a business on a network that you need to keep secure. And that means there will be additional charges for us to come out, to purchase Windows Pro, and to completely reconfigure your new machine. Any deal you got will have been washed away with all the additional costs incurred. We don’t want that for you!

Purchases of any kind, but especially technology, can be frustrating and costly. It can be tough to see clear apples-to-apples comparisons and make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. And of course, you want to save the most money. So do we. We wouldn’t be able to function as a business if we threw money away on tools that didn’t work.

What I’m saying is that we do this all the time and have the exact same goal as you do—to find the most effective product at the best possible price. Let us save you the time and frustration. It’s why we are here.

If you find a deal you can’t pass up, we get it! We just ask that you please talk with us first to make sure everything is okay with it. That way, we all avoid any unnecessary hassle and costs. We won’t steer you wrong, I promise!

I just wanted to share these examples that I have experienced to give you some peace of mind if you feel like the process isn’t working the way it should. It’s not you. This craziness impacts all of us.