Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on September 17th, 2020

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Domestic Shrink Film VS Imported Shrink Film: Which Is Right For You?

Packaging Materials | The Business of Packaging | Investment

Are you feeling a little stressed out with the buying process lately?, with the continued complications coming from the presence of COVID, the global supply chain is experiencing new problems it has not experienced before. And while COVID will eventually end, the effects upon the supply chain will almost certainly be replicated in the event of other pandemics as time goes on.


There was a time that purchasing foreign films made sense from a cost-savings perspective as many foreign films are often cheaper (and at times of lower quality). But, with the complications brought upon the world via COVID, the availability, delivery times, lead times, and other related parts of the process are being disrupted by the virus.


Are you currently waiting for an order of shrink film from a foreign country? Have you received it yet? Do you think it will arrive on time? Wondering if you should purchase American made films instead? Maybe you are trying to figure out which option will ultimately cost less?


If you are a purchasing professional or buyer, the issues the world is facing with the global supply chain is probably something you are dealing with on a daily basis. Chances are, you are continually attempting to buy the best possible product for the lowest possible price. While buying foreign films was once an option for cutting costs, choosing to do so in the age of COVID may result in late deliveries, higher prices, and low availability.


Industrial Packaging has been actively engaged in buying, selling, and running shrink film not only on our lines but also for our clients. We sell both domestic and foreign films, but usually end up recommending domestic films due to price, quality and lead times.


However, we know there are times when using a foreign film might make sense for your business. Our storied history of supply chain experience allows us to provide you with unparalleled insight and information regarding best practices for buying shrink film.


In this article, we will discuss buying domestic shrink film vs. foreign/imported shrink film. We will take a look at several key considerations when choosing between domestic and foreign shrink films. When you are finished, you will have a good understanding of which one is a better purchase right now.



Availability Of Domestic And Imported Shrink Films


Before the arrival of COVID, you could find tons of, dare I say cheap (perhaps affordable is the more appropriate term?), shrink films online. Granted, while there are some very high-quality films available from various European countries that come with a bit of a higher price tag, there are tons of inexpensive shrink films easily found on the internet.


With a few clicks, you could get some decent films that, while not living up to the high-quality expectations of shrink film made in the USA, would undoubtedly get the job done and, in many cases, save you some serious coin.


While some of these foreign films would occasionally come with some headaches such as the occasionally late delivery or material availability, most of the time, you could get by without any significant problems.


Unfortunately, those days are long gone. The minor headaches from machinery hiccups, minor downtime, and the sometimes unwanted waste from buying foreign films pale compared to the genuine problem of availability of foreign films today.


Due to the significant upheaval and disruption that COVID has put upon various parts of the global supply chain, many foreign film manufacturers are having trouble keeping high demand films in stock.


So, your once go-to source for inexpensive films may very well be struggling to get your orders. They may not be able to actually fulfill your order within a reasonable time if these issues continue as they currently exist.


Various foreign film manufacturers and sellers are dealing with these supply chain issues across the board. Buying from foreign suppliers today may very well lead to delays in delivery, availability issues, and lead time problems.


The question you really need to ask yourself is: are you willing to deal with these headaches in an attempt to save a few dollars? If you are willing to roll the dice on that and end up paying more in downtime and delivery delays, how is that going to look to your manager?


The truth is, right now, there is no better time to buy American made. Our supply chain is doing better than many of the foreign alternatives. In the end, it is up to you to decide if gambling on cost savings that can result in lost dollars and time is worth it.


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How Availability Is Affecting Delivery Times For Shrink Films


This next issue piggybacks on the availability concerns mentioned above. If your foreign shrink film supplier is having problems with the availability of their films, how could you expect regular delivery times? Many foreign companies are scrambling to provide "windows" of delivery time based on anticipated delivery times of days gone by.


However, with current supply chain disruptions, that is not a balancing act that can or will pan out. When you fill-up a cart on a foreign shrink film provider's website, fill out all the appropriate information for shipping, billing, and payment options, you may want to think for a few extra seconds before hitting that submit button at the end of the checkout process.


If you are like many businesses across the USA, chances are, you have been shut down for weeks or, as  has been the case for thousands of companies across the country, months. After such extended periods of downtime, can you risk the late arrival of your shrink film orders by even one extra day? A week? A month?


Deep down, I think we all know that you really can't make these risks in good faith. Why? Taking such chances in the current climate will eventually end up with you being responsible for lost time and dollars due to late arrivals, availability issues and other problems related to the issues facing the global supply chain today.


Attempting to save a few dollars here and there with practices that will eventually result in much higher costs to your company is a bit like playing with fire.


My guess is even a few days of setbacks and downtime is not something you or your company is interested in playing with. Look. I get it! As a buyer, it is super tempting to save some money here and there, but are you willing to accept responsibility for late, inconsistent, or even failed deliveries?


And don't even get me started on the "fun" that you can expect if you end up with wrong or defective products. In some cases, you may have to foot the bill for the return and replacement of those items. But, even if you do not, can you really afford the days it will take to remedy that situation? Will your boss want to hear any potential excuses for more downtime?


Lead Times For Shrink Film


Before we get started in this section, let's ask ourselves, what is "lead time"?


Lead time is the amount of time between the start and finish of a process. To better illustrate this concept, consider the following example:


Let's say you are purchasing a new vehicle. The lead time between the submission of your order and the delivery of a brand new vehicle as provided by any given manufacturer may be between 3 weeks and several months, depending on multiple sensitive issues surrounding your order, like customized trims or interiors, for example.


Lead times are getting longer for many foreign shrink film sellers while here in the USA, they are staying consistent for the most part. Domestic lead times are, on average, simply less than many foreign options.


With that information in mind, I would ask you to ask yourself a question. With all the lost time that comes with unexpected downtime, are you willing to take a chance on a foreign film when you could end up paying more in the long run due to extended lead times?


If you are like many companies who have battled COVID throughout 2020, more downtime and latency is the absolute last thing you want to be adding to your daily challenges right now. If that’s the case for you, then you are going to want to buy domestic shrink films, primarily those which are American made.



Best Practices If You Must Order Foreign Films


Now, I understand that you may, for whatever reasons, be hard-pressed or even mandated to buy foreign films for one reason or another. Perhaps your company is headquartered in another country. They want you to buy from that geographical area to support their economy.


Maybe you have been buying a specific brand of foreign shrink film and have had no issues until this point and are not sure you want to switch to domestic films.


These are just a couple of the many reasons that you may still choose to purchase your shrink films from foreign countries. Now, if that is the case, here are a few tips to ensure that you are getting the best possible options when it comes to buying a foreign-made shrink film.


Customer Service


Again, suppose you have to buy foreign shrink films for whatever reason. In that case, another item you will want to consider the level of customer service with your chosen provider.


Be sure to choose a vendor with a user-friendly website that features a live chat (with a real human on the other end). Also, be sure to select a vendor that has an 800 number that will allow you to speak directly to a human being rather than fighting with an automated robotic system.


If you place an order and problems arise, you are not going to want to be running around in circles stuck inside of an automated customer service system.


Suppose your chosen vendor does not offer these services. In that case, you may very well end up wasting hours because of these poorly designed customer service options.


Return Policy


If you are buying from overseas, you will want to make sure that your chosen vendor for foreign shrink film has a return policy that is easy to manage and does not add additional costs. Ensure that the seller you choose will take responsibility for the cost and logistics of the return in question.


Be sure to find out if there are any fees associated with returns and what those fees are. When buying from overseas, you will often find expensive return fees associated with such transactions.


Buying American Made Shrink Film


If you are not beholden to buying foreign shrink films, we would wholeheartedly advise that you stick to American-made films. They are currently your best choice with the current issues surrounding the global supply chain at this present time.


When choosing a domestic vendor, you will want to consider the three items mentioned above for selecting a foreign vendor and apply the same analysis to your process of selecting a domestic vendor.


If you are not thrilled with the idea of spending so much doing all that research, you can reach out to one of our packaging experts. They will be able to help you identify the best brand and vendor for sourcing your domestic shrink film, even if that vendor is not us. We are here to help you choose the best company for packaging materials that fit your unique packaging needs.


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About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.