What’s the deal with some of these distributor delays??
If you’ve been keeping an eye on our preorder release tracker, you’ve probably noticed a huge chunk of items that say either “Distributor Delay” or “Severe Distributor Delay” or “Delayed Beyond All Recognition” or “Is This Even In Our Solar System,” and we’re here to shed a little light on why because if there’s one thing we love here at GP, it’s TRANSPARENCY.
(To clarify, this is specifically about the distributor handling lines like Moderoid, figma, Nendoroid, and most collectible figures on our site, although these same situations did affect Bandai and Kotobukiya ETAs but not as severely.)
Back in The Dark Times of late 2020 into 2021, a lot of businesses discovered that collectible-based ecommerce was extremely lucrative due to the amount of people finding new hobbies. This meant a lot of new businesses popped up into the distribution networks, or existing businesses had to increase orders for the lines they already offered. This wasn’t necessarily an issue for distributors who operate on preorders, because those items would not arrive for another 12-18 (sometimes even 24) months. It seems this very much led to a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” philosophy.
Unfortunately, upon reaching the bridge that had to be crossed, distributors on the west coast of the US discovered another thing: not only was there magnitudes more product ready to arrive at their fulfillment centers, but also there was a labor shortage at the ports. This led to an insane backlog of shipments simply sitting at the docks waiting to be unloaded.
Some time in the middle of 2022, everything came to a head. Seemingly simultaneously, every container was unloaded into distributor warehouses at such a pace that they simply could not be processed through fulfillment centers in time. The normal process of the past two years (which we laid out below) was not enough. Typically, shipments would go something like this:
- The distributor receives container(s) from the port.
- The distributor breaks out container(s) into component shipments according to retailer orders, palletizing them and notifying the office to invoice customers.
- The distributor office provides an invoice to retailers; this invoice serves as a notice of which items are ready and what payment is due.
- Retailers review the invoice for any order discrepancies or other issues; if there is an issue, the retailer notifies the distributor and the distributor has their warehouse adjust the quantities accordingly, providing an updated invoice if necessary.
- The retailer then notifies accounting to make payment for the shipment. Once payment is made, the distributor arranges for carrier pickup and notifies their warehouse.
- The freight carrier arrives, retrieves the shipment, and transit to the retailer is under way.
This process can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks depending on the amount of containers reaching the distributor at any given time, and suddenly this particular distributor received hundreds at once. They reached the point where they had so many incoming shipments that they could not even begin processing one day’s before the next day’s completely overwhelmed them. This led to the utilization of less specialized third-party logistics (3PL) facilities just to free up enough space for anything to function. We’ve done our best to illustrate exactly how this impacts specific shipments (and as a result, specific items) below.
In the picture above, you can see the way the process unfolds. A, B, and C signify three different warehousing facilities with a fixed amount of space for shipments. Once one facility is full, the others need to pick up the overflow.
Even if the first 45 pallets arrive at the exact same time, they still have to be organized in such a way that fits, which means some inevitably end up very far in the back. Then, as new shipments arrive, those newer items need to be cleared before the older ones can be reached. This leads to inconsistent and random-seeming shipment dates.
As time goes on, certain pallets and items can stagnate for extremely long periods of time. As an example directly related to our site, it would not surprise us if the Tekkaman Blade Model Kit, Moderoid Power Loader, and Moderoid Ceres & Windom are in pallets buried like the numbers we circled.
To be clear, we are not saying these slowdowns are normal or acceptable. We have already begun seeking (and in some cases obtaining) alternative sources for the most severely-affected lines and items, and we hope diversifying suppliers will future-proof our preorders from similar situations going forward.
As always, we'll continue updating our preorder release tracker with all information that we're able to get. You can also always email us your order number and we'll look into it for you! Thank you all for being so patient, and we look forward to being able to celebrate once all the Moderoid preorders are finally filled! (hopefully before 2026)