Apple has been taking additional steps to ensure that its products are still getting delivered on time during the pandemic. The company has been spending extra money and using its scale to use additional cargo ships and private jets to move products around.
At a time when every company is struggling with not only shipping, but even manufacturing products, Apple has been able to ensure that all of its major new product launches have been backed by sufficient stock (the company had constantly been launching new products every month), and even shipped to customers on time.
Apple used its checkbook to ensure products delivered on time in 2020
As per a new report by The Information, Apple had a crazy time during 2020 in maneuvering its humungous supply chain during tumultuous times. To ensure that its iPad orders could be fulfilled in February 2020, after a demand spike from China due to people being put under lockdown, Apple had to ship brown mailing boxes from the United States to Singapore, instead of shipping them from China to Singapore.
Last February, Apple’s Singapore distribution center ran out of the brown mailing boxes needed to fulfill a spike in iPad orders from China, stemming from increased demand for remote-learning devices, said a person with direct knowledge of Apple’s logistics operations. While the specially designed iPad mailing boxes were originally made in China, the only solution that avoided delays for customers was to fly in a shipment of the boxes that was sitting unused at a warehouse in the U.S.
Products like AirPods, which Apple usually ships by air, have been shipped by sea to allow faster transport for new iPhone 12 models, which have been in high demand ever since launch.
For example, last year Apple began shipping some AirPods by sea for the first time. In the third quarter of last year, the company greatly increased ocean freight for older model iPhones, whose delivery is less time sensitive, to free up air cargo space for the new iPhone 12, according to an analysis of vessel manifest data and the person with direct knowledge of Apple’s logistics operations.
The company also utilized 200 private jet charters, which are usually very expensive, to add to its delivery capacity, as its partners had run out of bandwidth. This was on top of passenger plane capacity which is also used to ship products. 200 private jets in 2020 was a record number of charters for Apple, which had only used three private jets for iPhone 7 launch in 2016 to increase its delivery capacity.
Even in 2021, the company continues to spend more effort and money to ensure business as usual continues with delivering products on time. Apple has also taken additional steps to setup its retail stores as distribution centers, essentially using them for last mile logistics. It is getting its courier partners to collect products from its retail stores to ship them to customers, cutting down on transport and delivery times.
The company’s efforts seem to have paid off, as it was perhaps the only company that was able to produce and ship new products on time. Just look at Nvidia, AMD, Sony and Microsoft, who are still facing trouble with catering to customer demand for their new products.