Christmas in July!


Imagine having to plan your supplies of groceries, baby diapers and toiletries for 12 months.

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to be running out of milk, bread or toilet paper at the house.

For the residents of communities like, Iqaluit, Clyde River, Resolute and Pangnirtung in the Nunavut territory that has become the reality of life in such remote Northern communities.

With no roads or easy access in and out of these communities, planes and boats are the only way to get supplies in.

We have all heard about how expensive food is in these communities.  With the abolition of the food mail program which has now been transformed into the Nutrition North Program, we still experience many issues and food is offered at very prohibitive costs in those communities.

With air freight costs in excess of $8 per kg, you can imagine what this means when you are ordering a 10 kg bag of flour.

The alternative is to order your groceries and have them shipped by boat.  The process which is commonly referred to as “sealift” is nothing new and has been their way of life for many years.

So for those brave enough to accept a position in these communities this is how sealifts work.

You place your order for all non perishable products for an entire year.  The order is picked assembled and crated from our store then transported to the port of Valleyfield for the sailing through the St Lawrence, around Newfoundland and straight north.

This is not always an easy voyage with weather and sea ice being the main difficulties.  Even with communities in sight there is no guarantee that the product will make it there safely.  Having no sea port, all these communities depend on the tides and a series of barges to transfer the product from the ship to the beach.

Now imagine your 100 cases of food and basic elements delivered to you right on the beach.  That’s right, you take possession once the product arrives on the beach.

You are then responsible to transport it home and find room for all these goods.  Now remember no one has basements; and sheds won’t work as the product will freeze….You have to find new ways to store food, underneath the bed, extra shelving above the bed or simply taking over one of the bedrooms as a “sealift “ storage.

Imagine how exciting July can be then;  it’s like Christmas. The boat does not only bring your favourite food it also brings your new couch, television or automobile!

So next time you run out of something at the house just ask yourself: what would they do?

This is a great example of how an electronic integrated information system for ordering, transportation, shipping, billing and payment is being deployed to expand a retailer’s reach by serving consumers in remote and northern communities.

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