Explaining Demand-Based Shipping and Why Your Jeep's ETA Can Change

Parkers39

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I spent a long time on the phone with my dealership and Jeep's customer service team over the past few weeks, trying to understand why my deliver ETA keeps getting pushed back. After doing some independent research, I learned that Jeep works off of what's called a "demand-based shipping" priority. I wanted to explain it to the forum with hopes of offering some better understanding as to why your completed Jeep might be sitting in a shipping lot for a few weeks.

What is Demand-Based Shipping?

Whenever there is a new product, inventory is seldom substantial enough to meet consumer demand for the first few months. This shortage of inventory creates two problems: 1) stores don't have the products to sell and 2) manufacturing can't ship out products until they have enough to fill a truck. This leads to demand-based shipping practices.

Demand-based shipping says, "If you want to buy a full truck of inventory, I'll move you up the priority list and ship it to you ahead of orders for 1/2 a truck. If you want to buy half a truck of inventory and a store near you wants to buy the other half of inventory, I'll prioritize your shipment ahead of a store which requires a dedicated truck which is only half-full. Et cetera."

In short - when it comes to Jeeps, the more inventory your dealership is willing to onboard, the faster the shipment will arrive. So if your dealership already has a few JLs sitting on their lot and (likely) has a ton of unsold JKs collecting dust, it's unlikely that they are going to buy another truck's worth of JLs just so your custom ordered JL arrives faster.

So how will my Jeep ever get here?


After the demand-based shipping priority is fulfilled, Jeep will start making regionalized shipments. They'll likely prioritize dealerships who have yet to receive a single JL on their lot, followed closely by those which have shown early success in selling JLs they've had in inventory. With the regionalized distributions, it's very easy for Jeep to throw one or two custom -ordered Jeeps onto the truck. Similarly, if a nearby dealership or the dealership you placed your order with requested a partial order, they may fill the rest of that truck with custom ordered Jeeps.

This is an imprecise system because, literally, at any time there could be a last minute change to the priority. If a dealership in Dallas says today they want two trucks of JLs delivered ASAP, then Jeep may reroute a regional distribution truck that was intended for Philadelphia to accommodate the immediate demand in Dallas.

Is there a risk that MY custom ordered Jeep would be sent to the wrong dealership?

I suppose anything is possible. However, its very unlikely that it would happen. As I said before, the custom ordered Jeeps are add-ons to standard shipments. In other words, they are the last Jeeps loaded onto the truck and will likely ONLY be put on the truck if that truck cannot be cancelled or rerouted.

When can I believe an ETA?

Honestly... never. Even if your ETA is for today, there is always a chance something changes. The ETA is more reliable the further away you are from Ohio. If you live in New Mexico and your ETA is set for tomorrow, chances are it's on its way and any delay would be the result of weather-based complications. This is because they can't drive a truck from Ohio to New Mexico in less than a day, so the ETA would have been pushed back if it weren't already on the road. However, if you live in Western Pennsylvania, they CAN make that drive in relatively short period of time, so they could theoretically reroute a truck that is scheduled for departure later today and push your ETA back another week or two.

So wouldn't it stand to reason that an ETA could be moved up?

Yes... and if you listen to other forum users... it has happened a lot already. In some cases people are told one day that their ETA was moved back a full week only to be told the next day that the ETA was moved up and the car will arrive in the next day or two. Using the demand-based shipping model, custom-ordered jeeps are good space-fillers for partial orders. This is why dealerships love to take custom orders in the first place. It's a guaranteed sale (or at least a vehicle with a deposit on it) they can use to fill out an order without raising inventory expenses.

Is there a guaranteed "no later than" date for delivery I can bank on?

Yes and no. Jeep will almost certainly get you your completed order within 5 weeks of the build completion date. This is not guaranteed, but it'd take a pretty extreme set of circumstances for the shipment to go over 5 weeks. The recent fulfillment issue with the dual top orders is one such example of an unforeseen issue which caused lengthy delays in delivery. Barring similar circumstances with your custom order, Jeep will make it a point to send out every custom order within that 5-week window. This isn't related as much to customer service as it is to storage space. The production lot will order the inventory from earliest production date to latest production date, so if your Jeep makes it allllll the way to the front of the line, they need to cycle it out to avoid complicated log jams.

How are ETA windows structured?

ETA windows should cover a 5-to-7 day span based on where you live. When an ETA window is moved back, it SHOULD only move back 3 days. So if you have an ETA of 3/19 - 3/23 and you learn it's delayed, it should move the window back 3 days to 3/22 - 3/26. The only way they'd move that window back MORE than 3 days is if there are weather-related delays.

What is the "logjam" everyone was talking about a few weeks ago?

Ohio (where the Wranglers are manufactured) was crushed by snow storms in early March. Many of the shipments were held back for days as a result. Since there are only so many trucks to make the shipments, delays not only pushed back ETAs, but also strained the capacity for storing new production Wranglers in the storage lot. So production was at least slowed (if not stopped) for a short period of time AND outbound trucks were behind on deliveries.

Here are some key takeaways:

1) If you are custom ordering a Jeep in the future - remember that your car will not go into the dealerships inventory. So you should be able to leverage that reduced expenditure to maybe negotiate your price down. It's not unthinkable that a motivated dealership could shave off $2 - $3k from the sticker price, so don't be afraid to mention that when you first begin your order.

2) When you receive an ETA on your shipment, don't put too much stock in that time frame. You might be one of the lucky few who has their custom Jeep arrive 3 or 4 weeks after placing the order. More likely, you'll be one of the majority who have their jeep arrive 6 to 8 weeks after placing the order.

3) Check your ETA window with Jeep Chat and with your dealership frequently. I recommend checking with Jeep Chat daily and with your dealership once per week. If you're like me, you need to move some things around to accommodate the the time it takes to get to the dealership and sign the papers (leave work early, arrange carpools for the kids, find someone to sub in as soccer coach, reschedule drinks with a friend, etc). So don't just assume that - because your ETA was pushed back - it won't get moved back up the next day. I know I'd hate it if I were out somewhere and got the call the Jeep arrived and I couldn't pick it up for another day or two due to obligations.

I know it's little consolation to understand why you don't have your Jeep yet, but hopefully this will help temper expectations and avoid the dreaded let-down when you hear your ETA was pushed back another 3 days.

UPDATE: Believe it or not, mere hours after I made this post, I got a call from my dealership saying my car had arrived. This AFTER I learned over the weekend that my ETA was pushed back a full week. So I'm now living proof that the ETA provided by Jeep Chat is nonsense lol.
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Yellow109r

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:like: Great post.
 

RubiMom18

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Thanks so much! I'm driving myself (and my hubby) crazy. The wait and the unknown are killing me!
 

dudemind

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My dealer also mentioned that they get cars sooner if they agree to take on less-desirable-but-already-built stock. Might just be the usual "look how good we are to you!" spiel, but maybe there's some truth to it. Like maybe they'd get a truckload faster if they grab one JL and three JKs versus four JLs? Pure speculation on my part, based on biased info from the dealer.

My real-world example: I received my order on day 29 from order date (way out in Southern California, so that's pretty quick). My JL arrived on a truck with four other Wranglers, all JKs, I'm assuming along with other Jeeps. Two of those JKs were manuals, which don't really sell around SoCal. None of those other ones were customer orders, and the dealer claimed they had to take a hit and accept some JKs they didn't want in order to get my rig in as soon as possible, a suggestion that I politely shrugged off, thinking, "whatever, buddy."...

Not going to conclude that they were in fact trying to take care of me, as I still don't know what else goes on in the agreement between them and the manufacturer.
 

$uicide$hift

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My dealer also mentioned that they get cars sooner if they agree to take on less-desirable-but-already-built stock. Might just be the usual "look how good we are to you!" spiel, but maybe there's some truth to it. Like maybe they'd get a truckload faster if they grab one JL and three JKs versus four JLs? Pure speculation on my part, based on biased info from the dealer.
There is truth to this. I was just shooting the bull with a sales manager late one night. Was not in the market and he was not trying to sell me anything. He was telling me how they took in 3 of the 2014 Dragon Edition Jeeps as a deal to get something else from the manufacturer. I cannot recall what it was but it does not matter. To get what he wanted the manufacturer forced him to take three Jeeps he did not want.

Those Dragon Edition Jeeps were not popular. He was able to finally sell two heavily discounted and the third he could not sell. He spent money to re-upholster the seats and remove the dragon decals to move it at a loss.
 

Matthew/E36

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UPDATE: Believe it or not, mere hours after I made this post, I got a call from my dealership saying my car had arrived. This AFTER I learned over the weekend that my ETA was pushed back a full week. So I'm now living proof that the ETA provided by Jeep Chat is nonsense lol.

Thanks for your time in sharing. I definitely learned something...if I just write a long enough post, my jeep will be in the lot by the time I'm done!

Really, I did laugh when I got to your update. You were nice enough to write this whole thing and after you gave us all a good overview, you were at least rewarded! Lucky for us you wrote this when you did, haha!
 

RubiMom18

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UPDATE: Believe it or not, mere hours after I made this post, I got a call from my dealership saying my car had arrived. This AFTER I learned over the weekend that my ETA was pushed back a full week. So I'm now living proof that the ETA provided by Jeep Chat is nonsense lol.
Karma!! That is awesome for you! Post pics :)
 
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Parkers39

Parkers39

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Karma!! That is awesome for you! Post pics :)
I have some in my garage already - but I'll post some nicer photos when the weather gets better here in Philly. For now - here's the collection of iPhone photos i've taken thus far:

IMG_5022.jpg
Taken this morning
IMG_5023.jpg
3 inches of snow already and it's still falling
IMG_5024.jpg IMG_4990.JPG
First time I laid eyes on my JLU. I couldn't believe the day was finally here. IMG_4991.JPG IMG_4994.jpg
The view from my desk. I park all the way around the side of the building so I can see my Wrangler from my office window.
IMG_5014.jpg IMG_5017.jpg
 

agordon117

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This post is very true. It sucks for a lot of us, but it's the way it works. Especially right now, shipping prices are sky high and there's more loads than there are trucks to haul them, let alone rail cars. I do have to question the efficiency of their system though. My jeep is done and it's 2 hours toledo to my dealer by car. Even if the other dealers in the area had only a handful of other wranglers, with the hiked transportation fee it should be no problem to spend half of a day hitting the dealers around me with only half of a load. Could still load the truck up again the same day. But instead of focusing on clearing out their overcrowded lot, they seem to be spending more time calculating the most efficient load than it would take to make a good number of deliveries.

Method A: 12 cars delivered in 1 load
Method B: 10 cars delivered in 1 load, 4 days sooner
Time spent calculating the difference between method A and method B: 2 days

That's what it feels like anyway.
 

RubiMom18

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I have some in my garage already - but I'll post some nicer photos when the weather gets better here in Philly. For now - here's the collection of iPhone photos i've taken thus far:

IMG_5022.jpg
Taken this morning
IMG_5023.jpg
3 inches of snow already and it's still falling
IMG_5024.jpg IMG_4990.JPG
First time I laid eyes on my JLU. I couldn't believe the day was finally here. IMG_4991.JPG IMG_4994.jpg
The view from my desk. I park all the way around the side of the building so I can see my Wrangler from my office window.
IMG_5014.jpg IMG_5017.jpg
Nice! I'm jealous!
 
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