Just when we thought business would be back and booming post lockdown, businesses are now faced with challenging supply shortages worldwide. This is especially concerning as we enter peak buying season, heading into the holidays. The good news is, a shift in marketing approach can appease consumers, protect loyalty and, ultimately, deliver the goods.
But first, what happened?
Initially, COVID shut down non-essential businesses, impacting manufacturing and production operations. Next, consumers shifted their buying power to essentials and home-based products (gym, office, and school items), creating an unprecedented and unpredictable demand. Finally, the move to nearly exclusive online shopping resulted e-commerce sales almost doubling from February to May 2020, alone.
This wreaked havoc on the traditional supply-chain model, in which manufacturing and fulfilment are planned over 9 to 12 months. The massive shift in consumer purchasing happened too quickly for most business to adjust.
What didn’t change, however — indeed, what became more important than ever before — is the need for excellent customer service. Businesses have “trained” consumers to receive nearly instant gratification, with the majority of goods ordered online arriving on doorsteps within days. When that failed to happen as expected, customers became frustrated, and the risk of lost sales and loyalty increased.
What’s the Solution?
The goods news is that a shift in your marketing strategy and careful management of customer expectations and relationships can guide your business, whether online or bricks and mortar, through supply-chain challenges. When this crisis has passed, businesses who’ve stick-handled it skillfully will come out it on top.
Keep customers in the loop
- Real-time order tracking lets waiting customers know the status of their order (“your order has ben processed/shipped/delivered”) so they’re aware of delays
- Customers who remain patient through supply-chain hiccups should be rewarded with freebies, discounts or early access to new products
- Create waitlists/email alerts that notify customer when something is back in stock
- Physical retail has the opportunity to gather email addresses in order to notify customers of restocking
- Out of stock? No problem! Offer up similar products, even if they are more pricey. Availability is key. Bricks-and-mortar shops have an advantage here, as they can guide customers to existing alternatives on-shelf in real time
- Do this as soon as you hit a roadblock to prevent customers from cancelling and moving to your competition
Adjust your marketing plan
- Create specific campaigns that focus only on items you have in stock; for instance, if you have multiple products to showcase, promote them in our shoppable guides
- Develop campaigns that nurture existing customer relationships; remind them why they fell in love with your brand in the first place (excellent customer service; free, helpful resources; shareable content; etc.)
- Physical retail shops can institute loyalty programs to encourage repeat visits, and use that customer information to target those most interested in new stock as it arrives
Learn how Star Metroland Media can help bring these strategies to life. Fill out the form below to get started.
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