How to Adjust Your Holiday Marketing Plan to Account for Supply Chain Issues
Nov 15 2021
With a pandemic still actively frustrating global supply chains, it’s no wonder retailers are seeking alternative means to remain proactive through another critical holiday season.
It’s likely your customers will experience increased pricing, limited selection and longer shipping times this winter — not exactly ideal circumstances for a big holiday push. However, adjusting ad strategies to address these problems with open transparency and providing additional incentives throughout the holiday shopping frenzy will go a long way toward preserving the trust of your customers.
Making smart marketing moves in the face of these unique supply chain challenges can help you win new business and stay ahead of the curve in the months ahead. Here’s what you should expect from this season’s supply chain disruptions, why it matters so much to advertisers and how best to communicate these challenges through your marketing messages.
State of the Global Supply Chain
Read pretty much any article on the ongoing supply chain crisis affecting retailers worldwide and one word will keep resurfacing — ”bottlenecks.” Physically moving materials and products around the globe has become an unpredictable venture, disrupted by delays, port traffic jams and blockages, and a continuous shortage of containers, dock workers and drivers.
These delays have turned the entire logistical structure behind supply chain management upside-down, causing some industry experts to predict product price hikes from anywhere between 5-30% this holiday season. Naturally, this means fewer discounted product offerings for your customers and in many cases a more limited product selection, particularly for those putting off their holiday shopping.
Retailers are facing bottlenecks at every turn, starting with simply accessing the materials needed for manufacturing and continuing all the way to labor shortages impacting timely delivery to the customer.
Why Your Marketing Team Needs to Understand Supply Chain Management
Advertisers need to be able to promise product availability to meet necessary demands, and around the big-spending holidays that demand is expected to skyrocket. Marketers must be proactive in their messaging as well as their management of online catalogues to ensure shoppers have a positive experience with their brand — nobody wants to be responsible for dozens of negative product reviews from unhappy customers who weren’t able to receive their orders in time for Christmas.
Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are expected to be under immense strain this winter trying to meet customer demands with half-empty shelves and product listings constantly unavailable due to a lack of supply. Marketers have to be aware of these issues and in constant communication with their colleagues to ensure they aren’t advertising promises that can’t be kept.
How You Should Address This with Your Marketing
Successful marketers need to be proactive this fall when it comes to maintaining healthy sales figures and protecting their brand’s reputation for reliability. Campaigns for unavailable products will need to be paused, the risk of longer shipping times needs to be clearly stated, and data feeds must be constantly updated to reflect these changes as they happen. Here are three quick tips to consider throughout this crucial Q4:
1. Are Your Messages Appropriately Transparent?
Unfortunately, supply chain issues aren’t expected to end anytime soon — the shock of various economic shutdowns, supply chain fractures, and drastic shifts in consumer buying behavior has introduced a measure of chaos to just about every retail business you can think of. That’s not to say it’s all doom-and-gloom for your business, but it does mean managing expectations with your customers requires constant action on the part of your marketing team.
Messaging within your ads must reflect the challenges facing your brand with honesty and openness. They should also include solutions your team is working on to continue providing a great customer experience. When you level with your audience, you encourage a higher measure of trust in your business.
2. Leverage First Party Data
One of the best ways to maintain honest communication with your customers through a crisis is to utilize first-party data to personalize your messages. This works in your favor for two reasons — first because users are always more likely to engage with messages tailored to their interests, and second because it helps your brand speak to its customers in a way that’s more believably human.
Spammy email blasts aren’t going to get you very far this fall, but dynamically retargeting a specific product left in a customer’s cart a few months ago with a simple “Now back in stock!” promotion might.
3. Keep Your Data Feed Updated
Your audience relies on you for the most up-to-date pricing, shipping, and product availability information. That information needs to be communicated effectively, not just on your branded website’s product order page but also within your active campaigns. Display and video ads for products that won’t be available to ship by Christmas likely need pausing, and marketers should also keep an eye on products that may soon arrive after being “stuck” somewhere in transit.
Taking action to ensure your active campaign budgets are promoting products customers can buy and receive this holiday season may sound like an intuitive principle, but goes a long way toward maintaining a strong ROI on your advertising efforts.
Make sure you know what’s in stock, how your website presents products that may require longer shipping times, and which of your campaigns need pausing once supplies run short.