Holiday Shortages and What Small Businesses Can Do to Stay Ahead

Whether you’re sourcing materials/items from the US or internationally, you’ve probably felt some strain from the supply chain delays hitting almost every industry. Because of this, experts are already warning businesses and consumers that they should brace for a tough holiday season. Items may be out of stock by peak holiday shopping time, the end of November, and other items are so backdated that they might not be able to release until 2022.

If you’ve been feeling that strain on your business due to the supply chain issues, then it’s time to brace for the holiday season. Both small business and large corporations alike are going to be competing for items and supplies, and unfortunately the corporations sometimes come out on top because of a larger budget and connections. That’s why it’s so important to start planning for the holiday season now. Here are some ways for small businesses to survive these next few months:

Order at least 8 weeks ahead and order extra. If there’s any holiday stock you don’t have yet, look into ordering it now. It may be too late because of delays, but it doesn’t hurt to check it out. Set up alerts for when items come back in stock – luckily, a lot of websites will have this option. Do this for any items you’re in short supply of or are bestsellers during the season.

Take inventory of your stock. Whether you’re a retailer or offer a service like home improvement, it’s important to know your stock when people are making inquiries. If you won’t be able to complete a request, let the customer know. Being unaware of shortages in your own stock could cause a major issue if people buy products you don’t actually have or a service you aren’t able to complete. Let the customers know the estimated wait time—some may be willing to still go through with their order. Not being transparent about delays, however, could cause disgruntled customers.

Consider raising shipping costs. Shipping costs rise in general around the holiday season due to demand, but the delays still happening as a result of COVID-19 will delay packages like we saw in 2020. People also continue to use online shopping more exclusively, which means shipping partners are handling higher volume.

Set a cut-off date for delivery. Take note of how long it takes for retail orders to reach your customers, and then choose a cut-off date. Let customers know that if they order after that date, it’s not guaranteed the package will arrive before the holiday. Inform customers well in advance on your socials, email list, and order form.

Make sure your website is prepared. When you’re competing against large corporations, it’s essential to have a working website and ecommerce platform. Check it often to make sure it’s all running smoothly and everything is updated. Also check your email and socials for any customer comments about ordering issues with the website. 

Be transparent with customers. Let your customers know now what to expect this holiday season because of all the reasons above. If you’re out of an item because of the supply or shipping delays, let your audience know. It’s been affecting every industry, so consumers should already be aware of issues like this. Let them know you’re trying your best to get items back in stock, but unfortunately there’s not much you can do. It’s a stressful time for businesses and customers alike, so being transparent will be appreciated.

Create a mailing list with updates and special deals. If you’ve got a popular item, encourage your customers to sign up for your email updates to be the first to know when you’ve got products back in stock. You can also use this list to send out exclusive offers that will encourage more customers to start acting now with their purchases.

Beef up your reviews. Use that same mailing list to send out a request for testimonials on Facebook and Google My Business. Data shows that a majority of people now do initial research on a business before ordering, and those ratings are a big factor in their decision. You can also reuse them across your online marketing.

Create a holiday marketing campaign. Now is the time to think about how you’ll be advertising this holiday season. How can you create fun, relevant advertising and also make the best of the situation? Some marketers are trying out FOMO, or the “fear of missing out”. Try using key words like “limited time, today only, one-day deal, last chance, sale ends soon” or a countdown on your Instagram Stories to really create some urgency. If you’ve got a brick-and-mortar store, decorate it for the season. Also make sure to use holiday-inspired designs for your graphics to really inspire the seasonal cheer and remind people they need to buy those presents.

Staying positive and making the best out of a tough situation will be your guiding light this 2021 holiday season. If you’re afraid your marketing materials aren’t up to the task, send us a message. We’re your Marketing Department for Hire.