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8 Ways Retail Marketers Can Keep Customers Happy Despite Supply Chain Issues

It may be up to retail marketers to bring the holiday cheer this year. Rather than accept the disappointment of shipping delays, tackle them head on with digital marketing strategies that will keep customers informed and happy.

Granted, with many retailers expecting to be out of stock in key gift categories like electronics, toys and clothing, it will be no easy task. But with a few tweaks to your marketing plan, including these eight ways to keep customers happy this holiday season, your team can deliver.

  1. Be transparent and explain what you’re doing to address supply shortages and shipping delays. Everyone appreciates honesty. Send an email from the CEO, display this message front and center on in-store signage and on your website. These aren’t excuses, rather, ways to show that you’re aware of the issue, what you’re doing about it and possibly gain a bit of empathy.
  2. Segment and target communications. Communicate early and often to your customers about deals and delays, but don't batch and blast. Segment customers based on their purchase history to let them know when they may experience issues with products they typically order or have shown interest in.
  3. Have shipping and transaction notifications nailed down and running smoothly. It may seem obvious, but we can’t say enough how important it is to be proactive. Communicate status changes on orders in real time via SMS or email, whichever the customer prefers, so there are no surprises. If an order isn’t available, recommend similar alternative products that aren't sold out or on long backorder. Also notify them when their preferred item comes back in stock.
  4. Give consumers the option to opt in or out of receiving an alternative when a selected brand is out of stock. It’s annoying when a retailer randomly switches the brand of a subscription product, like toilet paper or detergent, without giving the option to opt out or skip their purchase. Give customers a choice.
  5. Don’t advertise out-of-stock products. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing an ad for something you love only to find that it’s out of stock when you go to purchase it. Connect inventory data to your marketing platform and make sure holiday ads only feature products that are available.
  6. Implement a post-purchase journey with timely status updates and content that keeps customers excited about their purchases, especially large items or those with particularly long wait times, like furniture and appliances.  Examples: 5 Ways to Style Your New Couch, Prepare for Delivery Day Now and 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your New Washing Machine. Share this content before the purchase as well to highlight why your products are worth the wait!
  7. Encourage customers to create a wish list for out-of-stock items. Then notify them when these items become available. This keeps customers interested, your brand top of mind and creates a funnel for future purchases.
  8. Know what your “make it up to you” offer will be and have these communications ready. Whether it’s a rebate, in-store credit or refund, know what you will offer when a product doesn’t arrive on time. Consider sending a complimentary gift with a note that says when your product is due to arrive. This gives the gifter something to give, the receiver something open, and keeps everyone excited.

It’s never too late to tap into marketing best practices, like monitoring email deliverability, testing content and CTAs, personalizing messages and offering lots of ordering and pickup options. 

Make your marketing shine with these and more strategies in our Holiday Guide for Marketers so you can spread holiday cheer and not leave customers disappointed this year.