Deal with Supply Shortages: You Don’t Have to Take Products Offline

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You might have had difficulties getting some of your favorite products on the shelves or even online recently. Lumber, medications, food, and cars are a few limited supply items. The disruption of the supply chain makes things a lot more challenging. Reports show that these disruptions went up by about 638% in 2021. This can be a significant disadvantage for e-commerce stores.

If you sell craft items that use any of these products or sell those that fall into scarce product categories, you ask yourself how to go about it. This article describes some steps to handle supply chain shortages, make your customers happy, and make a profit.

Since we understand the downsides of supply shortages, it is crucial to know the best ways to deal with them. Here are a few ways to manage supply shortages:

1. Evaluate Your Supply Chain

You need to examine all the parts of your fulfillment and manufacturing process. This will help you overcome any shortage and improve the visibility of the process. Try to know where each item comes from, the arrival time, whether there are delays or gaps, and finally, the cost. After doing this, you should check for ways to improve.

See if you can increase your order to have more products or materials. You should also check if you can increase the shipping time to avoid breaks in deliveries. If your supplier is the issue, you can look for a different supplier. However, it won’t always be effective, especially if there’s a global shortage.

If the problem is with suppliers overseas, you can look for local suppliers. However, local suppliers might be expensive, but it’s still better than none. Diversification is also a good idea. You can collaborate with different suppliers to avoid disappointment.

2. Look For An Alternative Material

Now is the time for creativity. If you can’t seem to find a particular material or it is more expensive, think of possible alternatives. For instance, if you use lumber for your product, you can consider bamboo, wood composite, or hemp. You can use silicone in place of rubber.

What if the packaging and shipping materials are short in supply? If you sell knitting materials, why not pack them with yarn in place of bubble yarn? Be creative and look for the ideal way out.

3. Inform Your Customers About Shortages And Delays

One of the essential things in every business is to inform your customers about shortages, shipping delays, and out-of-stock items. Most of the time, your customers will understand if you tell them beforehand. But if they find out later, they might be pissed. Here are some possible solutions:

  • Add A Note To Your Store: Make this note visible and put it on every page of your website. Inform customers about item shortages or production delays, so they know beforehand.
  • Create New Order Status: Send emails and add new order statuses, so they know where their goods are in the fulfillment process.
  • Put The Information On The Cart Page: Tell them about the delay one more time.
  • Make Tracking Information Available: Allow your customers to track their orders and know how far along the delivery process.

4. Inventory Management

Inventory management is essential during supply shortages. You don’t want customers to purchase a product that is not available. So, you can start by checking your warehouse fulfillment center and seeing what you have in stock.

After this, you can update your site. If an item is challenging to get, you can put it out of stock for a long time. An inventory management tool can save you stress since it is automatic. It is well synced, and the information is accurate. It is also helpful if you also sell in the local market, online marketplace, or retail store.

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5. Add a Waitlist Section To Your Store

A waitlist is perfect when you want to avoid missing sales opportunities and items are out of stock. A happy new shopper or a loyal customer would be excited to wait for the available products. E-commerce website builders like Shoplazza, Shopify, Wix, etc., offer waitlist extensions. Here, customers can sign up for email notifications whenever a product is available.

6. Adjust Prices If Necessary

What do you do when the materials and products are available, but their prices have gone up? You might need to increase the price of the product. Research shows the price of goods jumped by about 5.4% in 2012 due to high material costs, manufacturing, and labor.

Try to analyze everything and calculate everything to find the new price that will favor you. Letting your customers know about the change in cost is also essential.

7. Eliminate Waste

Take a look at your warehouse and look for ways to eliminate waste. The less waste you dispose of, the more you sell. Here are ways to analyze and improve:

  • Packaging: How can you keep the product safe during shipping? Invest in high-quality boxes, try extra padding, and ensure superb refrigeration.
  • Storage: Think of ways to preserve your items to prevent spoilage, breaks, and accidents.
  • Returns: Look for ways to reduce returns, like answering many questions and providing an accurate picture. Be straightforward and truthful about product descriptions.
  • Manufacturing: Look out for ways to recycle or reuse raw materials. This is an effective way of reducing material waste.

8. Work Ahead and Have an Emergency Stock

Do not wait till you’ve run out of raw materials before placing an order for a new one. It is better to order ahead of time. Keeping emergency stock of products, packaging materials, and manufacturing materials is also essential. It will be helpful whenever there is a shortage, and it won’t cause a delay.

Final Thoughts

Do not panic whenever you experience a shortage in supply. You do not always have to take your products offline. Follow the steps discussed above to understand the best ways to handle the situation.

(Contributed by Ayotomiwa Omotosho & Hermes Fang)

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