How should retailers communicate supply chain snafus?
Consumers are well aware of ongoing supply chain disruptions and expect delays but want answers, according to a study from Oracle.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults between Sept. 9 and 10 found that:
- Eighty-seven percent have been negatively impacted by supply chain issues over the past year with many unable to purchase certain items due to shortages (60 percent), forced to cancel orders due to delays (51 percent) and rationing essential items out of fear of running out (40 percent);
- Nearly all (92 percent) are concerned that supply chain shortages will prevent them from being able to buy what they need and 66 percent are worried it will ruin their holidays;
- Ninety-one percent plan to change their buying behavior moving forward, including buying in bulk and stocking up on items (49 percent), purchasing gifts earlier to allow for delays (45 percent) and paying closer attention to global shortages of items they regularly use (40 percent).
As far as consumers’ expectations for brands or retailers, 91 percent understand that supply chains are complex, but 94 percent want more support to help ease their worries. These include:
- More regular updates about shipping status (63 percent);
- More transparency on inventory (59 percent) and potential supply chain issues (54 percent);
- Refunds (56 percent) or discounts (52 percent) if items are delayed or cancelled.
A steady stream of media reports are warning consumers of higher prices and shortages, including of coveted toys this holiday season, due to supply chain bottlenecks.
At stores, the reports are confirmed by signs of higher prices and the occasional missing item or empty shelf, but retailers have generally been sparse in their communications about the pandemic’s supply chain fallout. In September, Costco again began putting limits on toilet tissue, paper towels, bottled water and some cleaning supplies related to the uptick in Delta-related demand and supply chain strains.
Convey by project44’s fifth annual holiday survey likewise found the top concerns this holiday to be out-of-stock items, cited by 50 percent; shipping delays, 46 percent; high prices of goods, 46 percent; and higher shipping costs, 41 percent.
- Survey: 82 percent of Americans Scared That Supply Chain Issues Will Ruin Their Life Plans – Oracle/PRNewswire
- Consumers Concerned About Out of Stock Items and Shipping Delays — But They’re Not Changing Their Behavior – Convey by project44/Business Wire
- Limits On Toilet Paper And Cleaning Supplies Are Back At Costco – NPR
- Costco Wholesale (COST) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should retailers be doing more to explain out-of-stocks to shoppers and prepare them for delays and price hikes tied to supply chain challenges? Should retailers consider offering refunds or discounts for inventory shortfalls?