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Product shortages are an increasingly common problem in the modern world of retail and logistics. As more manufacturers compete for materials, distribution, and shelf space among a wide range of physical and ecommerce outlets, they can find themselves stretched too thin and unable to keep up with product demand.


This can have effects all the way down the supply chain, ending with your retail store and the customers you serve – especially with the holidays coming up, where product demand will be at the highest levels seen through the year. If your store deals in products that tend to have a high turnover or may be affected by shortages, here’s a few things you can do to get ready:


Remember to Keep Your Options Open: This isn’t applicable to every product you have to carry, but having a good relationship with a number of different distributors can help out in times of shortage and delays. Whenever you order a product that you think will sell well or prove popular, try to source another distributor (or two, if possible) that can fulfill orders for that product. There might be a price difference or shipping delay, but in the long run these might be preferable alternatives to not being able to stock the products at all.


Warn Your Customers: It’s a tricky balancing act to strike, but keeping your customers informed of potential shortages and delivery times is a good way to retain their trust and support and keep them coming back. If you stock a hot holiday item that flies off the shelves, try to keep as much open communication with your distributor as possible and share that knowledge with your employees and your customers. Any disappointment about not finding the item they need will be hopefully abated by being given a timeframe of when they can expect it back in stock.


Leave Space For Replacement Products: There’s a fine line between leaving shelf space for an upcoming shipment, and making it look like you don’t have enough products to meet demand. Depending on the size and layout of your store, you might consider readjusting your wire shelving and retail displays to fill the empty spaces with products that are currently in stock – but leave enough space for your missing items to comfortably fit back in when they make their way back to shelves.


Keep Calm and Carry On: It’s easy to forget about your other products or inventory issues when you’re worried about a hot product not coming in on time. Remember to take some time out to focus on your other, in-stock items, and carry on like normal – keep performing inventory counts, keep rotating stock in and out, keep marketing your other items, and remember to keep calm. Your missing items will show up, and your customers will still be there even if you’re waiting on the trucks to arrive.

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