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How to navigate email marketing in supply chain crisis

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The supply chain crisis has hit everyone hard. People expected things to go back to normal this year, but things are far from normal. Consumer goods from food items to medicine are in short supply, and this crisis only threatens to get worse.

With delayed shipments and falling inventories, there’s a great bit of uncertainty before the holiday season. Customers and retailers are unsure what products will be available in the coming days. 

Marketers need to inspire confidence in consumers around the holiday season. Of course, there isn’t much that you can do about the supply chain crisis itself. But you can keep the customers engaged and address their concerns. 

This is where email marketing becomes crucial. 

Customers are well-aware of the supply chain crisis, and marketers need to keep them updated with the latest information. Let the buyers know they are on top of your mind even as you deal with an unprecedented crisis. 

While you can keep people updated through social media, emails are more personal and direct. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind while writing emails to consumers in the holiday season. 

1. Be the first to reach customer

The supply chain crisis is one of the biggest stories in the media right now. And this means customers will get their information from a lot of sources. 

But they should hear about your business from you. Let them know if there has been a change in pricing or whether a product is out of stock. Even if the crisis hasn’t impacted you, get this information to customers. They might have other ideas. Whatever the case is, retailers cannot afford to be quiet and let others do the talking for them.

Beyond that, when customers complete an order, they should be updated on the entire process of delivery. Update them on everything from receiving inventory and storage to order packing and delivery. 

They should know when to expect the product to arrive even if there have been disruptions along the way. The worst thing retailers can do right now is keep customers in the dark.

2. Seek empathy and show appreciation

Empathy should be at the center of all your communication strategies. It’s especially valuable now that customers are frustrated due to supply chain shortages. Not only should you be empathetic towards customers, but you seek some empathy from them too.

Let the person reading your email know you are also affected by the crisis. A simple “we are also frustrated” would make customers see things from your point of view. Building on this, you should appreciate your regular customers who are patient. Mail them a special discount or simply send them a thank you note. 

Such gestures in turbulent times go a long way in strengthening your relationship with customers. It will also inspire loyalty that will outlast the current crisis. 

3. Suggest relevant alternatives

If we are being honest, a lot of customers are going to be disappointed in the coming weeks. Some might not find the products they want, while others will be frustrated by the delivery estimates. 

You can help these buyers by offering them relevant alternatives that are not impacted by the crisis. The emphasis here is on relevance as completely unrelated suggestions aren’t going to be received well. 

So make a list of in-stock alternatives along with their estimated delivery time and mail it to customers. 

4. Market products that are available

Retailers need to adapt and adapt quickly. Some of your best-performing products might be unavailable in the holiday season. You have little choice but to seek new markets for products that are in stock. 

The items you have might not have been sold well in the previous years. But that could be because you could not market it to the right audience. Maybe you have products that appeal to Gen Z, but your email list is full of Millennials and Gen Xers. Try to reach the inboxes of new prospects from different age groups.

Meanwhile, advertise the in-stock products to regular customers who might not have shopped in the past. Tell them how it will resolve a problem they might have. 

4. Continue to provide value

Just because you’re short on stock doesn’t mean you can’t still provide value to customers. Create how-to guides for different products that customers would find useful. Ensure your weekly newsletter has the latest insights or email them FAQs related to the ongoing crisis. 

Educate the customers about what’s happening in the industry. When you consistently provide knowledge to customers, they begin to see you as an expert and develop a certain level of trust. This does more to build you as a brand than any marketing campaign. 

Email marketing has evolved over the years, and now it’s more than just advertising your products. It’s about fostering a deeper connection with the customers. Your goal is to keep the customers engaged using your brand voice that they find familiar.

5. Get the customers involved

In times like these, it’s important to get your point across to customers. However, it’s equally important to hear out their concerns as well. If you’re unsure how you can help them, simply ask.

Ask them about how the current crisis is affecting them. Pick their brains on the email content they find most valuable and whether you can make any improvements. Ask them to fill out a short survey. Hear out any question they might have about your business

The responses could help you improve your business and create invaluable content for future emails. 


Businesses, big and small, are feeling the impact of the supply chain crisis. Shortages are going to be a major issue in the coming months. As mentioned before, there’s little any retailer can do about the situation. What they can do is transform their email marketing according to the circumstances.

Usually, you would send your hottest item with a coupon code to customers, hoping the customer would be enticed to buy. But there’s a chance you wouldn’t have that product in your inventory this time around. Marketers should not sit idle and let customers guess whether a product is available or not. Instead, it would be best if you were proactive with your communication. 

By offering alternatives, providing the latest information, and showing appreciation for their patience, you can remind customers that you value and care for their experience. The impact of effective email marketing right now will outlive the current supply chain crisis. It may even instill loyalty among your buyers.


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