How can convenience stores cope with lingering supply chain issues?
The answer is to take several commonsense steps that can help to minimize — but sadly, probably not end any time soon — the disruption.
Here are some strategies:
Communicate: The first step is the simplest — talking with current suppliers, in person if need be. Explain your difficulties and the damage that the nagging supply-chain issues are causing and see what if anything they can do about it. The squeaky wheel generally gets the grease, and so the customer sitting right in front of suppliers articulating their problems is most likely to get a supplier’s cooperation.
Explore other suppliers: Accept that if a current supplier cannot iron out your supply-chain issues, perhaps another can. The willingness to end a relationship in favor of a new one can be crucial in getting products back on store shelves.
Change the narrative: Shift the advertising, marketing and merchandising emphasis to products that have made it through the supply chain to your store. This may also involve changing menu offerings when key ingredients and/or supplies become hard to obtain.
Put expansion plans on hold: Postponing planned store openings and/or remodels until the supply chain crunch eases makes sense, assuming such delays are feasible.
Explain: Be open and honest with consumers. When the products they want aren’t on shelves tell them the truth: that the fault is not yours, that the problem is global, that you are doing everything in your power to remedy the situation, and that you are fully aware of — and sincerely regret — their inconvenience.
Get better: Another simple step is to up your in-store game. Improving store performance, adding available products or services, offering promotions or even just being friendlier than normal can help take the sting out of missing items.
Cut costs: Since sales may well suffer, taking steps to tighten the corporate belt can help soften a drop in revenue.
Buy local: Seek out local suppliers where possible — an obvious example is regional craft brewers — to shorten the route leading to your store.
Monitor inventory: Keep a closer-than-ever tab on inventory, and make smart projections based on internal data.
Adjust projections: Accept that supply chain woes may never disappear completely and that the process itself will almost certainly become increasingly complex in the months and years to come. Make that projection part of your business plan going forward.