The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple problems within the supply chain, and we still have not yet completely recovered. While this was devastating for many businesses left with empty shelves, it also pushed them to source products that are made in the U.S. Not only is this helping the economy to recover with rapidity, but it also ensures that retailers get their products on time and hassle free.
Upcoming Holiday Supply Chain Challenges
“This upcoming holiday season poses unique challenges for retailers, given the delays in shipments we have seen over the past year and the shift in sourcing that will likely continue throughout 2021,” Sebastien Breteau, the CEO of QIMA, said. “The ability to accurately forecast what will be in demand for the holidays has always been a retailer’s greatest strength. However, as people return to the office and the world slowly opens, it becomes even more difficult to predict what products will fly off the shelf.”
Digitizing the Supply Chain
In order for retailers to make it through these difficulties, Breteau says for this year and moving forward, agility in sourcing will be critical. Digitizing the supply chain is a key component, but the industry as a whole is far off from achieving this. In a survey of over 700 brands and retailers conducted by QIMA, they found that over half (56%) of businesses have poorly digitized supply chains, with more than six percent still operating on mostly pen and paper. This will make managing quality at a time of shifting uncertainty difficult.
“There are several facets of digitizing the supply chain – from supply chain mapping, factory workers empowerment with digital tools, identifying trends in quality, inventory control, etc., but, at its most fundamental level, digitizing the supply chain is rethinking the manual processes that exist within supply management (e.g. manual pen and paper processes) and finding ways to share reliable data, automate, and streamline these activities. Not only does digitization provide more visibility into what is happening at the factory level, but it also frees up critical time for supply chain professionals, enabling them to focus on more revenue-driving activities,” Breteau said.
What Are Consumers Looking For?
It is imperative that brands take a hard look at this new pandemic-emerging consumer — especially from a generational perspective — and meet them where they are, to see success through the holiday season. Alchemy Worx, a full-service international digital marketing agency focused on audience management and retention strategies, released its “2021 Consumer Spending Snapshot,” conducted online with the third-party research firm YouGov, and found that over half (51%) of respondents said that their current purchases are only focused on essentials.
“During the pandemic, brands had to consistently adapt to shifting consumer attitudes,” Allan Levy, CEO of Alchemy Worx, said. “What we are seeing now is a consumer that is simultaneously hesitant to spend but also excited to get back into the world. While still focused on purchasing the essentials, consumers are eager to begin shopping again, especially for goods that align with their summer plans and perceptions of status. As brands fight to maintain the attention of these fickle consumers, those that succeed will stay ahead of shifting consumer sentiment with tailored communications that hit on their key motivations.”
Sourcing Available Products
The best way to give shoppers what they are looking for is to source high quality products from manufacturers inside the U.S. Retailers will be less likely to have empty shelves, keeping their customers happy and preventing them from looking elsewhere to find the missing products. A few great places to source products made within the country are through the ‘Made in USA’ category on WholesaleCentral.com, and through the Made in America trade show, which will take place at the Kentucky International Convention Center on October 1-3, 2021.
When sourcing products that are made in the U.S., retailers should be aware of manufacturers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are made in house. Back in January, an investigation by truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) into Walmart found that the company was trying to redefine the Federal Trade Commission’s legal standard for made in the USA to one that is not consistent with current law. Based on evidence found as a result of the investigation, the ad watchdog filed a complaint with the FTC urging the agency to put an end to Walmart’s deceptive claims once and for all.
This resulted in the FTC announcing on July 1 that it finalized a new rule which will crack down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are made in the United States. The FTC said under the new rule, marketers using Made in USA claims on their labels must be able to prove their products are “all or virtually all” made in the United States. This means final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States, all significant processing that goes into a product occurs in the United States, and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States, which will help retailers better determine which products are genuinely made in house.
Continuously Improving the Customer Experience
As always, never forget the importance of perfecting the customer experience. Even though having quality products available on the shelves will get you halfway there, no one will shop from you if the experience is not worthwhile. According to Mike Rittler, head of Retail Card Services at TD Bank, brands should keep in mind what they learned during COVID.
“Lessons from COVID are important for retailers to keep in mind, such as contactless payments. How are you checking out customers, making it seamless for them, or engaging online? Some consumers only want to engage online, and others want to engage first online and then you can follow up with them in store. Make that transition seamless for them and come up with innovative ways to take payments, whether that be paying in advance and picking up in the store or contactless payments on phones and watches,” Rittler said.
With this in mind, here are some great Made in USA products to add to your shelves during the fall and holiday seasons:
Tasty, convenient and fun to take, these CBD gummies are a reliable option for pretty much anyone. These gummy PhytoBites include 10mg of CBD each and other clean ingredients like organic tapioca syrup and organic cane sugar. These tasty treats are gluten free, vegan and, of course, THC free. There are about 30 servings per bottle, and the test results are available on their website.
This Body Glow Céleste Salt Scrub is the perfect solution for dull, lifeless skin. It delicately removes the dead outer layer to reveal a luminous, natural glow. Key ingredients include sea salt, jasmine, and nourishing Vitamin E. Potent Hyaluronic Acid keeps the skin looking its youthful best.
De Soap Boutique
For those customers who need a little help falling asleep, let them discover this organic hemp extract oral spray sleep remedy that leverages the healing powers of the hemp plant with traditional sleep aid ingredients to help users fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Free from harmful toxins and pesticides, the hemp is extracted from certified organic, non-GMO premium hemp grown in the USA.
Nu Bloom Botanicals
This necklace is part of Operation Feel Pretty! Pretty Hunter supports our military, and this necklace represents one of their efforts to act on that support. With each American Pride necklace purchased, Pretty Hunter will give one American Pride ring to a woman serving in the military. Made with Swarovski crystals and once-fired bullets.
This ready-to-use broad spectrum disinfectant and cleaner is included on the EPA List N for use against COVID-19. Can be used to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and has a fresh, clean scent.
Jay Manufacturing-Odor Control
Made right here in the USA, this genuine leather purse features two tooled roses and dangling fringe. The purse has a magnetic snap closure and an interior zipper pocket, and the removable strap and claw hooks allow the purse to be worn as a hip bag. Each purse measures 8.75 in x 5.5 in.
Infused with CBG Distillate Powder and Full Spectrum CBD, the Bespoke Recovery tincture helps support the healthy inflammatory response. All of the ingredients are 100% vegan and organic. Available in a delicious citrus flavor.
With a 5 star safety approval from the American Pet Association, this is a safe leash that attaches to any bike, tricycle, or chair to allow for a safe ride with you and your furry friend. It is the perfect option for energetic dogs weighing 10 to 185 pounds, and the unique design prevents tipping, tangling, and steering sideways.
Bike Tow Leash
This new kit will have users’ feet feeling heavenly soft in no time. Unscented and filled with shea butter, cold pressed Olea Oil, Cocoa Butter, and other moisturizing properties, this cream can be applied to feet twice a day as needed for buttery smooth soles. The kit comes complete with foot cream, a callus smoother, a foot massage Arch-N-Ball, and a pair of Footnanny white cotton socks.