Keep Calm and Carry On

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If you have a plan for coping with them, supply chain disruptions don’t have to derail your business or anger your customers 

Next-day delivery! Two-day shipping!

Such have been the promises of many mattress retailers. Until last summer, that is. 

Among the many frustrating repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic have been supply chain disruptions. By late fall, mattress industry supply chains were stabilizing overall, although intermittent product shortages and delivery delays popped up. With Covid-19 cases rising in many countries and widespread vaccine distribution still months away, we can expect supply chain troubles to continue.

It’s frustrating for retailers and consumers who have gotten accustomed to in-stock products and quick delivery. How can you keep customers happy in the face of snafus? We’ve got some suggestions.

O Change your focus. Instead of touting your speedy delivery, emphasize your excellent customer service and the various delivery options you offer. (For more ways to improve your delivery service, read the Tip Sheet in the November/December issue of Sleep Savvy. You also can find it at SleepSavvyMagazine.com/Special-Delivery.)

O Communicate, communicate! Maintaining regular, even daily, communication with your vendors allows you to stay on top of potential problems. All it takes is a quick phone call or email. And it goes both ways: Give manufacturers a heads-up regarding promotions you plan to run, say for Presidents Day weekend, so they can plan, too.

O Take advantage of drop shipping. In recent years, manufacturers — especially of sleep accessories — have developed strong drop-shipping operations. Most can get products to your customers’ homes within a few days. Again, keep in regular touch with your vendors to ensure they can commit to any delivery windows you promise.

O Be upfront. If you experience supply chain disruptions, note them on your e-commerce site — on the homepage, in a pop-up when shoppers purchase, and on the webpage where you explain shipping procedures. When shoppers browse in-store, warn of any possible delays before you ring up the sale. If unexpected problems arise, alert customers immediately. People are much more understanding if they are aware of hiccups early on. 

O Be honest. Because of shortages, some manufacturers occasionally substitute components. If you ship or deliver a bed with different specifications than the one the customer originally purchased, explain the change — even if the customer might not be able to tell the difference. “I wanted to let you know that the mattress you’ll receive on Tuesday has a slightly different innerspring than the bed you rest-tested. It’s actually a higher quality spring unit — at no extra cost to you. The component substitution will be noted clearly on your delivery receipt and the mattress will offer the same support and comfort your felt when you visited the store.”

O Present options. If there is glitch, give customers a choice. “I’m sorry we won’t be able to deliver your bed on the day we promised, and we’d like to make up for the inconvenience. Would you like us to refund the delivery fee or would you prefer a complimentary luxury sheet set?”