5 ways to prevent supply chain delays affecting your promotional campaign

Karen Thompson / January 2022

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In the current climate of rocketing retail prices, promotional campaigns offer Brands that all important competitive edge. So it’s essential that we keep your promotions powering through to achieve your goals, whether that be to secure feature space, drive sales or maintain consumer loyalty!

Here’s 5 ways to prevent supply chain delays affecting your promotional campaigns, customers and consumers…

1. Choose gifts & prizes carefully

Some gifts/prizes have been more affected by delays than others – such as cars for example, which were on a year’s lead time at one stage. Those wanting a fast turnaround campaign may choose to avoid offering these items, however if you have a timeline that allows for it, offering these sought after items can become a powerful hook in a prize headline.

Working with a promotions agency can give you a bit of a head start when sourcing these sought-after prizes. For example, we’ve been able to partner-up clients with automotive companies thanks to our existing relationships, which has enabled them to run their ‘Win a car’ headline’ successfully. The key in these situations is to secure the prize, in this case a car, which enables the necessary visual assets to be pushed through for the POS and comms, whilst still being able to fulfil the terms and conditions. And then you need to ensure the car is financially secured and stored until it is ready to be delivered to the winner.

But if speed is what you’re after and you want to get your promotion live quickly, there are many fantastic options that have much shorter supply chains. Free Uber rides, win a VIP stadium visit, downloadable cinema tickets, digital coupons or subscriptions etc. Anything digital is going to be a safer bet.

If you can’t avoid long order periods (ie t-shirts, glasses, sports bottles, etc) then give yourself plenty of time to plan the campaign. This will allow you to get budgets signed off, samples delivered and approved and promotional stock in a warehouse ready for dispatch to winners when your campaign goes live.

2. Keep a constant check on delivery times for gifts/prizes

This sounds an obvious one, however promotional campaigns often include many prize tiers. Keeping a check on all lead times before your campaign goes to print is essential right now. Don’t forget to check the cost and lead times of follow-on orders upfront, just in case participation is much higher than anticipated.

If we keep to the car example, a headline could be ‘Win a car’ only to find delivery of the car is delayed by six months. This will not go down well with the winner! If you do find yourself in this position…don’t fret! Just keep the winner informed. Plan ahead of time of what delay comms will look like and ensure your terms and conditions support any actions you have to take due to the delay.

If you’re offering a high volume of gifts/prizes, remember to factor in how they will be packaged and delivery times on those packaging items too. Your agency should also factor in price rises by the Royal Mail and put these into a contingency budget.

3. The more accurate those redemption forecasts, the better

Use the experts to forecast redemption rates to ensure sufficient gift or prize stock can be stored locally before the promotion goes to print. For example, an on-pack headline offering a free t-shirt with purchase can be quite variable in terms of redemption rates. But a risk expert understands the variables so will help you forecast accurately. When you’re shipping in thousands of gifts, the less room there is for error the better.

Note: As far as the ASA are concerned, brands are responsible for ensuring sufficient stock of gifts throughout a promotion so as not to disappoint participants. And ‘While stocks last’ is not enough to protect you against any resulting CAP code/ASA complaints.

4. Ensure the T&C’s ‘s have it all covered

There are a few clauses in the T&C’s which are even more essential right now, such as offering cash alternatives if prizes are unavailable. To do this, you will need to know what the prize or experience is worth in its entirety.

Think ahead to what could possibly go wrong and tweak the T&C’s accordingly. For example, if you’re planning a promotion that offers consumers a free product coupon for a carton of juice, could delays in cardboard mean the product won’t make it to shelf in time? To avoid disappointed consumers, a solution here could be to tweak the T&C’s, giving consumers the option of redeeming the coupon against other bottled versions and sizes in that product range.

Whatever the situation, get the legal experts on board to ensure nothing is missed.

5. Give your promotion online flex

If at all possible, build an online promotional microsite for campaign entries. This allows much more flex in terms of last-minute changes to the promotion and communicating them to your consumer. A robust back end system allows for real-time stock management and extra time can be built into the delivery process if needed.

But what if your promotional packs get delayed?

If there’s a delay in getting your promotional pack into store… and the promotion has already gone live… all is not lost!

Depending on the promotion’s details, you may be able to extend the close date.

If it’s a ‘winning moments’ promotion, in the shortened period, you could make it easier for participants to win.

Note:  Terms and conditions must not be changed when a campaign is live. Instead, use social or other comms to let your consumers know there are changes to a campaign. And even more importantly, consult with your internal legal team for advice before making any changes.

Ultimately, this checklist is only intended as assistance and we always recommend that you get advice specific to your campaign.

Contact Nicola Christie on 01844 202045 for a chat about your next promotional campaign. We have 20 years experience and thousands of promotions expertly delivered through rain or shine!