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Survey: Supply chain delays present retail crisis — and opportunity

supply chain
Consumers will reward retailers that mitigate supply chain issues.

Retailers aren’t the only ones concerned about — or taking action in response to — ongoing supply chain disruptions.

Worries about delivery delays, product shortages and disruptions are worsening across the nation due to the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, according to a study of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers by Oracle. The study found that consumers are taking action, with 91% of respondents planning to change their buying behavior moving forward. This includes buying in bulk and stocking up on items (49%), purchasing gifts earlier to allow for delays (45%) and paying closer attention to global shortages of items they regularly use (40%).

The study also found that people are looking to brands to help resolve supply chain issues. While nine in 10 (91%) respondents understand that supply chains are complex, 94% still want more support from brands to help ease their worries. Eighty-four percent of respondents say delays would cause them to cancel an order, and 80% say delays or shortages would even cause them to stop buying from a brand entirely.

In addition, 58% of respondents would stop buying from a brand after one to three delays or disruptions. However, there are steps retailers can take to counteract the negative impact of supply chain delays, and even create a competitive advantage.

For example, 63% of respondents want brands to provide more regular updates about shipping status, 59% want them to be more transparent on inventory, and 54% want them to be more transparent on potential supply chain issues. More than half of respondents want brands to offer refunds (56%) or discounts (52%) if items are delayed or canceled.

Furthermore, 81% of respondents are willing to pay a premium for smooth and timely delivery of their items. More than three-quarters of respondents would trust (76%) and be more willing to buy from (78%) a company if they knew it used advanced technologies like artificial intelligence to manage its supply chain.

Almost half (45%) of respondents admit they never thought about how products were delivered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now 91% consider the supply chain when making a purchase.

The survey also reveals a wide variety of negative effects supply chain disruptions are having on consumers’ daily lives. These include:

  • Concern over being able to buy what they need (92%).
  • Concern over future disruptions (92%).
  • Concern over the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant (77%).
  • Concern over holidays being ruined (66%).
  • Concern over supply chain issues never ending (66%).
  • Feeling frustrated (61%).
  • Feeling impatient (46%).
  • Feeling anxious (45%).
  • Feeling angry (34%).

Other interesting findings include:

  • 87% of respondents have been negatively impacted by supply chain issues over the past year, with many unable to purchase certain items due to shortages (60%), forced to cancel orders due to delays (51%), or rationing essential items out of fear of running out (40%).
  • 89% of respondents believe supply chain disruptions will continue to negatively impact their futures. People are most fearful of out-of-stock items (62%), challenges in buying seasonal products (45%), and increased stress and anxiety while shopping (44%).

[Read more: Retail import growth slowing amid supply chain disruptions

“These insights paint a clear picture that the ongoing global supply chain issues are impacting many Americans,” said Jon Chorley, group VP of supply chain management product strategy and chief sustainability officer, Oracle. “Ultimately, the supply chain is where brand promises are either met or broken. Organizations that are able to provide the supply chain efficiency and transparency that customers expect will be rewarded with greater customer loyalty and accelerated business growth.”

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