You’ve probably noticed the signs in your daily life: grocery stores are unable to stock your favorite foods and products, online retail orders are taking longer to reach your front door with wait times stretching into the weeks and even months, local restaurants and retail stores are cutting back their hours due to being short-staffed. You may be experiencing this as both a local business owner and a consumer.

While these disruptions used to be viewed as temporary inconveniences, economic experts say these supply chain slowdowns and labor shortages are signs that the so-called “Delta Economy” is here for a lot longer than we anticipated. As the Delta variant triggers a spike in COVID-19 infections in the United States and around the world, there’s growing concern that the pandemic will continue to linger through cyclical ebbs and flows that prevent businesses and industries from fully returning to normal operations.

For local businesses eager to bounce back from a difficult 2020 calendar year, the Delta Economy is a potential blow to revenue and sales, and could also send economic morale back into the gutter. But despite the short-term challenges faced by this economic stagnation, forward-thinking businesses are already discovering ways to survive and thrive through creative problem-solving.

If your business is feeling the effects on the Delta Economy, you may need to adjust certain business practices to adapt to these new challenges. With that in mind, here are four tips to foster success in spite of the obstacles facing your local brand.

1. Stock Up On Inventory

Product availability is limited as it is, and restocking your store’s shelves may take longer than you’re anticipating. To account for inventory shortages and slow shipping times, your business may want to consider ordering more up-front than you are accustomed to in the past.

Whether you sell water heaters or holiday gifts, you want to avoid a situation where you’re unable to sell your customers the items they want and need. And, as supplies become more scarce, a well-stocked small business will be in great position to capture sales that otherwise would have gone to their competition.

The need to overstock on inventory may be especially important for businesses targeting holiday shoppers and other seasonal retail windows. The more supply you’re able to maintain, the more opportunities you’ll have to increase your seasonal sales.

2. Build Out Your Selling Network

In response to slow shipping times and limited product availability, consumers are getting more aggressive in exploring under-utilized shopping channels to find products that aren’t available through their traditional channels. This could present an opportunity for small businesses to connect with consumers through nontraditional outlets, such as Poshmark (for retailers), eBay, or other emerging retail apps and secondhand sellers.

This strategy might be particularly useful for new businesses that lack a built-in customer base or local selling network. Follow the trends of how shoppers are trying to get resourceful in the Delta Economy, and try to meet them where they’re headed.

3. Tap Into Consumer Urgency and ‘FOMO’

Businesses know the challenges and limitations created by the Delta Economy. Consumers know this, too—but it doesn’t hurt to make sure they remember to plan ahead.

Limited inventory and long shipping delays can increase consumer anxiety about getting the products they want before they’ve sold out locally. Your ad messaging can leverage these market conditions by being honest to consumers about the risk of waiting on their biggest purchases, especially around the holiday season. While the “fear of missing out” phenomenon didn’t originate in the pandemic, the risk of FOMO definitely applies in the Delta Economy.

4. Start Seasonal Selling Cycles Earlier

Whether it’s the holiday shopping season or planning ahead to Valentine’s Day, Easter or other seasonal retail windows, consumers are likely to start shopping earlier than ever in anticipation of product shortages and limited inventory. By accommodating your customers and starting your own seasonal campaigns earlier than usual, you can capture sales from eager shoppers while also claiming more of this limited inventory for yourself.

The Delta Economy may be yet another hurdle for small businesses to clear, but it also creates new opportunities to build and test innovative, flexible ways of doing business. As you try to balance these operational challenges with your need to grow and retain your customer base, a digital advertising partner can help you craft compelling messaging and campaigns to support your business and your customers through these unpredictable changes.

Find out how Cox Media can help—contact us today to learn more.