Getting Creative Around Inventory Issues

In headlines and in conversations with clients, we are hearing about supply chain disruptions that are making fall and holiday planning challenging. Photography for direct mail needs to take place soon and knowing what to show what will be in stock and getting samples to shoot is proving to be problematic for some brands.

While having a ship stuck sideways in the Suez Canal and fewer international passenger planes carrying goods in extra cargo space are unique to our times, knowing what products to drive consumer demand due to inventory challenges is not new. Back in the day, brands that wanted to inform consumers of clearance sales, sample sales or end of season sales had a vague idea at best of what product would be in stock at the time of the event, and thus no concrete idea of what to show in marketing materials when the creative deadline clock struck “due now”.  But there were workarounds that worked back then that can inspire solutions now.

Case in point, three oldies but goodies below: A Macy’s swimwear sale, Barney’s storewide sale and Bloomingdale’s shoe sale. None of the pages show or sell specific styles but the product messages are strong and cleverly communicated.

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More recently, when One King’s Lane launched into direct mail in 2013, the business was built around online sales that took place every morning at 11am ET. The brand didn’t even know what they would be featuring in the sales until just a few days prior, let alone weeks prior in order to feature the items in direct mail. The One King’s Lane solution: show and sell bestselling, high-stock evergreen items in the catalog and include strong messaging to the daily event.

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Today’s direct mail is not a multi-page sell-sheet. Its role is to tease, generate interest and drive the consumer online or to the store down the street to shop. The direct mail piece could inspire the consumer to purchase exactly what was shown. But often, 30% more often in fact, consumers buy products that are different from those featured in the direct mail piece. 


Best case scenario for fall and holiday direct mail: show and sell what you know will be in stock. But feel comfortable in getting creative with alternative portrayals and messaging about products that may be skidding in a little later than the in-home date.

Care to brainstorm specific creative plan Bs for your brand? Connect with us!

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