How to use supply chain issues to your advantage

As shortages hit the headlines again, affiliates and advertisers have an opportunity to fight back by offering alternative supply routes.

How to use supply chain issues to your advantage

Scanning for dead and out-of-stock links can help brands and agencies keep the customer satisfied even when conditions are tricky, says Jaime Singson, Senior Product and Content Marketing Director,…

If you're shopping online right now, one in every 50 pages you visit will likely show an out-of-stock message. That’s what Adobe Analytics discovered in research conducted for a report released November 9. According to the report, more than 2billion instances across 18 categories of products were listed as out of stock online. That's up 33 percent from last October and 325 percent since October 2019. 

That staggering jump shows the extent of the supply chain issues facing businesses during the very weird moment of economic history we’re living through. But, these issues occur even when supply chains aren’t a mess. 

In April of this year, long before supply chains dominated the news, conducted an analysis of affiliate links among industry-relevant publishers for a major shoe retailer. The analysis showed that more than 50 links on relevant publications led to error pages and more than 50 links led to out-of-stock products across just 11 publishers they worked with. The wasted opportunity brought about by recommendations to out-of-stock products pre-dates today’s logistics crisis, but these supply chain issues have certainly exacerbated it. 

Supply chain causes problems downstream

The effects on referral partnerships, both for the referrer and the brand, can be significant:

  • Publishers earn less when they post affiliate links to a product page that's out-of-stock due to the supply chain disruptions. Each link that can’t lead to a conversion represents a missed opportunity for them to earn their commission.

  • Brands and agencies don’t get the full benefit of the partnership when publishers link to out-of-stock items on their site. Any customer following that link is likely to bounce to a competitor or may simply forego their shopping journey in frustration – a loss for the brand, publisher and consumer.

Amid the chaos, you’ll find an opportunity 

Supply chain issues don’t affect everyone equally. Products that may be out-of-stock for a competitor could be sitting in your inventory. With link scanning tools like those available on Trackonomics by, brands can: 

  • Scan their partners’ website for links leading to out-of-stock products within their e-commerce site 

  • Scan for their competitors’ links leading to out-of-stock products on their competitors’ e-commerce website

  • Offer the partner a better commission to redirect the link to their site 

This capability would draw new customers and help grow your share-of-voice on commerce content sites.

When brands proactively deal with out-of-stock issues, they win by filling consumer demand that their competitors can’t fulfil. Publishers win by earning a higher commission on a link that would otherwise be earning them nothing. Perhaps most importantly, consumers win by getting the products they’re looking for, rather than a frustrating error page or out-of-stock message.

With this strategy, brands can even take traffic from the biggest players in retail. If they can’t meet consumer demand, why shouldn’t you? Brands should proactively scan for their competitors’ broken links or links to out-of-stock pages, reach out to their commerce content contacts among their publisher partners, and suggest swapping affiliate links to point to their in-stock products. Publishers will love these proactive actions since they avoid wasting an opportunity and frustrating their readers.  

On top of that, brands can use link scanners for hunting down the dead and out-of-stock affiliate links pointing to their website and take steps to protect themselves from losing opportunities. Rather than seeing customers leave the page in disappointment, recommending similar items may keep the customer satisfied and shopping on your page. 

Supply chain disruption may be around a while longer as the knots get worked out of a recovering economy. Still, smart strategies combined with the right technology can help you connect consumers with the products they need.

By Jaime Singson

Senior Product and Content Marketing Director

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