Why supply chain issues are fostering a retail marketing evolution

Many brands are becoming more of a subscription service than anything else as their relationship to retailers fragments. To make sales at scale now requires a more retail-agnostic approach…

Gavin Stirrat, CEO, Adimo, chronicles the emergence of a retail marketing evolution that’s quietly happening amid global and national supply chain woes. 


There is a fundamental need for brands and retailers to redefine the status quo.  Until now, customers have counted on brands and retailers to offer essential goods and services. This reliance has left shoppers solely dependent on their chosen vendors to secure access to the products they both need and prefer. With many items seemingly vanishing from shelves during the pandemic, it’s no wonder both these entities are beginning to recognise the necessity for a much-needed shift. 


With the introduction of both internet and mobile commerce seeing a significant increase in transaction fluidity, the existing notion of what it means to be both retail and brand loyal has become more unstable than previously seen. Coupled with these challenges, customers access to securing much needed items has only intensified. Due to the growing uncertainty in the world, a report from McKinsey found 63% of customers shifted their brand preference in the UK. With advocacy becoming increasingly challenging for brands to win and retain, it’s positive to note the emergence of new opportunities which will revive relationships, and create new loyal ones online. This is a welcome prospect, especially as we face a crucial period of global supply chain issues, a global cost of living crisis and the expectation that pandemic challenges will be a recurring part of our future.

With this in mind, there are key factors brands and marketers need to consider, to provide benefits to consumers, while helping encourage recurring brand touchpoints.  

Digital Transformation Leads to Retailer Agnostic Approaches 

The pandemic saw many brands across industries forced to face digital transformation head on.  Together with this, brands continue to face supply chain issues which are driving this trend, especially in terms of delivering needed goods via conventional sales channels.  

The pressure to ensure access to goods and services means brands need to recognise new strategies to maintain customer attention, whilst employing new tactics to deliver them. We’ve seen marketers intensifying digital campaigns, as well as showcasing the efforts brands are making to provide new supplies to customers. With a significant surge in demand, Kellogg’s reported the efforts they embarked on to ensure their supply chain and resource partners evolved. Having mentioned advances in automation to ensure consumer demands were met, they also detailed how staff went the extra mile to ensure this was done as swiftly and seamlessly as possible. 

It’s no wonder the industry perspective sees new approaches rise to the surface  --  where brands lean toward a more retailer agnostic approach. This doesn’t mean brands should necessarily deconstruct existing retail partnerships, rather, employ a fresh view of consumerism through the lens of innovation and a keen eye on modernity. When it comes to most aspects of life, consumers are accustomed to efficient and frictionless engagements, and this should be no different when considering the retail experience. This is key for brands and marketers to consider, meaning digital efforts should be further simplified. 

This example is evident in many recipe offerings online where FMCG and food brands present new and inspirational ways to utilise their products. With shoppable media, these recipes are commercialised as brands provide a seamless path for consumers to add all ingredients directly to their shopping basket. Here, brands will be able to offer solutions to the ongoing challenges experienced within their supply chain, by suggesting an alternative location to purchase items, and providing guidance on the most suitable alternative from their product offering. 

These new approaches illustrate how brands can take an active role in assisting customers complete their shopping effectively with an efficient presence on the entire path to purchase. 

This is positive news, especially when considering additional ways in which to offer benefits to customers in conjunction with reinforcing the brand overall. 

Signing up to a Subscription Service World 

Another factor which is apparent is the extensive shopper appreciation for subscription-based offerings. A recent report from eMarketer detailed how subscription ecommerce notability grew 41.0% through 2020 and 3.0% of US retail ecommerce sales equate to $27.67 billion from subscriptions in 2021, meaning up to a 10 billion increase from two years ago. With the world returning to normality its predicated that, despite this, there will be an increase in the overall dependence on and usage of subscription services. 

This subscription business model unites effortlessly with a brand’s core functionality and provides value that a traditional supply chain lacks. Brand marketers should take full advantage. Providing more than a solution, subscriptions connect customers directly with brands, generate valuable first-party data, and support brand advocacy. This improves forecasting and offers brands the opportunity to cross-sell their products from their entire FMCG range. This is why PepsiCo initiated PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, and Heinz UK decided to launch ‘Heinz to Home’ in 2020. The same is true for P&G who announced the expansion of their DTC presence as a result of ecommerce sales raising to 50 percent in Q3 2020. 

With these insights in mind, it’s essential for brands and brand marketers to recognise trends and capitalise on implementing strategies to reinforce a frictionless path-to-purchase for consumers. This will not only encourage a newfound connection with customers that delivers on brand advocacy, but creates opportunities to engage with relevant and preferred audiences too. 

By Gavin Stirrat