Let’s Talk Business: October 7, 2021

“This year, everything is going to take longer, be harder to find, and there’ll be more competition for inventory, employees, customers. Even something as simple as sending out greeting cards to your clients is going to be more challenging this year.” –Rhonda Abrams, in USA Today

Here at the Emporia Chamber, we’re working with the community to help both businesses and customers navigate what promises to be a very unusual holiday season. From supplier shortages to staff shortages, the realities of doing business in 2021 are changing the way savvy businesses operate…and the way savvy customers purchase.

Supplier shortages are becoming the norm, especially from overseas. Right now is the time to search out alternate sources (American suppliers may have more of what you need on a more timely basis) and to engage in some out-of-the-box thinking. If your normal packaging is not available, your will have to be more flexible and adopt a new packaging strategy or method utilizing what IS available in a novel way that suits your business and satisfies your customers.

Here at the Chamber, we are promoting the message: ‘Shop Early—Shop Local: On the shelf means under your tree’. Working together as a community to spread this message is one of those endeavors in which everybody wins. Climb on board.

A successful holiday business season will include at least some of the following steps: enabling online ordering; accepting credit cards; clear communication with customers; offering the best possible customer service; constant marketing; looking for where your customer actually is (with widespread remote work continuing, is your customer at work? at home? at a vacation home?).

And just as we are exhorting customers to ‘Shop Early—Shop Local’, we recommend the same to businesses. Buy from American suppliers whenever possible; the back-up at US ports of entry continues to get even larger. Buy it now. That is, don’t wait to purchase inventory items–or even something as simple as greeting cards to send to your clients: on the supplier shelf means into your inventory.

Adequate staffing and strong customer service are pinch points for many businesses as the worker shortage continues. Offering a living wage and steady, predictable hours can entice qualified potential employees. Understanding economics from your employees’ point of view will go a long way in your ability to attract the best workers.

Marketing is even more vital in 2021–and your marketing needs to take place on multiple platforms (a lesson hard-learned by many in the recent Facebook outage). Print media works. Broadcast media works. Online media, like your own website, works. Social media works. But the key is to utilize all of them, because we really don’t know where or when the next outage or shortage may occur.

Unusual times call for innovative efforts. We continue to research resources and provide the best and most up-to-date information to our Chamber members. ‘Shop Early—Shop Local’: a potent and pertinent message for shoppers and businesses alike.

And let’s all try to remember the ‘reason for the season’ when the going gets rough.

It’s a great day in Emporia!



“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.