The out of stock and expectation dilemma.
Imagine a person planning to buy their favourite headphones with their first salary. As soon as that hard earned cash lands into their bank account they jump online, visit your website and they’re excited to see the product in stock. But wait, when they actually click on the option to buy from their preferred retailer the item is out of stock. Imagine the disappointment in their face.
Brands only get one chance to make that first impression, and this needs to be one of enjoyment rather than of disappointment. Brands invest millions to capture consumer attention. Losing that customer once they finally decide to purchase your products can have a huge impact on sales and the customer mindset, all due to the wrong stock information being displayed.
So how big is the problem?
According to a recent research conducted by Daniel Corsten and Thomas Gruen based on six categories of non-food supermarket products, around 19.9% of the products globally are unavailable to purchase. Out of this 8.1% are out of stock and 11.8% are void. This is due to retailers suppressing web pages for products that are out of stock.
When you break it down and compare this research across major markets, US and UK retailers show to be better at displaying the correct out of stock information. They have are average on void links. Chinese retailers ranked as being the worst in terms of both out of stocks and voids.
Out of stock can have large consequences if not proactively dealt with. The most logical being customers switching brands and moving to a similar competitor product or switching to a lower value or smaller size item. Or maybe not buying the product at all.
While Inventory management is a different area altogether. Brands are already investing in building their own supply chain or working with third party retailers to ensure correct stock levels are linked to the online store. In the digital world, providing the right consumer experience is vital to keeping the consumer happy.
Out of stock information can be a hard one to control especially if you are talking about bricks and mortar stores. To overcome this, brands need to have a dynamic out of stock strategy in place. However if selling online via Direct To Consumer (DTC) or DTC and Marketplace this can be an easier hurdle to overcome. And, once done you can quickly earn consumer trust and ensure a good user experience is in place.
“Out of stock for you is in stock for someone else.”
Setting the right expectation with a clear ‘In Stock’ message.
How to tackle ‘Out of Stock’ information and set the right expectations:
1. Have a Buy Now solution in place that works
An advanced Buy Now Solution will allow you to dynamically capture the information on partner retailer websites and display real time inventory stock levels. The same dynamic aspect can be applied to out of stock info, with some options being:
- Not showing the Retailer when the SKU is out of stock.
- Showing an alternative but relevant SKU, other product colour variant/pack size, until original product is back in stock.
- Proving a clear message on when the product is expected to come into stock.
- If you have DTC and retailer options on your website, a sophisticated Buy Now solution will be able to actively promote your DTC when the product goes out of stock on retailers site.
2. Ensuring you drive traffic to product pages where clear Buy Now options are in place
To provide a good experience for consumers it’s key to drive them to the same product pages that link to the Buy Now button on the website. You need to ensure consumers land on the product page rather than a search or query page to eliminate the possibility of consumers being distracted by other products along their path to purchase. This will also ensure that the consumer won’t have to restart their product search process once they land on a retailer site.
Structured path to purchase
In the consumer journey providing correct stock information and clear Where to Buy options are minimum if you want to provide a good consumer experience. As a brand you have a lot more to gain than lose, once you’ve mastered this and set correct expectations from the start.