How Retailers Can Reverse An Out Of Stock Situation

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Out of stock inventory is one of the main reasons of damage in retailer’s cash flow. It can cause up to $93 billion loss in sales every year. This common and unpleasant situation affects negatively not just the sale but also the customer-brand relationship.

Indeed it has been recently discovered that 25% of consumers abandon the online shopping cart because of an out of stock situation. Even higher is the frequency of leaving an online shop when an OOS alert is shown before customers have the chance to add other items to the basket. The worse situation then occurs when the customers are advised about the lack of products just after the purchase.

This result in an immediate loss in sales and it also sensibly reduces the satisfaction of consumers, pushing them moving toward competition and spreading a negative word of mouth about the firm.

How can online retailer deal with this problem avoid losing customers and market share?

Below, we propose few effective solutions to improve the OOS issue. This will help you reversing this problem, taking advantage from a negative situation and turn it into a positive experience.

Notify your consumer in time

If seeing the OOS red sign is annoying, not to be notified in time about it, is even more frustrating. Receiving the communication that the item is terminated after the order, the purchase and having inserted all your data would probably irritate the customers to the point to not coming back buying from you anymore. Prevent it installing an OOS display on your website.

Do not let customers begin OOS purchase

In order to avoid customer’s frustration, your online store could simply not allow users to see items that are out of stock. In this way, buyers would not even start the purchase. You will avoid complaints, wasting of time and money necessary to make up with disappointed clients.


If the damage is already done, the first thing to do is being sorry with your client and apologise for the inconvenience. After all, the mistake is yours. Show them that you are willing to make up for your inventory shortage and follow up with one of the next solutions.

Provide a reason

Be transparent and explain your customer why the item is OOS. Whether the manufacturer run out of product of it has been occurred in a processing error, the user will appreciate your honesty.

Offer an alternative

If a product is out of stock propose to your customer a tailored recommendation in line with their profile. In this way, it is possible not only terminating a sale but also inciting customer to explore other products in your store. Offering an alternative suggestion can increase sales up to 30%.
It may happen that the products you suggest are more expensive than the one chosen in first place by the user. In this case you should offer your client a discount. This will increase the chance of purchase as well as the customer satisfaction.

Email customers

Researches show that people forget 40% of what they have learned after the first 20 minutes. How many people do you think will come back to your website if they did not actually purchase any item and if they do not have heard from you after the shopping failure? Ask your customers the permission to send them “back in stock notifications” emails. In this way the chance of buying the item when it will be available again rise. Moreover, if the user is not register to the website yet, this is a smart way to obtain the email address.

Propose in store deals

If you are a large dimension retailer and if you have the chance to distribute your products via other channels, you can suggest customers to buy the item in the closest offline store. Stimulate their action with coupon discounts and personalised offers.

Provide information

Allow your possible buyer to get in touch with the customer service team in case they want to present complaints. Communicate contact details including phone, email, and social as well as hour of availability.

To summarise, reaching the point of purchase and being disappointed because of the lack of organization of online stores is something that happen too often. Online retailers should try to avoid this condition as much as possible.
But if is too late and sellers have already shown or sold an item which is not longer available, the above tips can limit the damage.
The OOS issue, if handled in the right way, can be turned into opportunity. Online retailers should exploit this negative situation to increase the visitors’ loyalty, rewarding them with gifts and tailored promotions. The important part is to avoid losing customers. But if clients are stimulated to buy alternative product or even to give personal data, retailers actually win the game.

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