We’ve all been there - you find a product you fall in love with and want to buy, only to discover it’s out of stock. It’s a common occurrence that’s frustrating for both consumer and retailer.
However, as a retailer, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean losing potential sales and customers. Here are a few ways to convert these willing visitors into sales…
One of the most common solutions to this problem is to prompt the visitor to enter their email address, so they’re contacted when the product they want is back in stock.
Think about it - if you were shopping on the high street and couldn’t find the product you wanted or couldn’t find it in your size, you’d ask the shop assistants when it would become available. It should be no different online, and if the user is opting in to be contacted when the product comes back in stock, they have a real intent to purchase and are likely to be converted when emailed. This option gives the retailer the chance to increase their customer database with people who’ve already shown they have an interest in their product.
Once a visitor is added to a mailing list, communication is hugely important. Not only should these potential customers be emailed once their desired product is back in stock, but automated emails should be sent out immediately after sign-up, thanking customers for their interest and letting them know they will be alerted as soon as the product they’re after is available. If they are made to feel valued and important to the retailer, they’ll be more likely to purchase.
Suggested Product Alternatives
This is a system more catered towards ‘window shoppers’ who are browsing the site but not looking for a specific product. Instead, they have a vague idea of what sort of product they want, or their eye has been caught by the product they landed on.
Although this isn’t in stock, there may be other, similar products the customers would be interested in. Algorithms are used in order to work this out and show relevant products, for example: “Customers who bought X also bought Y”.
This is another good chance to convert a customer, as well as show an understanding of their needs and desires. This model could also be applied to the emails for those who opted into the mailing list outlined above, e.g. “We’ll let you know as soon as this product is back in stock, but in the meantime, you might enjoy these…”.
Pre-Order If you have the capabilities and procedures in place to offer pre-ordering, it’s a no-brainer - especially if you know you’ll be restocking soon. This option allows the retailer to ensure the purchase will be made by the customer as soon as the product becomes available.
Communication is important here too, as customers who place a pre-order will expect to be thanked for their patience and custom along with being provided a specific date or time frame for when they will receive their order, and any updates about their purchase. A word of warning though - if this system is implemented, the retailer must ensure that they don’t underestimate demand for the product, and are able to fulfill all pre-orders.
In a nutshell, being out of stock is never ideal, but this doesn’t have to mean losing sales and revenue. Instead, it can be used as an opportunity to link-sell between products, build on communication with customers, give them a personalised experience and ensure they have a positive perception of your brand.
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