Your Out-of-Stock Problem Runs Deeper Than an Empty Shelf

By Brian Harris

In your common retail “nightmare,” customers come into your store looking for a hot product, and you don’t have it. They walk out and you lose the sale. That’s the most basic definition of an out-of-stock. But the reality is that the out-of-stock problem runs much deeper than lack of product.

Out-of-stocks can occur for numerous reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Inventory reporting inaccuracies – a mismatch between basic supply and demand
  • Customer can’t find the right item – a planogram compliance issue
  • Customer can’t find the in-store promotional item – lack of product or lack of communication about product placement/materials
  • Poor customer service – inadequate staffing or lack of customer service knowledge

In other words, if the customer is not leaving with a purchase, it’s the equivalent of an out-of-stock.

How to Eliminate Out-of-Stocks

Retail out-of-stocks are not a new phenomenon. They’re an age-old industry problem that cost billions of dollars in lost sales every year, detract from customer satisfaction, and inflict costly damage on brands. But what has changed is the retailer’s ability to do something about out-of-stocks.

All of the previously mentioned scenarios have something important in common: They can be prevented with timely and accurate information, otherwise known as actionable insights.

Monitor Your Retail Programs

New merchandise programs take time and energy to roll out. Don’t let the effort of your planning go to waste. Checking for compliance throughout your network ensures that you’ve optimized store conditions, your employees are knowledgeable about the new product, and you’ve addressed any issues that may arise in the stores.

  • Verify planogram compliance to ensure products are placed correctly on the shelf and in the store.
  • Verify in-store displays and signage with a photo.
  • Verify compliance by region and individual location.

Now, do something with the information you’ve collected. More importantly, do something that goes beyond email or phone calls. In real time, you’ll be able to view important metrics concerning the product rollout. Have managers check in once the product hits stores and ask them to share a photo to verify the display.

Basically, don’t just say a prayer and hope that each store got it right. When you have the ability to pop into your stores from anywhere, you’re bound to see greater returns.

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