If you have purchased gas, lumber, or even a pair of shoes recently, you know that these once commonplace products have become hot commodities. And as demand for these hard-to-get products rise, marketers struggle to keep customers around long enough for the shelves to restock. After ODEA’s weekly status meeting turned to a discussion on supply chains and a general lack of production, we decided to suit up and dive deeper. Keep on reading for our findings on the causation of these recent stock-outs, and how you can keep your loyal customers around as a marketer even when the shelves are empty!
What Got the Ball Rolling?
While the country continues to undergo recovery from COVID, supply chains are struggling to meet expectations on a global scale. The pandemic is sparking demand for niche products and in random market segments, causing shortages in these areas. The issue that follows is once demand rises and these products sell out, the supply chains are unable to keep things running smoothly. Retailers rely on these distributors to meet demand, and with all the recent disruptions, stockouts are lasting longer than normal.
Before the pandemic, it would have been considered unnecessary for companies to keep “just in case” inventory. What if it didn’t sell? Why would you buy more than the company has historically sold each month before? Now, companies are rethinking that strategy.
Out of Stock, Full of Ideas
Your company may have built up a loyal customer base pre-pandemic, but shortages and stockouts have caused those loyal customers to stray. When faced with an empty shelf and a fierce need, customers are finding other brands that have the same desired product in stock. Don’t take it personally.
While we may not be able to control global supply chains, one thing we can work on is creating an excellent customer experience, especially in times like these. Keep reading for ODEA’s best tips on making the best out of a stockless situation!
Make Yourself Available
We can all agree that the limited availability of so many products is frustrating, especially for customers who don’t have the behind-the-scenes insight from retailers and supply chains. Making sure your team is available and ready with answers is essential to giving your customers a little bit of comfort. Whether this looks like adding live chat to your site or adding an extra set of hands to the customer service team, your company should be prepared to have its customers’ backs and the answers they’re looking for, whenever they’re looking for them.
Let Your Brand Values Shine
A customer reaches out about a product but the only answer you have for them is that the product is out of stock and you don’t have a clear answer on when it will be available. Total bummer, right? Wrong. Turn this into an opportunity to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re committed to giving them an amazing customer experience, and this is your chance to prove it! Could you help them locate the product somewhere else? Does your brand have a similar product that could meet their needs? Or do you know a competitor that might have a similar product? Let them know about it! Hear us out, if you go with the last option, you’re not driving away a potential customer. Think of it as you reminding your customer why they love your brand so much!
These moments matter in the long-run and when the shelves are full again, your customers will remember just how amazing you and your brand are.
Keep Them in The Know
Before customers visit your website or come in to find your store devoid of their desired products, use your email list to notify them of any shortages your company may be experiencing. If there is an anticipated date for stock arrival, let them know with the caveat that the date is an estimate. Customers will appreciate the heads up.
Let’s take it a step further. Have you ever attempted to check out on a website only to find out a product is out of stock after it’s in your cart? Not cool. Let customers know how many items are left in stock starting from 10 items. This way, if they are on the fence about purchasing an item they need, your alert might just save them them a little trouble and a lot of frustration! Once items are fully out of stock, make sure to create a space for customers to sign up for alerts once the product is back on shelves or your site! Not only does this help customers feel a bit more in control of their circumstances, but it will help you give priority to the loyal customers who chose to wait for your business to get the product back in stock.
Bonus: Include a promotion that can be applied to the product they’re waiting on or another product you offer as a “thank you” for their commitment to your brand. It’s just one more bullet point they can add to their “Why I Love This Brand!” list. 😊
We’re all crossing our fingers that supply chains return to their normal state just as much as you do. In the meantime, we hope these tips will prove useful at keeping your customers happy.
Got any additional tips on how to improve your customers’ experience during stockouts? We’d love to hear from you! Give us all the details at [email protected].