Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

Is Your e-Commerce Business Doing the Most Important Thing that Customers Demand?

On today’s e-commerce landscape, meeting customer demand — or better yet, exceeding them — is more important than ever. Indeed, competition is relentless and expectations keep rising. The battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of target audiences rages on, and to the victors go the spoils. Everyone else, sooner or later, gets pushed down out and out of the marketplace. It’s kind of Darwin-meets-e-Commerce scenario.

e-Commerce Business

Obviously, there are many ways that e-commerce businesses can (read: must) make a positive impression on customers, including offering ample product selection, competitive prices, excellent customer service, great UX and overall site usability, and of course, a seamless end-to-end omnichannel experience. These are essential components of the profitable e-commerce puzzle.

However, there’s one other aspect that, surprisingly, many e-commerce businesses overlook or simply neglect, even though in the minds of many customers it’s nothing less than the most important and influential factor on their list: in-stock availability.

Indeed, it sounds almost too “low tech” to be such a vitally important factor, but when you step back a moment and think about this, it makes perfect sense — because ultimately, it doesn’t matter how nice a site looks, how fast it loads, how competitive the prices are, and even how reputable the company is, if the products that customers want to be are regularly out-of-stock.

Unless they have no other choice — which is rarely the case — customers will back up their virtual car and head to another site (or perhaps even a brick-and-mortar) store and get what they need. What’s more, they’ll typically blacklist the offending site, and warn others against experiencing the same frustration.

The solution to this critical problem is to develop an inventory management system that makes out-of-stock the rare exception, instead of the common norm. For example, the system should alert procurement or warehouse managers when stock levels reach a certain threshold, seasonal or promotion-driven demand spikes should be anticipated, returns must be managed effectively, and there should be a constant analysis of what gets ordered from suppliers vs. what is delivered.

An excellent example of how to do this the right way is aircraft parts company AERO In Stock, which as you can see, actually puts the words “in stock” in its brand name to emphasize how committed they are to having sufficient inventory — because it really does make that big of a difference between thriving in a competitive customer-centric marketplace, or struggling to survive.