In the bustling world of retail, there's nothing more disheartening for customers than walking in with high hopes of buying the perfect product, only to discover they’re out of it. For retailers, this scenario represents a missed opportunity that can have far-reaching consequences.
Stock availability is the art of ensuring every product is readily available on the shelf and can make or break a business. It’s beyond mere numbers and supply chain management; it’s the lifeline that connects businesses with their customers and shapes their brand perception. Here, we’ll explore the significance of stock availability and why it must be a top priority for retailers.
What is stock availability?
Stock availability in retail stores refers to the number of products or items currently in stock and ready for purchase by customers. It's not just about how many items there are, but also which items, sizes, colors, variations, and so on to ensure that when clients search for something, it will be there for them.
Unlike stock accuracy where we make sure we have the right number according to our calculated expectation, stock availability’s target is having a full variety of products based on expected demand.
Why does stock availability matter?
Keeping adequate stock levels ensures uninterrupted operations, timely order fulfillment, and the ability to meet customer demands. It leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a positive brand reputation. For consumers, stock availability means access to products when needed, reducing frustration, and enhancing convenience.
A customer who cannot find the product he needs will leave the store disappointed. This means that not having stock available in-store results in a negative experience. It’s also very important to keep in mind that for some people size can be emotional as well. If a person comes to your store and sees an item they like, but their size isn’t available, they may feel unwelcomed and uncared for.
Sales and revenue
You can’t sell what you don’t have. Not having your full stock available at all locations prevents you from closing deals and making sales. This is especially true for your top-selling items. If you have items that customers want sitting in your warehouses while missing from the shelves, you are losing sales.
Customer loyalty and competition
Customer loyalty is built on trust. If clients trust you can deliver what they need whenever they need or want it, they will keep coming back. And the next time they will need something, they will keep your brand in mind.
However, if they come to your store in search of something and leave disappointed, they will go straight to your competitors. And the next time they will want something, they may consider them before you. Therefore, you must be on top of your availability to stay ahead of your competitors and secure future sales.
Reputation and brand image
When a brand does not have available stock, interested customers cannot complete the purchase. And if all available stock are outdated leftovers, they will be overly disappointed.. This doesn’t only miss a sale, but it creates poor brand impression. Since nothing is stronger than word-of-mouth, those unhappy clients will make sure to tell their friends and family about their negative experience and further diminish your brand value.
How to improve stock availability?
Retailers can improve stock availability in stores by implementing several strategies.
Firstly, utilizing the power of technologies such as RFID to help with accurate stock monitoring, reducing out-of-stock and overstock instances, while keeping track of all assets within the supply chain.
Secondly, they can adopt advanced inventory management systems that utilize real-time data to track product demand and sales patterns. This enables them to forecast demand accurately and maintain optimal stock levels.
Thirdly, using planograms, where retailers can ensure not only they have the stock but also allow for safety stock per location and its unique selling patterns. That way businesses can make sure they always have what they need in hand.
Lastly, training staff to be mindful of their availability. Teach them the importance of availability and make sure they keep an eye out that they have the full range of sizes and colors available on the sales floor and make note otherwise.
In conclusion, stock availability is something retailers must prioritize to ensure the success and growth of their business. Maintaining adequate stock levels leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a positive brand reputation. When customers can easily find the products they need, it enhances their shopping experience and builds trust in the brand. On the other hand, stockouts can result in disappointed customers who may turn to competitors, damaging the retailer's reputation and losing potential sales.
To improve stock availability, retailers can leverage technology, implement advanced inventory management systems, use planograms effectively, and train their staff to be mindful of availability. By taking these steps, retailers can keep their shelves well-stocked, meet customer demands, and stay ahead in a competitive market