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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : July 09, 2007

Online shoppers don't forgive "out of stock" items

Many e-tailers are losing out on sales because items are out of stock. According to a recent study, if a user is turned away from an online store only three times, they likely will not return.

by Kristina Knight

The Online Inventory Impact Study was conducted in May as a joint venture between the e-tailing group and BetweenMarkets. They surveyed nearly 1,000 online shoppers who spend more than $500 per year online and shop online at least four times per year.

What they found is quite surprising. In roughly 50% of online shopping experiences, users were notified that the products they were ordering were out of stock, 48% said they have received out of stock notices after placing an order and 62% replied that after clicking on an email ad they received out of stock notices.

In more than half of these cases, the users abandoned their shopping carts and went to competitor sites to order the products they wanted.

While many items will simply be sold out, it is a cardinal rule of advertising that the products advertised be available to the consumer. By sending out email marketing ads and not having enough of the product, e-tailers are sending a bad message to their clientele.

What was most frustrating for users, though, was not having the in-stock information right away. E-tailers can counteract this by simply upgrading their product availability status and giving users real-time notification of whether a product is available and ready to ship. Consumers will still be upset that their products aren't in-stock but at least they aren't angry about wasted shopping time.

Tags: e-tailing, online revenue, online shopping

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