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Retailers: How do I know you *really* have it?

Yesterday we talked about a retail experience that could have been better – mostly by doing something to encourage a customer to call you next time.

Did you notice the cost of yesterday’s suggestion? ZERO.

Today, we’ll talk about an experience related to yesterday’s story: Stock levels.

When you go to the websites of most retail stores these days, you can see stock level information. In some cases, you’ll see it for each store location.

In most of the big chain stores, this information is as close to real time as you can expect – in other words, if you check the website from your car and it says that 52″ Sony you have your eye on is the last one in stock, the chances that it’s still in the store are very good.

It might be in someone’s cart, but it should still be in the store.

In stock…maybe

When you start working with local and regional retailers, the information quality tends to go downhill a bit.

What I see is a combination of these things:

  • “Call for stock info” (or a similar message)
  • “Item in stock”
  • “23 in stock”

The unfortunate reality of this is that none of this info is accurate.

If you’re going to have this stuff on your site – make it accurate, even if it has to say “Item in stock as of month, day, year” or “stock status updated every Friday”.

The alternative is having in-stock inventory info on your site, which your customer believes. In some cases, they make plans based on that info.

And then they find out that the info really means across your entire retail system as of a week ago, not of their local store. And even that might not be accurate.

If you don’t have the systems in place to keep this info accurate, ask them to contact you instead of relaying poor quality (inaccurate, outdated) information.

If you can get the info on your site up to date (and many of you probably can), then make it accurate to within an hour, or 5 minutes or real time – but state the accuracy for your customer’s convenience.

Remember, if people can’t trust your site…they’ll stop coming to it.

2 replies on “Retailers: How do I know you *really* have it?”

This is absolutely true. I used to work for an online retailer that did not show stock information, so items were currently sold even if they were not in stock. This resulted in the customers having to wait for new stock to arrive and it was sometimes a great inconvenience for them. The company didn’t really have a good way of updating the inventory information anywhere close to real-time, so they had to deal with the fact that customers were leaving them daily due to a decreased trust in the site’s dependability.

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