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Stock-Outs Lead to Lost Sales for 58% of Shoppers

In-store stock outs, a sure sign of disappointment for expectant consumers, have plagued 75 percent of all U.S. adults in the last year, according to a study conducted by YouGov for GT Nexus, the world’s largest cloud-based network for global trade and supply chain, and 62 percent faced unavailable product online.

And today, unavailable inventory makes for disloyal customers.

Fifty-eight percent of those disappointed in-store shoppers became lost sales, where customers bought from another retailer or didn’t buy at all. Sixty-five percent shoppers finding what they wanted out of stock became lost sales too, with those shoppers either buying product from another online retailer, in stores or not buying at all.

“With this being the age of data and all sorts of technology that helps retailers predict demand and better understand consumers, this is surprisingly high,” said Greg Kefer, VP corporate marketing for GT Nexus.

The survey was conducted to understand how stock-outs impact shopping behavior, and researchers found that a gap exists between consumer expectations and retailers’ ability to fulfill them in both brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

The study also found that 38 percent of shoppers in the U.S. experienced those in-store stock-outs either “often” or “very often,”  while 26 percent experienced online stock-outs often or very often.

Although, 19 percent of online shoppers never found it frustrating that products were unavailable, 18 percent were most frustrated when shoes and apparel products were unavailable.

The survey revealed that, of the roughly 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 33 percent of in-store shoppers blamed the retailer for an unavailable product, 50 percent blamed either the retailer or the manufacturer. 47 percent of online shoppers blamed the retailer or manufacturer as well.

“There is no quicker way to simultaneously diminish brand value, lose customer loyalty, expose consumers to competitive brands, and miss revenue goals than to suffer from stock-outs, especially with the two biggest revenue driving holidays at our fingertips: back-to-school and the holidays,” Kefer said. “And the introduction of omnichannel shopping has created an even tighter strain on fulfillment, resulting in unprecedented levels of out-of-stock inventory.”