High street retailers are losing up to £1bn of sales per month due to poor stock management, as customers leave stores downcast and empty handed as their item or size isn’t available. 

While the high street is facing many difficult challenges, this is something that be solved relatively easily with the help of the internet. 

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Venda, 38% of 2,043 respondents have left stores without making an intended purchase as the item they wanted was unavailable. 

So, let’s look at how stores can address this problem, and save some of those lost sales…

First, the stats…

  • The report reveals that retailers are losing almost £1bn of potential in-store sales every month, and that this is primarily due to poor stock management.
  • 38% of consumers have left stores empty handed within the last month due to items being out of stock, or unavailable in the right size, colour or style. 
  • This equates to a loss of approximately £43 worth of sales every month for each adult in the UK.
  • More than a third (38%) of shoppers would  look for the products they wanted on a retailer’s website if they are not available in bricks and mortar stores.  
  • However, almost half of respondents (48%) said they would turn to competitor websites when they can’t find goods when out shopping.

How can retailers avoid these losses?

Improved stock management is an obvious answer, but there are limits to the quantity of stock that retailers can hold in store, so it’s perhaps more useful to focus on what they can do when items are unavailable. 

42% of consumers confirmed they would still purchase the product from the retailer if a shop assistant was available to check the product availability in stores nearby. Additionally, 44 per cent of women would still make a purchase with the retailer if they had items unavailable in-store ordered on their behalf and delivered to an address of choice.

Order items for the customer

Stores should offer to order items for the customer via this website, with the option of collecting in store or home delivery.

42% of consumers confirmed they would still purchase the product from the retailer if a shop assistant was available to check the product availability in stores nearby.

Additionally, 44% of women would still make a purchase with the retailer if they had the out of stock items ordered on their behalf and delivered to an address of choice.

Refer customers to the website

Of course, not every customer will tell a sales assistant before they leave the store, so prompt them to check the website or contact a member of staff. 

Every high street retailer, no matter how small, should be online, even with the most basic website (or via eBay or Amazon Marketplace).

An ecommerce site or online presence, allows them to sell beyond their immediate area, and while the bricks and mortar store is closed. It also gives them an option when customers can’t find what they want in store. 

A mobile site

Many people will check the website regardless, and often there and then on mobile, so an optimised site will be more convenient to use. 

Thus, the customer may be more likely to order the item online. 

Use in-store kiosks 

34% of respondents said they would use in-store kiosks to purchase items immediately and have them delivered at a date and time of their choice. 

Tesco has trialled these touchscreen kiosks in its stores and, though this kind of shiny new tech is likely to appeal to customers, an iPad, or conveniently placed PC will do the same job. 

Allow customers to check store stock online

Many people like to research online before buying in stores, and allowing them to check in-store stock will save them a wasted journey.

It may also prompt them to order for home delivery or in-store collection if unavailable. 

Not many retailers are doing this, but Argos is a good example: