Discovering an item is ‘out of stock’ remains one of the biggest frustrations for online shoppers. 

For retailers, the consequences can be much more serious than missed sales. Poorly communicated stock levels can not only damage revenue, but can also impact long-term relationships with customers, and even reduce brand loyalty.

A 2020 McKinsey survey found that, out of the 34% of consumers who have shopped with a new brand, retailer, or website since the pandemic, 29% cite product availability as the reason they have done so.

Stock-outs are not always avoidable, of course. Aside from the pandemic, which resulted in a spike in consumer demand for some online retailers, there are many other reasons why retailers might find themselves without adequate stock, such as misjudged forecasting and unforeseen shipping issues.

What retailers can control, however, is the customer experience around the product, which can help to determine whether or not a customer returns again in future - despite missing out in the moment. Crucial to delivering this experience is inventory management, which enables retailers to track and manage items through various stages along the supply chain. ERP systems can also enhance real-time inventory management by ensuring communication and transparency with other areas of the business, as well as data-driven analysis and forecasting.

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