Dealing With Empty Stock Without Disappointing the Customer

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

You’ve lost a customer’s trust by not having a product in stock. How can you recover? Although it will take additional effort on your part, a customer can almost always be retained through quality customer service. Find out how to gain a customer’s trust back after an inventory shortage.

Suggest Alternative Products

In an effort to appease your customer’s needs, search for an alternative. Suggest different products than the one they were looking for – especially if the goods are similar. Before suggesting any specific alternative, take the time to understand what your customer wants and needs. This is a great potential opportunity to sell an inventory item that may be overstocked but still in great quality. By getting to the root of what they are searching for, you may find your customer was pursuing the incorrect product all along. Find out why your customer wanted the item that is out of stock, and see if there is a potentially better fit.

Offer a Price Incentive

If your customer can’t or won’t budge on the item, begin exploring ways to retain the sale by incorporating a sweetener or an incentive. The most logical place to start relates to the price – is there any chance you can reduce the price to still commit the customer? In essence, the reduction in price is cost of locking in the sale. Other incentives could include free shipping or a free upgrade to expedited shipping if receipt of the product is time-sensitive. It is important to understand the reason for entering into this agreement; a pricing incentive should only be used to preserve a customer’s sale. Use discretion and consider the potential implications of issuing favorable prices to certain customers.

Create a Communication Channel

If the customer is set on the product you are currently not carrying, do you have a plan in place to notify them when you do? Having a strong communication channel with your customers is a great way to enhance your business success, regardless of your inventory levels. However, it is a convenient way to let your customers know when items are back in stock. These notifications can be personalized to each customer based on the items. In addition, you can personally follow up with customers seeking a specific product by contacting them directly. Although you run the risk of declining a future sale or delaying a back order, consider holding a high-demand item for a customer you’ve contacted to ensure you have the item on hand when they return.

Benefits of Customer Service

The responsibility of maintaining proper inventory levels falls on the shoulders of a business owner. When this is not upheld, customers lose faith in the business. Customer service and how you approach your customers in these situations are paramount in retaining their business. By rectifying the situation and getting the customer what they want, they are more likely to return for future business, purchase alternative goods (if those were recommended), and have faith that if you don’t have something in stock, their needs will still be met.

References & Resources

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