Coping During Quarantine

Quick Tips to Help Your Online Business Beat the “Out of Stock” Blues

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Photo Credit: American Express

By In Her Shoes Contributor: Uwa Mercy Aghedo

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought world economies to its knees, it has also jolted our society into new realities. Many traditional brick & mortar businesses have faltered due to the pandemic, while on the other hand, many online businesses have began to thrive as a result of this crisis. With this “sudden prosperity” also comes the challenge of supply and demand especially for those independent small online businesses. 

Here are my 5 tips that small online store owners can use to mitigate the challenges of “selling out” of products on their website even during a pandemic:

  1. Offer your customer an incentive to come back to your website and capture their email address. Incentives are great because they entice people to do what you want them to do for you (or your business rather). On top of that, you get to capture their email address; grow your email list and market to your target audience on an ongoing basis. And yes, emailing is still very important to businesses because even though it may seem mundane, it is still an effective and cost efficient way to market to a large group of people at once.
  2. Create a short video about your products, services and brand culture for your customers. Videos humanize your brand. By showing your audiences the time, effort, love and passion that goes into making their beloved products, they will develop even more of an affinity and appreciation for your brand’s products. As a small business, when you create videos, you also get to showcase your own personality and story. Consumers love stories especially ones that provide insight into your products and who you are as a brand. People feel more comfortable buying from people they know or can relate to as oppose to a person or business they know nothing about.
  3. Provide your customers with the opportunity to preorder your product. Introducing a pre-order option on your website is a win-win situation in that you will not only give your customers the opportunity to reserve your products before they are available or “sell out” but you also can guarantee revenue from your business. Having pre orders can also give you a better sense of what the current inventory demands are for your products.
  4. Suggest a similar product as an alternative to the one that has sold out. Although customers may find it frustrating to get “a sold out” message, research shows that 60% of customers that encounter an out-of-stock message on a product page, are still willing to buy something from the same merchant. So, instead of risking no sales at all, suggest an alternative product for your customer to buy.  This will also create a better experience for them.
  5. Be consistent in communicating changes on all your owned media channels about your inventory. Any inventory changes that occur within your business which will affect the experiences customers may have on your website should be communicated on all your media touch points such as your website, blog and social media channels consistently; especially if the replenishment of the inventory will take longer to fulfill/restock.  Like any relationship, communication is important because it helps with building and establishing trust. For instance at the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic, many online stores posted messages on their website letting customers know there would be a delay in shipping due to the pandemic. With this, many customers knew what to expect upon purchasing.

This pandemic has no doubt exerted unforeseen pressures on small businesses; mainly in the areas of inventory and pricing.  My hope for the small online businesses that are thriving right now is that as we slowly come out of this crisis, they will not only have increased their revenue but more importantly, they will have also sustained a loyal customer base, as a result of providing long term value for their newly acquired customers.  In order for t his to happen, they must create the best experiences for the customer because these days, it’s not enough to just sell stuff to people; we also need to sell them experiences.

To learn more about Uwa Mercy Aghedo visit uwastake.com  You can also follow Uwa’s journey as a digital marketing strategist on Instagram at @muaghedo.

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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