28 Mar Lost Sales in ECommerce: Tips to Avoid Them
In eCommerce, stock issues and supply chain disruptions can lead to lost sales. In 2021, 30% of Amazon sellers reported over $10,000 in lost sales due to supply chain disruption. While some of the drivers behind lost sales can’t be mitigated, others can be foreseen and addressed through planning and use of the right tools.
Of course, lost revenue isn’t the only consequence of lost sales in e-commerce. Frequent OOS items generate a poor reputation in your market, and can negatively impact online reviews. Recent research found that 75% of Americans are looking for positive reviews before they buy a product.
While positive reviews are great for sellers, negative reviews have the potential to go viral, and not in a good way. In fact, it’s estimated that a customer can share an unhappy experience with up to ten of their associates, affecting your sales opportunities. Ultimately, this creates a domino effect for your future revenue and profit margin.
Out-of-stock items can impact your ever-critical Amazon IPI score. If your most popular products are consistently running out of stock, while you have surplus inventory of your less popular products, this can have a negative influence on your score.
Out-of-stock items aren’t the only driver behind lost sales. Abandoned carts are a perennial challenge in this space. Studies place abandoned cart rates as high as 80%. The reality is that the number really depends on your product and your competition.
So, how can you prevent lost sales? Data is the primary solution. The key is knowing your sales patterns, and being able to predict changes in stock level and demand. Stay ahead of the curve to ensure your customers can always complete a sale.
Improve your Sales Data Collection and Analysis
Data is at the heart of your sales and stock management. These metrics should be used to drive your supply chain and influence how much inventory you should keep. Sales data monitors the speed of sales or turn, and how often items are running out of stock.
Therefore, your sales data needs to be updated regularly. In today’s e-commerce environment, real-time data is key. Up-to-date metrics should provide you with the means to restock, and keep on top of your order quantities.
Automation and software can issue reminders at regular intervals and can help you analyze and measure your data.
You can schedule these manually, to suit your restocking requirements.
The combination of the most up to date metrics and automation technology should negate the risk of loss of stock in the first instance.
Leverage Demand Forecasting
Next, your data is also key to understanding your future stock requirements. Many e-commerce business owners attempt to conduct a kind of forecasting themselves by using their judgment, and implementing estimated minimum replenishment values.
However, inaccurate forecasting can result in overstocking. Minimum replenishment values are useful, but you need to know how much stock to add to your inventory to cover demand. Purchase too much inventory and it might result in high levels of deadstock.
Demand forecasting tools, like Netstock or Streamline, can analyze your existing sales data, and learn when stock tends to run low. However, the tools can also learn how much of each product line is sold within certain periods of time. Therefore, you can avoid overstocking and holding onto inventory that won’t shift.
The most sophisticated tools can also turn this predictive analysis into timely reminders, or even replenish stock itself. Effective demand forecasting keeps on top of recent demand shifts, and ensures that you never run out of inventory while avoiding overstocking.
Identify Key Retail Dates
Naturally, some days of the year attract more sales. Christmas, Black Friday, Valentine’s and other seasonal holidays are big shopping days for most industries. In 2021, Black Friday online sales revenue reached $8.9 billion. Some days of the year are consistently geared purely towards retail. But it also makes sense to understand your unique business rhythm. Maybe for you it’s more about Chinese New Year, or school vacation.
The more you understand the ebb and flow of your business, the better you can plan.
Either way, it’s important to be prepared for an influx of sales. You don’t want to be the store that ran out of a popular product.
Firstly, identify the key dates of the year for your specific market. For instance, those in the chocolate industry would plan for Valentine’s and Christmas in particular. Your product offering will determine which holidays are most important to your sellers – cooking utensils would be most beneficial to people during Thanksgiving, gardening tools and hardware would make good presents on Father’s Day.
Assess your sales data from those holidays in previous years. This information should provide a rough sales forecast for the year ahead.
Next, plan ahead of your supply chain. Ultimately, Christmas and Black Friday aren’t popular days for your business alone. Therefore, you won’t be the only one needing to restock popular items.
Replenish stock ahead of time. Not only will this save you money, before demand drives up prices, but will ensure that you’re not the only store without the stock to meet consumer demand. With certain holidays, some countries shut down operations until they are over. This means you will need to think logistically about getting inventory early so that you are not caught short while these businesses are closed.
Anticipate Industry Trends
Similarly to the predictability of retail holidays, it’s critical to be on top of market trends in e-commerce. Conduct regular market research. This allows you to keep on top of the latest trends, and find new stock ideas to boost sales.
Market research improves your understanding of your specific market, potential buyers, and your competitors. For example, if an up-and-coming product has few retailers in your market, it makes sense to stock up and corner that selling opportunity.
Not only that, but industry knowledge can help to avoid an out-of-stock sticker for your customers. Learn more about your customers’ sales habits, and what trends are likely to see big sales in the future. As mentioned, going out-of-stock can do more damage than just one lost sale.
Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, you will run out of stock. It’s almost impossible to plan for every scenario and, unfortunately, not everything is under our control. With the current supply chain uncertainty around the world, lost sales might be more frequent.
However, stock automation and marketing systems can help to curtail the damage of a lost sale. Consider implementing a “back-in-stock” automation, using your sales monitoring systems and marketing tools.
Making your consumers aware when your items are back in stock can help to reclaim some of your lost sales. Not every customer will return, and some may have purchased elsewhere. However, this service could be critical for items that can only be found at your store, or where you’ve priced out your competitors.
Marketing and sales automation can be a useful tool in the damage control of lost sales. Ultimately, keeping effective data and metrics, and planning ahead, are key to sales success in your e-commerce business.
Not every lost sale is due to lack of stock, though. Sometimes, you have the stock available, but you can’t get it to the customer.
Especially during the recent supply chain crisis, eCommerce businesses faced logistics challenges. Once again, the key to this is planning ahead.
Take the time to create a logistics and storage strategy. For instance, utilizing more than one storage space or warehouse for your products can help to prevent shipping problems. You might consider storing products in a rented warehouse, alongside Amazon FBA storage and logistics. This way, if there is a problem moving product from one location, you have other options.
Similarly, make use of third-party logistics. It can be easy to “put all your eggs in one basket” when it comes to shipping, especially if prices are competitive. However, you run the risk of lengthy delivery times, or undelivered items, if there are problems with your chosen company.
Spread out your inventory and logistics. For instance, if you’re an Amazon business, keep 30 days of inventory at Amazon, 90 days of inventory at your 3PL, and 30 days of inventory in production with your supplier. This gives you a backup plan should supply chain disruption prevent you from getting products to market.
Between 50% and 80% of online shopping orders are abandoned at cart. This is a huge amount of lost sales for the industry. Of course, we aren’t able to read minds, but there are a few predictable reasons that a customer abandons a basket at checkout.
Your buyer was prepared to make a purchase, and something at the order screen made them switch off. Therefore, one of the primary causes of abandoned baskets is shipping time, and price, as well as poor user experience (UX).
Chances are, your buyers are comparing with competitors. If your shipping is pricier, and longer, than your competitors, then you will lose the sale.
In the days of Amazon Prime, customers expect delivery to be quicker than ever. Your store needs to keep up with these demands, otherwise customers will search elsewhere.
By having cheaper, or even free delivery, customers are less likely to abandon their cart at the checkout. Ultimately, shipping is a cost for any DTC seller, so it can be difficult to navigate free shipping. Consider using bundles to get buyers over a certain sale amount, and offering free shipping at this price. This improves your sales total, while keeping your customer happy.
Keep your pricing competitive by taking advantage of third-party logistics which can help speed up shipping times and cost for customers. You can also look into micro-warehousing, which works well if your target market is in several small geographic regions.
Research the market, and find the best deals for your locations. Find out more about your competitors’ delivery terms. It’s key to find the right balance of price, but with the fastest delivery times.
Ultimately, customers would likely be happier to pay slightly more, if delivery is more convenient. However, again, take the time to research your competition for the same products.
Email drip campaigns are also a valuable tool to negate abandoned carts. Typically, to get to the cart, a customer will have to supply their email address. If they leave their card without payment, use email automation tools to send an email reminder to them. You might even want to offer a discount, if they choose to check out right now. If you can push even a few customers over this final hurdle, you will see a clear increase in revenue.
At Yardline, we understand the hurdles of operating an e-commerce business in the current market. Supply chain and inventory management challenges have made it difficult to keep on top of demand. Our teams of experts are knowledgeable in the e-commerce space, and can offer advice on how to drive your business forward. Our capital advances allow you to invest in your business in order to scale for the future. Get in touch with us today to learn more.