There are many new problems facing retailers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Some organizations (like the travel sector) are facing a lack of demand. Others are facing too high of a demand, creating strains on supply chains and inventory levels. 

This morning during JEB’s office forum, someone asked “what do we do about dwindling inventory levels? We aren’t sure when products will be restocked.” 

This article will talk about # strategies to manage coronavirus impact on retail inventory levels.

Communicate with Affiliates

One big piece of advice for this situation is to communicate with affiliates. They will be promoting what works for their customer base. If they have a category of items selling well, and you know the inventory level is slipping, you need to let affiliates know right away.  

Affiliates get customer service complaints if an order never gets a ship date or has delays. During the coronavirus, over communication is the way to go.

Slow Demand

Slowing demand isn’t something we talk about a lot in the retail sector but unstable inventory levels causes consumer frustration. Which leads to an increase in costs associated with your customer service reps, and ultimately lost customers. 

If consumers don’t know what’s going on, you will hear from them. 

If you are managing the affiliate channel in-house, be sure you are doing everything you can to lower the cost of doing business through the channel. 

Do not promote items that are out of stock, customers will go somewhere else.

Here are 3 tips to intelligently slow demand for a product within the affiliate channel:

Remove Product from Data Feed

Every affiliate network has a unique way to remove a product from the data feed. This is often noted within your network launch documentation.

If you’ve followed best practices and have text links and/or banners promoting the product, remove them from the network – and remove the landing page from any creative.

Link to Similar Products

We still want affiliates to earn commissions, and the customer to make a purchase. 

After removing the out-of-stock product, add in links that highlight similar or complementary products. 

Create coupons and discount the replacement products to shift the demand.

Create a Wait List

Creating a wait list is best practice. It involves notifying the consumer that the product is out of stock, but allows them to purchase anyway. 

Provide an estimated ship date and let the consumer know up front that it will be a few weeks. 

Creating a wait list allows retailers to continue capturing revenue, and ship when the inventory becomes available. 

Be sure to communicate shipping dates clearly and let customers know before they add the item to the cart.

To recap, when facing inventory level issues:

  • communicate with your affiliates
  • slow the demand where you can
  • highlight similar products
  • create a wait list
  • Clearly mark shipping dates

Do you have a product that everyone really wants right now? 

Schedule time on Jamie’s calendar here to learn how to intelligently slow demand.

Video: What To Do About Shrinking Inventory Levels

Transcript of “What to do about shrinking inventory levels” video:

Hi, this is Jamie Birch with JEB Commerce. Thank you for watching our video and we hope you are healthy and well!

First things first, if you want help, use calendly.com/jamiebirch to schedule a time to chat with me about any issue you may be facing. You may also reach our team at gethelp@jebcommerce.com.

Today I am talking about the issue of inventory levels. Many retailers are facing challenges on each end of the spectrum. Some organizations (like the travel sector) are facing a lack of demand. Others are facing too high of a demand, creating strains on supply chains and inventory levels. This video will talk about strategies to employ and execute to help aid inventory level issues.

Do you have a product that everyone really wants right now? This morning during JEB’s office forum, someone asked “what do we do about dwindling inventory levels? We aren’t sure when products will be restocked.” One big piece of advise for this situation is to communicate with your affiliates. They will be promoting what works for their customer base. If they have a category of items selling well, and you know the inventory level is slipping, you need to let affiliates know right away. It will create problems when they see the AOV and/or CR slip. Affiliates get customer service complaints if an order never gets a ship date or has delays. In times of crisis, over communication is the way to go.

Also, intelligently slow your demand for that product as best as you can. This isn’t something we talk about lot in this industry. But, when you have unstable inventory levels, it causes consumer frustration, an increase in costs associated with your customer service reps, and ultimately lost customers. If consumers don’t know what’s going on, you’ll hear from them. If you are solely managing your affiliate channel, make sure you are doing everything you can to lower the cost of doing business through the channel. If you promote items that aren’t in stock, customers will go somewhere else.

How can you slow the demand? Remove the product from your data feed. Every network has their own unique way to do this. This is often in your network launch documentation. If you’ve followed best practices and have text links and/or banners promoting the product, remove them from the network. Remove the landing page from any creative.

We still want the affiliates to be able to earn commissions, and the customer to be able to make a purchase. Add in links that highlight similar or complimentary products. You can even create coupons and discounts on these replacement products to shift the demand.

You can also create a wait list for the product. I would consider this a best practice. This involves notifying the consumer that the product is out of stock, but allows them to purchase anyway. Give an estimated ship date and they will know up front that it will be a few weeks. This allows you to continuing capturing revenue, and ship when you have the inventory. Communicate ship dates clearly on those vulnerable items. Let people know before they add the item to the cart.

To recap, if you are facing inventory level issues, you should communicate with your affiliates, slow the demand where you can, highlight similar products, create a wait list, and communicate ship dates clearly.

There are many unique problems being encountered during this Coronavirus pandemic. If this was helpful to you, please share this video or comment below with your own tips! If you would like more personal attention, e-mail gethelp@jebcommerce.com or set up a time with me at calendly.com/jamiebirch. I would love to help you navigate this challenging time!

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