Brits take stock of buying online

February 2018

More than half of Brits immediately turn to a competitor if met with stock issues, new research has revealed.

Brits heading online to do their shopping are growing increasingly frustrated when making their purchases. Over 90% of the public are regularly facing stock-related issues, such as low stock or items being unavailable, with these problems leading potential buyers to experience frustration (42%) or annoyance (32%).

These difficulties are not just irritating customers but are also pushing them away, with over half (51%) of the public saying that if the item they were looking for was not available they would head straight to a competing site to avoid disappointment.  
The research also found that 18% of Brits would avoid repeat custom with a retailer after just one occasion where lack of stock has been the main issue, and 17% would buy elsewhere if their item isn’t in stock within just a 24-hour period.

When it came to stock notifications, ‘Low Stock’ gave Brits the most sense of urgency to buy online that day (78%), followed by ‘X people are looking at this now’ (45%), ‘X users have looked at this today’ (40%), and ‘X users have bought this today (23%).

Regarding the products that were causing the stock issues, – 42% of Brits said that the most in–demand fashion items caused the most stock problems, followed by food and drink (16%), technology (15%), and entertainment (8%).

The research, conducted by delivery management company Whistl, examined where in the UK people were most likely to head elsewhere, if met with stock issues. This revealed that shoppers from Newcastle are the most likely to turn to competitors, followed by those in Belfast (57%), Southampton and Bristol (56%), London and Glasgow (both 54%). On the other hand, residents in Cardiff were most likely to stay loyal to retailers, and wait patiently until the stock had been replenished.

Melanie Darvall, Director of Marketing and Communications at Whistl, said:

“It was interesting to see how stock levels can affect consumer behaviour. We knew that there would be some influence, but we certainly weren’t expecting it to have such a large impact as our findings have shown. It was particularly insightful to see how people react when they see a notification of low stock on something they want (or think they want). The fear that it may be snapped up by someone else if they don’t act quickly typically makes them purchase immediately in order to avoid disappointment."

“It may seem obvious, but stock management is essential to effective and prosperous retailers as the alternative is customers becoming disappointed, and taking their business elsewhere.”

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