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How continuous supply is essential for shopper loyalty

For businesses to keep customers they need to focus on building and strengthening the supply chain.

French cafes reopen as EU says will allow vaccinated travellers
Delighted customers returned to Paris cafes Wednesday after six months of closures — © AFP
Delighted customers returned to Paris cafes Wednesday after six months of closures — © AFP

What matters most to online shoppers? According to Joe Harris, Chief Revenue Officer at Whereoware, there are important strategies that brands can utilize to increase sales and boost the customer experience as the world faces supply chain issues.

This is similar to the output from a 2020 McKinsey survey, which found that 34 percent of consumers have shopped with a new brand, retailer, or website since the pandemic and 29 percent of them cite product availability as the reason why. This means that having continuous supply of the most popular goods is something of an imperative for retailers.

As the report states: “The supply chain and the operating model are often a secondary focus for a small brand but essential for scaling. An acquirer can provide supply chain instruction or even integration support to help the small brand build a strategic and responsive supply chain. This is especially helpful in categories with long lead times, highly regulated environments, or fluctuating raw material costs.”

Hence building robustness into the supply chain is a matter of great importance for many businesses, especially in these turbulent economic times. Consumers do not like supply stock-outs.

This is in tune with the work of the sociologist Albert Hirschman who wrote in his 1970 book ‘Exit. Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States’ how, in the end, there is a conceptual ultimatum that confronts consumers in the face of deteriorating quality of goods: either exit or voice.

Harris notes that supply chain disruptions are inevitable and will impact the impending Christmas (or ‘holidays’ in the U.S.) shopping season (as featured in many business news reports). Despite this, Harris believes that merchants can enhance the customer experience and drive sales through smart website optimizations and marketing campaigns that redirect customers from out-of-stock products to ready-to-sell inventory.

In order to do so, Harris tells Digital Journal his recommendations for merchants. These ideas are:

  • Make inventory clear on their site with “out-of-stock” messaging.
  • Alert customers when items they viewed or previously purchased are back in stock or on sale with an automated and personalized email.
  • Tailor an artificial intelligence algorithm for product recommendations to only show available products.
  • If a product is out-of-stock, show available product recommendations on the Product Detail Page (PDP) or use retargeting ads to show consumers similar options.
  • Use website tracking technology to identify the highest trafficked areas of your website and update those to promote items you do have in stock.

Harris believes that following the best practices will enable retailers to gain a competitive advantage.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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