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Online Retailers Take Stock

If you thought counting goods on a shelf was tough....

July 12, 2007 | Retail & Ecommerce

What happens when an online shopper doesn't find what she wants? Like many retail shoppers, she goes to another store, according to "The Online Inventory Impact Survey." The survey was commissioned by the e-tailing group and BetweenMarkets and conducted in May 2007.

While about half of respondents said they checked for the out-of-stock item at another site, 56% of online shoppers also said they simply checked back later for replenished stock, or signed up to be e-mailed when the item became available.

Behaviors of US Online Shoppers* When a Product Is Out of Stock, May 2007 (% of respondents)

The Internet has made it easy for shoppers to check competing stores for merchandise. With inventory management more important than ever, 83% of online retailers have real-time inventory assessment on their product pages. Shoppers at three-quarters of online retail Websites can also see if an item is in stock when using a virtual shopping cart.

US Online Retailer Websites with Real Time Inventory, by Site Location, Q4 2005 & Q4 2006 (% of total)

Retailers with both online and offline stores are now concerned with maintaining a synchronized inventory for both.

Respondents to a Retail Systems Alert Group survey cited efficient inventory allocation as among the key opportunities for creating customer satisfaction. Over half of retailers selected synchronizing customer and inventory information as a high priority.

Business Initiatives that Matter to US Multi-Channel Retailers, December 2006 (% of respondents)

Learn more about how online and offline retail work together. Read the eMarketer US Retail E-Commerce: Entering the Multi-Channel Era report.

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