Yesterday, in reporting on a TNS Retail Forward study about customer reluctance to cross aisles in big stores, we listed suggestions for how to lure them across aisles. One of the tips was to ensure that online inventory information reflects reality. In other words, we said, “Don’t put it on your Web site if your customer can’t find it in your store.”
Today, StorefrontBacktalk Editor Evan Schuman calls to our attention a wrinkle for retailers who use their in-store inventory also as their online inventory.
You may read Schuman’s full article here, but the gist is that when an in-store customer picks up an item and puts in her shopping cart, it stays on the inventory until she checks out. That means, an online customer could be told an item is available when it actually is not. Even though the item may still be in the store, it is not on the shelf but in a cart headed for the checkout.
Eventually, Schuman says, technology will solve the problem. Until then, he suggests keeping separate online and in-store inventories. Makes sense.