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Pre-orders & Back-orders: Widening Inventory Visibility

Pre-orders & Back-orders: Widening Inventory Visibility

With all of the supply chain issues emerging during the pandemic, shoppers are more likely to see “out of stock” messages on their favorite items. Sellers have greater visibility into their inventory levels beyond what is on hand. And they can capture more orders if they take a transparent approach to inventory with their customers.

 

Introducing Back-orders to the Mix

Typically, sellers receive periodic shipments of their top-selling goods. So when they run out of their current on-hand inventory, sellers know that more will be arriving on the next scheduled delivery date. Sellers can sell this future inventory as a “back-order” as long as they are transparent with their shoppers, clarifying that they are currently out of stock, they expect more soon, and shoppers can reserve future inventory if they place an order now.

Most customers grudgingly acknowledge supply chain challenges, but sellers can improve their mood by allowing them to place an order against future inventory.

For added flexibility, sellers can also enable shoppers to cancel these “back-orders” if they find the items elsewhere or if fulfillment is taking too long. With the risk of canceled back-orders, sellers are more inclined to fulfill these orders as quickly as possible to realize the revenue.

Creating Excitement with Pre-orders

Accepting orders against re-stocks shouldn’t be the only time when shoppers may place an order against future inventory. If a seller is about to bring a new product to market, why wait to take orders until the stock is on-hand?

Pre-orders can build excitement and allow shoppers to have the items in hand as quickly as possible after the seller receives their inventory.

The best-in-class businesses offering “pre-orders” have optimized their fulfillment so that shoppers receive the item on the very first day the item is available. E.g. Pre-ordering the next Star Wars Thrawn book and receiving it on the first day it is available for sale.

Improve Transparency to Drive Customer Experience

Even if you’re unable to offer shoppers the ability to pre-order or back-order items, sellers should at least allow shoppers to sign up to be notified when an item comes into stock. Once a shopper receives a “now in stock” or “back in stock” message, they will react quickly before the on-hand inventory is sold out, knowing that others have also received the same message. They will also be spared the hassle of checking the website repeatedly to see if the inventory status has changed.

Shoppers are eager to buy the things they need and want. And if sellers offer more transparency into their inventory shipments, they can receive orders earlier in the sales cycle versus waiting for the inventory to be received and the website to be updated. Imagine knowing that your next delivery of merchandise is already pre-sold. You’d be on the phone with the manufacturer or supplier to try to double the order size or expedite the next delivery of goods. And if the manufacturer is unable to send you more inventory due to supply chain issues, you always have the option of finding a similar product that you could recommend to your shoppers.


Pivotree has developed a proprietary Friction Scoring system to help online sellers analyze their customer experience and determine where best to remove friction so that business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will improve. E.g. By offering pre-orders and back-orders, would you expect to increase customer satisfaction and capture more revenue? Contact Pivotree today at
[email protected] to see how we can help you deliver a Frictionless Commerce experience.

James Fong is a veteran of Ecommerce, having started in online Commerce when Amazon was just a bookseller. James heads Pivotree's VTEX practice as the product manager. He is passionate about arming retailers with the latest enabling technology. Personally, he is an avid shopper of Star Wars merchandise, where Kenner was the first toy manufacturer to sign on to make Star Wars toys in 1977 and whose name can still be found on Star Wars toys today, 45 years later.

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