Empty shelves don’t have to be a dead end

27Oct09

It’s happened to all of us: you go to the store to buy a specific product, only to be greeted by an empty shelf. What do you do next? You could ask a sales rep if they have more in the back, or seek out a similar item elsewhere in the store. However, I believe many shoppers choose door number three: they just give up and don’t buy anything from that category.

Why leave this to chance? Instead, create some basic signage that directs customers towards the desired behavior. For instance, say you’re the type of store that has a lot of extra inventory in the back. You could place some signage at the back or bottom of the shelf area that’s only visible when all the units are sold out, saying something like “Is this product sold out? Ask a sales rep to check the back room for more.” Or, if all your inventory is placed on the sales floor, you could use similar signage to point people towards similar items when the first item is sold out.

Either way, out-of-stock signage helps shoppers help themselves — and help the store in the process. By providing a relevant call to action, you’re increasing the chance they’ll find what they need and leave the store happy. At the same time, you’re enlisting shoppers to seek out your staff when the shelves are empty, increasing the chance that fast-selling products get replenished quickly.



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