Stock Shortages Become Increasing Pain Point for Retailers

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By Published On: December 11, 20200 Comments

As online retail continues to bubble and grow in popularity, so does the consistency of stock shortages, and retailer are noticing.

A new report from Australia Post has indicated that online retail sales have increased by 72 percent YoY and is now showing signs of normalisation.

Between March and October this year, over 8.5 million Australian households bought online, which is an increase of 13.7 percent YoY, AusPost reported.

However, with this normalisation comes the strain of keeping up to date with stock levels.

In September 2020, 28.3 percent of Australian online shoppers tried to purchase something that was out of stock. This number has increased to 34.5 percent the following month, with a higher proportion of Victorian consumers experiencing a lack of stock available online.

As Australian consumers experience these shortages, 52 percent said they went without the item entirely, and 17 percent said they would wait for the item to return.

For retailers, this is an increasing issue that will only continue as e-commerce keeps growing.

So, how can retailers prevent customers from abandoning their purchase from an online platform, even while stock is low?

Having an item available for pre-order can help reduce the strain on stock levels, especially if the product has a history of being highly anticipated or popular amongst consumers. Alternatively, retailers should signal to customers when an item is back in stock.

Pureplay retailers such as ASOS have this down pat, with segmentation in its wishlist, showcasing when ‘favourites’ come back into stock.


Twenty-seven percent of customers, which is almost one third, will seek an alternative option if the item they are looking for is out of stock.

Rather than unwillingly drive customers away and find a similar item from another retailer, opt to provide a substitute within the site. This can keep the customer on the site, and also can help increase the personalised experience that a customer craves.

According to Australia Post, major cities saw a spike in online purchases in October, increasing by 62 percent YoY. This compares to 46 percent in regional areas.

In preparation for the sales event season, retailers need to prepare for the influx of orders, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

The world of online retail has transformed dramatically this year – retailers need to stay afloat. Otherwise, they may drown.

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Heather Bone