Managing Backorders and Keeping Customers HappyApril 24, 2013
Just because your store has run out of product does not mean that your sales have to slow down. There are a few ways you can manage this kind of scenario. For example, you can pre-sell upcoming items (which is commonly done when adding new inventory selections). You can also sell products that aren’t in stock, or just oversell the inventory you have on-hand because more stock will be in your warehouse shortly. It sounds risky – selling products that you don’t actually have – but as long as you have all of your fulfillment services running smoothly, you can keep your sales steady and your customers happy. [more]
First and foremost, you should always be communicating with your fulfillment company and have a strong grasp of inventory management. Obviously, if your inventory management is poorly handled, then letting your e-store accept pre-orders and backorders is going to cause problems.
Once you’ve established that basis for working with backordered inventory, you’ll need to focus on the customer experience. No matter how many guarantees you have for your backordered inventory, customers can often be apprehensive about paying for a product without knowing when they will actually receive it. You can improve the backorder experience for your customers by effectively communicating with them. Be honest with estimated delivery dates and keep customers informed of any potential delays as they happen. Customers already know it will take extra time for the product to reach them, so if you manage their expectations and keep them informed throughout the process, you’ll find that they appreciate it. If you want to go the extra mile, consider including a small gift or discount along with the backorder to help increase customer confidence.
Backorders require some finesse, but they are very common in ecommerce. Just remember that the key to a successful backorder is system is communication: with your fulfillment company, warehouse managers, logistics managers, and your customers.