Research shows that an estimated 10% of sales in retail stores are lost because retailers don’t have products in-stock. In today’s hyper-connected world in which consumers have access to almost anything at their fingertips at anytime thanks to the online space, this statistic isn’t hard to believe.

Combat out of stock issues with endless aisle

To compete in what is a rapidly changing online environment, retailers are strategically using technology to limit the amounts of sales lost due to products being out of stock. At the end of the day, many people still prefer to go into a physical store to make their purchases. If what they’re after isn’t in-stock, chances are, customers will seek out a competitor, whether that happens to be a physical store or online.   

Anyone operating an ecommerce business in today’s competitive market needs to understand that consumer expectations are getting higher and higher. When we look at consumer trends and habits, it becomes clear that retailers need to think outside the box and put in the extra effort to meet customer expectations or face losing sales to competitors. It really is that simple.

Extend your inventory with drop shipping

To combat this issue, retailers are implementing what we call an  ‘endless isle’  strategy. It’s likely that you’ve heard this term before but it may have been referred to as drop shipping or even virtual merchandising. Retailers place a kiosk in their store where customers can purchase products they can’t find immediately on their shelves. The item is then drop shipped directly to the store despite it not being kept in local inventory. The retailer is simply selling stock kept by external suppliers. In terms of the customer experience, they’re completely unaware because it appears as though your store has sold them the item.

A vital element in terms of ‘endless isle’ being successful for retailers is the drop shipping element. When a supplier ships a product to a customer using your ecommerce portal, it is referred to as drop shipping. The endless isle process sees products being drop shipped to the store where the customer made a purchase.

A solid supply chain is the key

Successfully implementing an endless isle program is not easy and involves technology to work in-line with solid processes and people. With the drop shipping model, stock must be sourced from another location, meaning retailers need to ensure they know where the stock is and then arrange purchase orders for that stock to be processed at relevant times. It’s the retailer’s responsibility to implement necessary processes and monitor all of the sources they’re using to drop ship. As you can imagine, the wheels can fall off very quickly in cases where a retailer isn’t properly prepared or technologically equipped to offer endless isle to their customers in-store.

Endless isle strategies already driving sales in the US

In the US, retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Home Depot are investing in endless isle strategies as they can see value in selling a product that’s unavailable in-store. Meanwhile, they keep their customers happy and promote customer retention by encouraging people to return to the store because they can always find exactly what they’re after.

Retailers stand to benefit greatly from a successful endless isle strategy but it is essential that a robust technology set-up is in place before it is launched. Pronto Xi supports the successful implementation of endless isle by:

  • Having a Point of Sale (POS) application that can be used to implement endless isle.
  • Offering a set-up that uses backordering (Avenue can also be used for backordering purposes if it is set-up in Pronto Xi). 
  • Monitoring stock stored in multiple warehouses. Purchase orders needed to replenish stock can also be managed.

Endless isle is the way of the future for cutting-edge retailers. To discuss how this strategy could benefit your business’ bottom line, contact the Woven team today.