A frictionless path to purchase online relies on retailers having a true view of stock within commerce solutions.

Recently I saw a dress I liked on an ad on Facebook from a very large retailer. At a good price and a nice design, I was easily persuaded and yet became immediately frustrated when I clicked through from the ad and found it was out of stock.

The next time I saw the same item, I thought 'great, it must be back in stock'. But it wasn’t. The item wasn’t just out of stock in my size, it was out of stock in every size.

So why was it still being advertised? I saw the same ad at least six times and, out of curiosity, I clicked through each time, but it was never available to purchase.

I wondered, did the retailer just want to focus its advertising on attractive items and not just items in stock? But really that doesn’t make sense. More likely, it simply didn’t have the systems in place to be able to bring together advertising and back-end systems.

Its display advertising had no understanding of the volume of stock available.

Create a frictionless path to purchase

In today’s competitive market, you simply can’t afford to frustrate a potential customer by bringing them through to your site and stopping them from completing their purchase.

With high expectations and a multitude of alternative sites to purchase from, particularly in fashion, this is not a path to success.

A frictionless journey is required if you want customers to repeat purchase.

Another very frequent scenario is that I click on an ad and find the item is in stock but just not in my size.

If I’ve already purchased from a retailer and I’ve accepted a cookie notification on its site, then I expect it to remember my size. And I would really love to then only be shown items that I can actually buy.

"With all of our talk of big data and personalisation, just remembering my size should be possible, shouldn’t it?"

With all of our talk of big data and personalisation, just remembering my size should be possible, shouldn’t it? When I click through to a site, couldn’t all of the items be defaulted to my size?

By bringing an ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution together with commerce and marketing solutions, retailers should be able to present such a journey to their customer.

A seamless experience with no interruptions will help improve retailers' customer effort score (CES) as shoppers will find it easier to complete their purchase.

Retailers can also drive more efficiency in marketing spend if they ensure automatic pauses in campaigns when items are out of stock. No more customer frustrations leading to negative NPS.

A true view of stock

If retailers have a true view of stock within commerce solutions, they will also be able to discount appropriately to sell through slow-moving stock and thereby protect themselves from margin erosion.

If Item A is flying off the shelves but Item B is stagnant, you don’t want to apply a blanket discount to the category – you want to be able to be targeted in your reductions. Having a version of the truth when it comes to your stock will help you do just that.

Harnessing these types of strategies to pull stock capability directly into commerce solutions can give retailers the edge.

At Oracle, we’re looking at solutions to help retailers solve these problems.



Maureen O’Rourke, strategic industry lead – retail, Oracle 

Maureen Oracle