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EDITORIAL How price, stock and customer experience are driving growth

With more sales than ever taking place online, new drivers are emerging that determine which websites are the winners and which don’t get out of the group stages.

While price is the primary focus for 57% of consumers when they look online to buy, it is increasingly not the only factor that drives their choices. Research by Bluecore suggests that relevant product recommendations, engaging content and necessity are also important drivers. Interestingly, discounting is only important to around a third of shoppers.

What this points to is that consumers increasingly are differentiating retailers by the experience they get as much as the price of the goods. A separate study from brand strategy agency, Curious, in partnership with YouGov, finds that a third of the UK public have not completed an online purchase in the past year due to a bad experience with a website or app – figure jumps to 50% when looking at transactions made across a lifetime, proving functionality should be an absolute priority for brands when planning their online presence.

And one of the biggest bugbears that impacts that experience is stock availability. Retail sales were given an early lift as the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament group stages got underway, however spikes in demand – especially across electricals and sportswear – is translating into poor online inventory availability.

Analysis of more than 1.85 million SKUs across the UK’s leading sportswear and electrical retailers by OneStock’s Inventory Availability Index, showed that sportswear out-of-stocks jumped 6.8% week-on-week during the first week of international football matches, with unavailable ecommerce inventory accounting for an average of almost a quarter (23.6%) of UK sports retailer’s stock.

All this adds up to being a growing challenge for retailers looking to drive online growth in a competitive market. And this takes not only a technical approach, but also a creative thinking one.

204-year old Scottish whisky maker Bladnoch looked across its whole operation to create better inventory management, ecommerce and logistics in one go. Pet food retailer, upped its game by adding a cat specific subscription service to its roster of services.

And with three-quarters of consumers across Europe saying they have no intention of significantly reducing their online shopping post-pandemic, there is everything to play for.

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