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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is out with a new study saying that “out-of-stock rates for online purchases of consumer products in the U.S. are nearly twice as high as in-store availability,” creating lost sales opportunities that may run as high as $17 billion globally.

However, the study also suggests that online out of stocks do not have the same impact on shoppers as they do in bricks-and-mortar stores.

According to the study, “The number of items that are available online (OLA) is 80 percent worldwide and 85 percent in the U.S. The 15 percent out-of-stock rate online in the U.S. is nearly double the out-of-stock rate of 8.3 percent for physical stores.

“Consumer reaction to out-of-stocks are quite different in the online sales compared to stores. U.S. consumers are more likely to remain on the E-commerce site and switch a brand or substitute an item within the brand, which the researchers dubbed ‘the Amazon effect..’ However, if a physical store is out of a product, the consumers are more likely to switch to another store to find the product.
KC's View:
When you think about it, this shouldn’t be too much of as surprise, because online retailers have a much greater ability to provide options and alternatives when a specific item isn’t available. It is one of the ways in which online retailers actually are able to provide more personalized service than their bricks-and-mortar brethren … and points to the challenge facing traditional retailers.