I needed to rent a post office box for my business. Try as I may, I couldn’t get any information on pricing or availability through the United States Postal Service website or phone numbers. So I headed off to the post office to rent my mailbox.
I rearranged my schedule, drove to the station, and waited in line just to be told there were no mailboxes available. The USPS handles inventory shortages by forcing customers to visit them in person to get the bad news. Don’t follow their example in your business!
Inventory Runs Out
Post Office boxes, like other products in your inventory have finite supplies. The day will come when you just don’t have the product a customer wants. If your products are popular or you have supply chain problems, this may happen more than you’d like. Be prepared to communicate the situation to your customers.
Your product offerings online should indicate their inventory status. Amazon.com does this well by telling you when only a few items are left and how long until an item will ship.
Your automated phone tree can provide details on inventory shortages. This will allow your customers to find out the information they need without you needing extra personnel to handle the calls. When your customer service representatives speak with customers, they need to be empowered with the latest product and inventory information. Customers call you for facts and data, not to be redirected elsewhere.
We’ve talked before about only marketing what you have in stock. Take this a step further and show people what is available and when missing items will be available in your store. I asked the Post Office clerk if any boxes were coming up for renewal. She didn’t have any information about that. A large automated sign that shows available mailboxes could be prominently displayed at the station. One glance would have told me to turn around and leave instead of having to wait in line for the bad news.
When your inventory dwindles, communication with your customers can make the difference between persuading them to return or losing them forever.