Customers shopping online expect to immediately know if the product they want is available.
When real-time inventory information is missing or inaccurate, customers will get frustrated.
I recently purchased a generator from electricgeneratorsdirect.com. The individual product pages clearly show if a particular generator is in stock or on back order:
This information helps the customer make an informed and confident purchase decision.
Scarcity Drives Sales
You can also use real-time inventory to your advantage in marketing your products. If there are only a few products left in stock, tell your customers.
The principle of scarcity is a powerful psychological motivator.
When customers see that you only have a few products left, they will feel compelled to order to avoid losing out on the desired product.
Mimic Offline Store Shelves
You are trying to replicate the offline shopping experience on your website. At a corner store, a person can see if a product is on the shelf or not. When something is out of stock, the customer immediately knows and can pick an alternative off the shelf or go to another store.
The feedback is almost instant. Your website needs to convey this same in-stock message.
Real-Time Inventory Leads to Sales
When customers know that you really have the product they want or are transparent in what you can deliver, they will be more confident in buying from you.