In a previous post, we mentioned the importance of retailers making their in-store inventory visible online. L2’s Intelligence Report: Omnichannel Retail finds that just 18% of consumers visit a store in the absence of an in-store inventory viewing tool online, compared to 42% when they find their desired item marked as available. But not only are brands slow in launching in-store inventory visibility online, those who do add the feature are not integrating it with other digital tools. Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Home Depot, Sears, and Walmart were the only brands in the study that used customers’ saved store preferences to deliver in-store inventory information more seamlessly.
Most puzzling were the nine retailers (Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Loft, Macy’s, Staples, Talbots, Target, and Walgreens) who gave consumers the option of searching real-time inventory and saving their preferred store, but failed to link the two. Some of the above even have sophisticated item-locating capabilities. For example, Abercrombie & Fitch pulls up a map to show the specific location of each searched item. Displaying item availability in the customer’s favorite store and offering the option to expand the search could greatly increase convenience.