Is a lack of inventory control derailing your marketing plan?

I want to support small local businesses, but some of them are making it hard.

A local specialty shop carries a shave cream I really like and it’s normally available in several scents. Running low, I pop in the store. They only have one scent that I’ve never encountered before and it’s strong and unappealing.  The clerk seems surprised and unhappy at the lack of inventory, says he’ll get someone to place an order today and to check back in two weeks. I use my travel size and go back in three weeks.  No new supply.  

Later that day, a few clicks on Amazon and the unscented version that I prefer is on its way. Will I return to the local store for the shave cream in the future?  Unlikely, and the result is that they’ve lost store visits and the occasional spontaneous add-on purchase.

Due to a dairy allergy, I use alternative milks.  I was perfectly happy with almond milk until one day my local grocer offered walnut milk. Wow, what a superior product it turned out to be.  Thicker, creamier, the best tasting I’d ever had.  

I wrote an email to the customer service department at the walnut milk manufacturer about my love of their product and even suggested that it’s consistency would make a better alternative ice cream than their competitors current offerings.  I got a note back the same day thanking me for my comments about their new product and how the marketing department would enjoy my feedback.  I even posted a photo on social media professing my love for the product.  A burgeoning romance was in the works.

Well, not so fast.  My local grocer hasn’t been able to get the product for the past six weeks.  Back to almond milk.  Will I buy walnut milk again?  Probably since I’m at the grocery store every week anyway.  But what if I was a curbside customer and hadn’t had access to the product in six weeks?  I’d likely stop checking it on my form.  Either way, my enthusiasm for their product has waned and interest in telling others about it thereby helping them create interest and demand has ended.

Finally, my local protein supplement specialty retailer is one of the only places that stocks an energy bar I really like.  I go to the store, which is not exactly convenient for me, and they’re out.  The owner says he’s sorry he let it run out and to check back anytime next Tuesday.  I go back the following Wednesday and it’s there.  I could order it directly from the manufacturer online, but I’ll continue to go out of my way to support a local business.

Pay attention to your inventory control, properly forecast your supply chain before opening a new account and do what you tell a customer you’re going to do.  Appreciate the time of your customer.  These details matter and will have an impact on your marketing plan and your customer loyalty.

For ideas to build your customer loyalty, contact Roger at 713-398-0863 or roger@tephraagency.com