There’s nothing more defeating than having a demo scheduled, showing up, and then there’s not enough product. It’s a bummer for everyone involved. The retailer wishes they had product for you to sell. The brand, obviously, wants to sell product to increase velocity in that retailer. And the brand ambassador goes home without having made the sales they expected. It’s a lose-lose-lose all the way around.
How can you avoid the dreaded out of stock situation? While not foolproof, the tips below can help drastically reduce the issue.
1. Schedule your demo in advance.
If you call 2-3 days before your preferred demo date, the store may not have time to order product before the demo. And especially if you’re a smaller brand, it’s unlikely they will have enough product to support your demo without advanced notice.
2. Call the store to do a product check.
This is a tedious task. Sometimes the buyer or department manager is in a meeting. Other days they are off. And sometimes they just don’t pick up the phone. So, this seemingly small task can sometimes take more time than expected. But it’s important that you call the stores to remind them of the upcoming demo and ask them to place an order if they don’t have sufficient product. Don’t assume that just because you booked a demo through the portal or even with the store directly, that they will automatically place an order.
3. Email the store with a reminder of how much product you expect to sell.
Sometimes when you tell the store how much you would like them to order to support the demo, they’re in the middle of 10 thousand things. So, it’s best to follow up in an email if the manager will give you their contact info. This way they can refer to it when they are placing orders. Or they can forward it to the appropriate party if needed.
4. Loop in your sales team.
Getting more eyes on the situation can help. If you have a broker or distributor who physically visits the stores, they can tell you how much is on the shelf. They can also see if a retailer places an order. After all, the sales team wants to leverage the demos to increase their numbers. Looping them in gives you one more level of support.
5. Remind the retailer of your next demo date when leaving.
If you’re doing an ongoing demo program, remind the store of your next scheduled demo before leaving the store. It’s a great time to ask them to place an order because you just completed a demo where you (hopefully) moved a ton of product! After having proven yourself, the store will be much more apt to bring in sufficient product for your next demo!
While most brands will not be able to avoid product issues 100% of the time, putting these practices in place will help you minimize out of stocks and maximize ROIs for your demo program.
What do you do when you run into an out of stock issue?