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Retailers Run Risk Back-to-School Out-of-Stocks Will Permanently Drive Customers Away

If a retailer is out of stock of an item just twice, 40 percent of parents looking for back-to-school items say they will avoid shopping at that retailer again.

That's among the findings of a survey from 1010data, which provides a cloud-based platform for big data discovery and data sharing. With nearly 7 out of 10 parents reporting that they expect stores to run out of back-to-school items by the time school starts, retail customer loyalty may be at risk. Half of surveyed parents believe that back to school staples like backpacks will be out of stock when they need them most.

Nearly all parents across the country (94 percent) reported experiencing frustration when it comes to back-to-school shopping. The national study of more than 1,000 parents, conducted by uSAMP in August 2014, found that retailers often fall short when it comes to carrying important items on back-to-school shopping lists – topping the list of complaints is out-of-stocks.

When asked about what things frustrated them during the back to school shopping season:

• 57% of all parents surveyed were frustrated about out-of-stocks

• 51% raised long lines as a problem

• 49% were bothered by high prices

• 48% were frustrated by hard to find items in stores

• 39% cited angry or rude shoppers

• 31% reported misbehaving children

• 27% were frustrated by obnoxious parents.

When asked about which types of stores parents have encountered out-of-stocks in:

• Nearly three out of four parents (74 percent) pointed to large chain stores as running out of important items on back-to-school shopping lists

• Close to one-third of parents (29 percent) indicated that small, local stores were likely to be out of stock of what they need to buy for the student in their household

• The problem was also significant in supermarkets (27 percent) and mall stores (21 percent)

Notably, parents had better expectations for big online retailers. Only 12 percent of parents had encountered out-of-stocks at big online retailers during the back to school season.

“The back-to-school season can either be a cherished ritual for parents or be one of the most stressful times of the year, and this study shows that, ironically, retailers sometimes let parents down at a time when they could be building trust,” said Sandy Steier, co-founder and CEO of 1010data. “For most retailers, the issue is not that they don’t have data about these problems; rather, the issue is that they often can’t pull the data together and analyze it quickly and so that they create insights they can act upon.”

When parents can’t find key back to school items at a store, a whopping 85 percent will visit a competitor store instead, according to the new study. Twelve percent of parents will even turn to word of mouth and tell their friends not to shop at a store when items are not there.

The study confirmed that parents across the country have diminished expectations for retailers when it comes to the back-to-school season. Half of all parents surveyed actually expect stores to be out of stock before school starts. More than one-third (35 percent) of parents say they expect stores to be out of stock on items during the first week of school, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) don’t think they will be able to find what they need in stores after the first week of school.

Source: 1010data

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