Oracle Retail boss: out of stock is not an option

Empowering staff and shoppers to put consumers at the heart of the shopping process, as well as investing in technology and individualising transactions, are the key strategies for retail success today, according to research from leading industry tech company Oracle Retail.

The global study found that British consumers are more sophisticated in their shopping habits than their international counterparts, particularly in relation to using technology during the purchasing process and in terms of multichannel expectation levels.

Oracle's research, published in a new white paper called The Demand for Commerce Anywhere in Britain's New Retail Democracy, also shows that product availability is now viewed as the most important prerequisite in the transaction journey – especially in the UK.

Some 90% of British survey respondents said that they would search elsewhere if a product was unavailable, giving very little wriggle room for retailers to make stock and merchandising errors in today's fickle consumer environment.

Meanwhile, 93% said they wanted to understand availability and 40% were inclined to be loyal when a retailer provided information about availability.

Essential Retail joined Oracle Retail EMEA senior director Sarah Taylor in London for a presentation of the research results, where she explained how 60% of UK consumers want access to product information, which is well above the global average.

Taylor commented: "Immediacy is key. Being out of stock now is not an option."

"Loyalty spend is improved with availability, people feel it's more important than price. It's almost taken for granted that price needs to be right if the consumer is to transact."

Nick Robertson, CEO of online fashion house Asos, recently suggested that by the time today's 12-year-olds become regular shoppers, out-of-stocks will be an "alien concept". His point being that they will be used to shopping online with real-time inventory levels, or where retailers can locate stock even if it isn't in their warehouse at that particular moment in time.

Based on the findings of Oracle's research, this is arguably the direction all retailers need to be heading. As technology evolves, enhanced personalisation techniques based on intelligent data management are starting to aid this process.

The white paper calls on businesses operating in the sector to individualise their interactions by "utilising and validating every touch point to encourage consumers to share their details". Consumers, as a whole, are calling out for better interactions that meet their requirements for individualisation, it adds.

UK shoppers are typically looking for "something unique, something compelling and available now", Taylor explained.