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Online Shoppers Encountering More Out-of-Stock Items

Nearly 60% of those surveyed experience a preferred product frequently or almost always unavailable
Julio Sanchez
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According to a Lucidworks survey, online shoppers are amenable to substitutes for their groceries, with nearly half going to a different grocer if they can’t find what they need on their preferred app or website.

According to a survey from Lucidworks, a San Francisco-based company specializing in commerce, customer service and workplace applications, shoppers are seeing increased out-of-stock messages online during the pandemic but are mostly open to buying recommended substitutes from online grocery sites and third-party apps. The survey, Shoppers Stay Hungry Online: Groceries on the Internet in 2022, outlined how frequently online grocery shoppers receive an out-of-stock message, what products they’ll never buy substitutes for, and how frequently grocers and third-party apps are offering relevant substitutions and recommendations.

Lucidworks found that 58% of shoppers find that a preferred item is frequently or almost always out of stock online, likely as a result of ongoing supply chain issues exacerbated by COVID. Only about a quarter of shoppers said that sites are making alternative recommendations every time an item they want is unavailable, and 11% of shoppers reported that they rarely see recommendations for substitutes and usually end up on a “no results” page.

According to the survey, shoppers are amenable to substitutes for a large portion of their groceries, with nearly half going to a different grocer if they can’t find what they need on their preferred app or website. When shoppers were asked if there was an item that they would never buy a substitute for, however, roughly 90% of respondents said that they have at least one. Some items that they’re not choosing substitutes for are shampoos, sugar-free candy, meat, pet food, fruits and vegetables, cereal, and deodorant.

Additionally, more than half of respondents said that a low-in-stock notification would influence their purchase decision, and 80% of those shoppers said that they’d be more likely to make the purchase if they were alerted when items were low in stock. With 79% of shoppers wanting to be notified when a preferred item is back in stock, 66% prefer to be notified by email, 44% prefer a notification via text message, and 20% want the item auto-added to their virtual cart.

The Lucidworks survey was conducted in March of this year among 800 consumers across the United States and the United Kingdom who shop for groceries online at least once a month. The aim of the survey was to discover consumer preferences and behaviors regarding online grocery shopping during the pandemic to understand dietary restrictions, price fit and brand loyalties for each individual shopper.

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