What Are Stockouts, And How Do They Affect Your Business?

Understand what causes stockouts and how you can avoid them. Learn the adverse effects of stockouts on your business. Find out what to do if you have a stockout.

What Are Stockouts, And How Do They Affect Your Business?

A stockout is when a business doesn't have the inventory it needs to meet customer demand. This can result in lost sales and unhappy customers. This blog post will explain what causes stockouts and how you can avoid them. We'll also discuss the adverse effects of stockouts on your business. By understanding stockouts, you can take steps to prevent them from happening in your store.

What Are Stockouts?

A stockout occurs when inventory runs out, preventing the purchase or shipment of an item, which lowers sales. A stockout can have long-term and short-term expenses that affect a business.

Causes Of Stockouts

Numerous factors could cause a stockout. A stockout, no matter how it happens, may harm your company both in the long term and on an immediate basis. To prevent such a situation, you must take every safety measure.

A stockout may result from a variety of factors, including erroneous data set, including:

A miscalculation in the dispatch of goods

A miscommunication between inventory managers and warehouse staff can lead to inventory stockouts. In some cases, inventory may need to be correctly counted or dispatched, resulting in a shortage of items when customers expect them to be available. 

Insufficient inventory

Companies may purchase insufficient inventory if they underestimate customer demand or fail to consider potential seasonal fluctuations. This can result in inventory shortages and lost sales opportunities due to stockouts. 

Unexpected supplier issues

Unexpected problems with suppliers can also lead to inventory stockouts. This includes delivery delays, quality issues, and other unforeseen events that could disrupt inventory supply chains and lead to inventory shortages. 

Improper inventory management

Improperly managing inventory levels is one of the most common causes of inventory stockouts. Businesses must actively manage inventory levels to ensure items remain in stock and customer needs are met. 

Miscalculation of returns

Companies may need to pay more attention to the rate at which customers return items, resulting in inventory stockouts. Businesses must correctly anticipate customer returns and consider this when forecasting inventory needs to avoid shortages. 

Miscalculation of shrinkage

Shrinkage, or inventory loss due to theft, damage, and other factors, can lead to inventory stockouts. Companies must accurately anticipate inventory shrinkage to ensure items remain in stock when customers need them most.

A stockout will indeed occur if inventory management is poor. The key to preventing stockouts is having an up-to-date understanding of the active inventory and how that inventory correlates with consumer demand.

How To Prevent Stockouts?

Calculate Your Adequate Supply

The extra merchandise you have on hand in case of an emergency or a breakdown in the retail supply chain that lowers inventory levels is known as safety stock.

Spend Money On Inventory Control

Please ensure the appropriate inventory levels are available to satisfy client demand while staying under budget.

Implement A System For Tracking Inventory

The most crucial step to prevent inventory stockouts is to ensure that you have a system for tracking inventory. This includes using inventory management software, barcode scanning, and regular inventory counts. This will help you keep track of your inventory levels in real time so they can be replenished when needed.

Forecast Demand

 Another critical step to preventing inventory stockouts is to forecast demand correctly. This means monitoring trends in customer demand and anticipating what they might need in the future. By accurately predicting the amount of inventory required, businesses can ensure that they are always in stock on an item.

Improve Supply Chain Efficiency

 An efficient supply chain prevents inventory stockouts and reduces associated costs. Streamlining the inventory replenishment process is key to keeping inventory levels high. This can include negotiating better terms with suppliers, investing in inventory optimization software, and automating tasks wherever possible.

Keep a Safety Stock

Maintaining a safe inventory can prevent stockouts and help businesses meet customer demands during peak periods. A safety stock should be large enough to cover any unexpected surges in order, so it's essential to determine how much inventory is needed for those times before setting a safety stock level.

Set Reorder Points To Trigger Restocking

You should also set points to trigger inventory restocking when inventory levels reach a certain point. This will ensure inventory is replenished before stockouts occur and help businesses avoid costly backorders or lost sales due to out-of-stock items.

 Establish Supplier Relationships And Negotiate Better Prices

To prevent inventory stockouts, it's essential to have reliable suppliers and negotiate better prices. Establishing relationships with multiple suppliers and negotiating terms such as bulk discounts will help businesses get the inventory they need at the right price. This can also lead to fewer inventory shortages since firms are not reliant on one supplier. 

Train Employees On Stock Management Procedures

Businesses should ensure that their employees are adequately trained on inventory stock management procedures. Training staff to properly monitor inventory levels and report any discrepancies will go a long way in preventing inventory shortages. 

Use Technology To Improve Stock Monitoring

The use of inventory management technology can help businesses monitor inventory levels more closely and predict when stockouts are likely to occur. This can include using inventory optimization software and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data and identify potential stockout risks. 

Monitor Inventory Levels Regularly

Finally, monitoring inventory levels regularly is essential for preventing inventory stockouts. This means tracking inventory daily or weekly and taking action when items reach the reorder point. By keeping inventory levels in check, businesses can ensure that customers never encounter a stockout issue.

Related: What is Merchandise Inventory and Why Do You Need It?

The Impact Of Stockouts On Businesses

Lost Revenue

One of the most damaging consequences of inventory stockouts is lost revenue. Every time a customer requests an item out of stock, the business needs to catch up on potential sales. This can be especially detrimental for companies with limited inventory or those offering unique things you cannot easily replace.

Lower Customer Satisfaction

Stockouts can cause customer dissatisfaction and lead to negative reviews online. Customers may look for the same product from another company if they realize their desired item is no longer available. It's essential for retailers to monitor inventory levels actively and ensure things are in stock when customers expect them to be.

Higher Costs

Stockouts cost businesses money directly in terms of lost sales and create additional costs associated with inventory replenishment and management. If an inventory is not adequately managed, stockouts can occur more frequently, resulting in higher inventory costs as well as increased labor costs from having to replenish the stock.

Inaccurate Forecasting

Inventory forecasting can lead to inventory stockouts. Businesses must consider expected customer demand when determining how much inventory to purchase or manufacture. Accurately estimating customer demand is essential for preventing inventory shortages and ensuring that items remain in stock. Failing to anticipate customer demand can result in costly inventory errors and lost sales opportunities. 

Higher Expenses

Companies may also incur additional expenses related to shipping products on short notice or dealing with backorders due to inventory stockouts. This includes potential expedited shipping charges and delays that can disrupt inventory supply chains and lead to inventory stockouts. In addition, businesses may need to purchase additional inventory from other suppliers or increase inventory levels to prevent future stockouts. These costs can add up quickly and significantly reduce profitability.

Lost Customers

Customers have a terrible experience when things are out of stock. According to a survey, 30% of buyers said stockouts make shopping less enjoyable. Furthermore, after the initial stockout, 69% of buyers will pick a replacement item, but after three such occurrences, 70% of customers will switch to a different brand entirely.

Related: Backorders vs. Out of Stock- Things to Know About Keeping Items Available

Strategies For Recovering From A Stockout

1. Monitor inventory levels

Businesses should actively monitor inventory levels and take a proactive approach to inventory management to prevent stockouts from occurring. By keeping track of inventory, companies can identify any shortages or trends before they become a problem. 

2. Increase inventory levels

Companies may need to increase inventory levels if stockouts occur regularly. This allows them to ensure products remain in stock when customers expect them to be available and prevents lost sales opportunities due to inventory shortages. 

3. Invest in inventory forecasting

Accurately predicting customer demand is essential for preventing inventory stockouts. Companies should review their forecasts regularly and adjust them based on customer feedback, seasonal trends, and other factors influencing inventory levels. 

4. Utilize inventory management systems

 Using inventory management software can help businesses track inventory and alert them when inventory levels are low, or inventory needs to be replenished. This allows companies to avoid stockouts and ensure products remain in stock when customers expect them to be available. 

5. Communicate with customers

Companies should communicate with customers when inventory shortages occur and provide updates on inventory availability. This helps build trust between the company and the customer and minimizes potential negative experiences due to a stockout.


Stockouts can cause a lot of harm to your business. Not only do they result in lost sales, but they also lead to unhappy customers and damaged reputations. To avoid stockouts, you need to understand what causes them and take steps to prevent them from happening. Simpl can help you fulfill Amazon orders, so you never have to worry about running out of stock again. Get in touch with us today if you want more information or want us to help you get started.

Recommended: What Is The Difference Between Out-of-stock And Backorders?

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