If you’re a retailer, you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get their hands on your products. So what happens when a popular item is out of stock on your e-commerce site? How do you make sure the people who want to buy it know when it’s available again? Best Made Company, a high-end retail brand, has found a solution in email.
Gone, but not forgotten
Best Made’s catalog is made up of more than 200 individual items supplied by a variety of small manufacturers, and their customers love them for it. But their focus on careful craftsmanship means their limited-edition wares—axes, knives, camping supplies, and more—are likely to run out of stock.
“We’ve always been really up-front with our customers," says Best Made’s director of communications, Jaime Soper. "The back-in-stock email program started out of necessity. We release a new product every week. Inevitably, between the breadth of our outdoor outfitting collection and demand, we see periods of low inventory.”
Rather than leave customers refreshing their browsers, when Best Made runs out of something, the item’s product page automatically allows for email signups. The customer enters their address, and when the item is back in stock, they’re notified by email.
How it works
Best Made uses a website plugin to collect email addresses for out-of-stock products and to track demand. When they first started sending out-of-stock messaging in late 2013, they used the same system that provided the plugin to send the back-in-stock notification, but after a while grew frustrated that they couldn’t do customized messaging or track open and click rates.
“We are a design and product driven company, and it was important for our customers to experience that at every step of our communications," Jaime says. "Also, the emails weren’t measurable. This led us to develop a customized MailChimp template for our back-in-stock emails.”
Through MailChimp’s built-in reporting features, Best Made sees a 70% average open rate and a 25-30% click through for these emails, which is miles above the industry average of 26% and 3.26%. It’s also easy for them to add special messages when situations call for it—like when they want to thank particularly patient customers with free shipping. "We call these our ‘good things come to those who wait’ emails," Jaime says.
Learning and growing
After being online-only for several years, Best Made opened a retail space in New York City in May 2013, adding a new dimension to how they communicate product availability to customers. “Our store staff tracks customer inquiries about out-of-stock products and will personally follow up with customers, in addition to signing them up for the email notification,” Jaime says.
And when it comes to planning ahead for seasonal items, Best Made is able to use some of the customer behavior information they’ve garnered from their back-in-stock messaging. “Signups for something like a lambswool sweater or outerwear have helped inform our growing apparel line," Jaime says. Knowing that these items are of interest to customers can help when buyers are deciding whether to explore a product line further. "The back-in-stock program doesn’t change our product development, but it does help us make more informed buying decisions.”