Promotions at The Edge: How Promotions Cause eCommerce Shopping Experiences to Break

Charles Nicholls
May 23, 2022

Shopping has changed, again. 

What felt revolutionary just ten years ago is already the status quo. We’ve jumped from bricks and mortar stores to an online model where a brand's eCommerce site was at both the start and the end of the user journey — and beyond. Now, there’s a new path to purchase, where shoppers start their journeys “at the edge” — on social media — and finish on the brand site.

This represents both the biggest opportunity, but also the biggest problem for brands in eCommerce today. 71% of online shoppers who start their shopping journey social media want to complete their purchase on the brand site, but the experience is falling short. 

Promotions, in particular, are causing edge shopping experiences to break. Let’s find out why.

What is the problem?

81% of customers complain of poor landing page experiences when referred by social channels to the brand site. Broken links, error messages, and slow landing pages all contribute, but product availability is a major concern.

When clicking through from social media to a brand’s website, a staggering 98% of shoppers have experienced product availability issues. 

It’s easy to see why shoppers get frustrated when edge experiences lead to ‘out of stock’ messages. There’s an implicit assumption that products promoted on social media are available to purchase, but that often isn’t always the case. In fact, product availability issues are frequently caused by promotional activity: promotions drive increases in traffic that create knock-on availability issues. 

Most of the time, a lack of data is to blame. 

Consider your own organization. Does your social team have real-time access to product availability data? More often than not, the people creating promotional posts aren’t aware of the inventory levels of specific products. It’s not their job to be aware of them. Their job is to drive traffic. 

When they do their job well, products sell out. But frequently the promotion doesn’t get turned off. 

This isn’t a new problem. Promotions are a systemic problem, as old as the retail industry itself. We only have to look at the shop window scenario. While a merchandiser would only change a shop window every few months, the stock would change every day. A great shop window drives footfall into the store in search of specific or discounted items, which have often already been sold out due to the disproportionate footfall.

It’s an old problem, but one that technology has allowed us to fix — if we have the right tools.

How big is the problem?

The short answer? Big. 

The impact of a poor landing page experience is quantifiable, and it paints a picture of a gaping revenue hole — 14% of site revenue is lost from product detail pages alone.

If almost all consumers (98%) have landed on out-of-stock products when arriving from social channels, it goes without saying that there is lost revenue. This also creates a problem from a customer experience point of view. 

Customers are loyal to great shopping experiences, be it during the shopping process or what happens after receiving their products. A bad experience is a lost customer. In a competitive market, they’ll soon find another brand that can better serve them — with in-stock products.

Now, don’t get us wrong. The solution isn’t moving customers away from the edge, it’s about optimizing the experience. 

How can brands fix the problem?

There are a number of ways brands can optimize their promotions and inventory interactions to provide shoppers with the best possible experience.

  • Keep close to promoted products

Inventory management problems are an unfortunate part of a successful eCommerce business. Shoppers rightly expect promoted goods to be available, so keep your  inventory data for social media as close to real-time as possible. Avoid posting fast-moving, low inventory items on social, and monitor all promoted inventory stock closely.

  • If you’re going to promote, be ready to pause

If (and when) products are not available, you need to have a safety net in place to catch any promotions driving traffic to those very products. This can be done manually with routine checks on campaigns, traffic and inventory levels. You could also build an alerting system to automatically notify you when a campaign is directing traffic to out of stock products. These campaigns should be paused and surplus advertising budgets can be redirected to products that are in stock, boosting both customer experience and Return on Ad Spend. 

Watch the webinar "Social Commerce is Broken: How to Fix It" and hear more from Charles Nicholls or read our post "Shopping at The Edge - The New eCommerce Reality".

If you have any questions or feedback we would love to hear from you. Contact us here or email on: hello@simplicitydx.com

Please sign up here to receive our quarterly survey results on social commerce.

Read our other blog posts on social commerce:

Shopping at The Edge – The New eCommerce Reality

Promotions at the edge: how promotions cause eCommerce shopping experiences to break

Social Commerce for Retail?

Social Commerce and the Peak Shopping Season

SimplicityDX Publishes 2022 State of Social Commerce Impact Study

Watch the Webinar - Social Commerce is Broken: How to Fix it

Ready to Get Started?

Join our newsletter to stay up to date on social commerce and eCommerce news, as well as the latest survey data.