Back in Stock: The Most Important SMS List Growth Tool of 2022
List Growth, Automations

Brooke Andrus

May 2, 2022

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s 2022, and at this point, we’re all pretty tired of turning lemons into lemonade. But with lingering supply chain issues that aren’t going away anytime soon—not to mention inflation, labor shortages, and other less-than-ideal economic conditions—we’re probably gonna need to keep that juicer out a little longer.

For many merchants, the lemons we keep talking about are inventory. Maintaining a predictable level of inventory has become increasingly tough. High consumer demand, increasing transportation costs, and lack of warehouse space are just a few of the factors impacting global supply chains.

And with the cost of paid digital ads skyrocketing, every click—and conversion—counts. That can make it even more frustrating to see all those support tickets from eager shoppers who are wondering when out-of-stock items will be back.

But now for some good news: Even when the “Buy Now” button is grayed out because products are out of stock, there's an opportunity to turn that anticipation into a marketing strategy. How, you ask? Give shoppers the chance to opt into Back in Stock SMS alertsand thus, grow your subscriber list and your bottom line.

Reclaim revenue lost when popular items are out of stock.

Beauty and accessories brand Shop Miss A offers hundreds of different products, and they tend to sell out quickly. Rather than leaving a potential customer disappointed when they discover that a particular item is sold out, Miss A asks them if they’d like to be notified when the item is available for purchase again.

Historically, the store has used Shopify’s native back-in-stock email capabilities to provide this option. But once they found out Postscript allowed them to deliver Back in Stock messages via text, they enabled the feature immediately. “Personally as a customer, I would prefer to sign up for a text alert more than an email,” said Jean Baik, Co-Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer at Shop Miss A, in this Postscript case study.

The numbers support that preference: In just 30 days, Back in Stock opt-ins became Shop Miss A’s third-largest SMS subscriber acquisition source—behind their main opt-in form and subscription keyword.

“I love that, instead of losing that shopper because the item is out of stock, we’re able to convert them into a subscriber,” Baik said.

When a shopper views an out-of-stock product, they see a CTA button immediately below the “Sold Out” message as well as a CTA tab on the right side of the screen.

When a shopper views an out-of-stock product, they see a CTA button immediately below the “Sold Out” message as well as a CTA tab on the right side of the screen.

After clicking the CTA button or tab, the shopper will land on this popup, where they can enter their phone number to sign up for a text alert when the item is restocked.

After clicking the CTA button or tab, the shopper will land on this popup, where they can enter their phone number to sign up for a text alert when the item is restocked.

But the conversion doesn’t stop there. The immediacy of the SMS channel—combined with the high-intent nature of a shopper who has navigated to a particular product and discovered that it’s sold out—has led to impressive revenue results as well.

In fact, Shop Miss A’s Back in Stock texts drove 55% more revenue than the emails they used previously. Whereas they saw an average EPM (earnings per message) of $1.64 on the email version of this messaging, their SMS Back in Stock texts generated $2.55 on average.

If you’re feeling the squeeze of inventory shortages and delays, this is one strategy you absolutely must enable this year. You’ll not only pad your revenue in the short term, but also set your shop up for greater success in the long term as other promotion channels—namely, paid advertising—become less effective. And that brings us to our next point.

Drive sales now while investing in a fully owned channel for the future.

Privacy regulations will only get more stringent from here on out. Trust us when we say iOS 15 is just the beginning.

As a result, it’s getting harder—and more expensive—to target potential customers using third-party data (e.g., through retargeting ads). At the same time, inbox fatigue has made email marketing much less effective than it used to be. Across all industries, the average email open rate is 19.8% (according to the latest report from Constant Contact). That’s a stark contrast to the 99% average open rate brands achieve with SMS.

So while your chances of reclaiming lost sales opportunities via ad or email will continue to dwindle, Back in Stock text notifications hold a lot of promise in the months and years ahead.

But the benefit extends well beyond the initial reclaimed sale, because if you’re able to retain that subscriber, then you have the opportunity to realize the full lifetime value of their subscription. And the more transactions you generate through owned channels, the more predictable your marketing costs will be—and the greater your return on investment.

That means less dependency on the rapidly changing paid digital advertising environment. If you think about it, with Back in Stock, your current inventory issues could actually benefit your brand in the long term, as you have a unique opportunity to grow your SMS subscriber base in an organic, authentic way. Now that’s some lemonade worth drinking!

Create better customer experiences.

Perhaps the best thing about Back in Stock opt-ins is that they clearly benefit the customer. Other acquisition strategies often require a subscriber incentive—like a discount—to entice opt-ins. But with Back in Stock, the incentive is already built in.

Instead of trading their phone number for a discount, shoppers are trading it for beneficial information that only you can provide. And when you deliver on your promise to provide it, boom—you’ve created an excellent customer experience before a sale even happens.

While the customer might have felt a twinge of initial disappointment when they were unable to purchase the item they wanted, Back in Stock gives you the means to flip a brand-perception 180 and build an even stronger bond of trust than you would have in the first place.

Turn customers into brand evangelists.

Plus, once a customer actually does purchase, you have a direct line to them to make sure their experience with your product is top-notch. You can follow up with helpful tips, ask if they have any questions, recommend complementary products, request reviews and UGC (user-generated content)—the options for keeping the conversation going are endless.

And all that engagement means not only building brand loyalists (i.e., customers who will purchase from you again), but also creating brand evangelists (i.e., customers who will drive purchases from others). It’s the lemonade that keeps on giving (or something like that).

The best part about using a Back in Stock automation is that Postscript makes it incredibly easy. Simply follow the steps outlined here to enable collection and set up your follow-up messaging. Then, set it and forget it—and watch the subscribers and sales roll in.

Brooke Andrus

Brooke Andrus

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Brooke Andrus is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript. A journalist by trade, Brooke now uses her nose for news to keep ecommerce merchants informed on industry trends and business best practices.