According to recent research by the Institute of Customer Service, stock shortages on Britain’s high street are driving frustrated customers to look elsewhere and shop online. There is also evidence to suggest that stock shortages can prevent customers from ordering with you again.

The Institute conducted research with 9,000 UK consumers exploring the impact of stock shortages on the high street. Out of one third of customers that had experienced stock shortages, over half mentioned stock shortages as their most frustrating shopping experience.

Obviously, the trade environment is a bit different, but there are definitely some parallels. As a merchant, could stock levels really have an impact on how your customer service is viewed? And, is it possible that this could really impact on your business and any return visitors? I think so.

It can be a tricky balance for merchants to manage stock levels so that there are always products available. Particularly during the recession, merchants were understandably less keen to have large stockholdings and at bcg, we saw that the traditional pattern of merchants making large orders on the first of the month changed. Orders became more spaced out over the course of the month, meaning that warehouse facilities could be smaller and merchants were less exposed by spending large amounts in one go.

As a distributor that aims to offer unbeatably great service, bcg can help merchants to manage their spending. We are renowned for excellent stock availability and next day delivery on most products. We place this at the heart of what we do, as distribution specialists, because we are aware that excellent stock availability is important for our customers, both merchants and retailers.

Speed is of the essence and so the sooner a customer can receive the order the better. We also make a massive effort to ensure that deliveries are on time and in full, so that when your customers are doing a job, they can get everything they need in one fell swoop and get the job done. “Time is money” as the old saying goes, but as with many clichés there’s a lot of truth in it. If an installer can depend on you to supply what they need, when they need it, they are a lot more likely to come back to you on a regular basis. And everyone knows that keeping existing customers is much more profitable than constantly finding new ones.

Jonathan Eyre is sales director at bcg.