Strategy Why Every Retailer Needs a Smart Replenishment Strategy

By Lema Kikuchi

What it takes to present your customers with an offer they can’t refuse (and why it’s easier than you think)

 

Have you ever ordered something like groceries or toiletries online only to get a reminder from the retailer to re-stock on those same items mere days after receiving your order?

It’s happened to me, and the situation was laughable to say the least. You see, I ordered a bulk-size package of raisins (I know what you’re thinking, raisins, really? Yes, I eat them in my oatmeal… can we move on now?), which should last me at least six months. Yet two days after I received my order, I got an email from the site asking if I was running low. How quickly could the retailer possibly think I would go through a 4.5 pound box of raisins?

That retailer was Boxed, who has since rolled out what it’s calling “Smart StockUp,” a technology that uses Machine Learning to predict when customers are most likely to need a refill, so I think it’s safe to say they’ve taken a big step forward.

But what if you don’t have a data science team like Boxed does that can toil away until they get it right (because getting it right isn’t easy)? How can you not only avoid the negatives of a scenario in which you offer replenishment far too soon but also reap the rewards of offering replenishment at just the right time?

Enter predictive technology for the masses.

 

Re-thinking the Replenishment Status Quo

If you have replenishable products in your catalog and you run post-purchase campaigns to remind customers to re-stock, you probably use arbitrary rules to target people who bought 30 or 60 days ago. But we all know that model is flawed because everyone goes through products at different rates. The answer lies in predictive technology.

A predictive model focused on replenishment can solve that problem by making it magically easy to send personalized reminders based on each customer’s unique buying cadence. It does this by:

  1. Identifying all of the replenishable products and product categories within your catalog
  2. Surfacing unique buying cadences for each individual customer that has purchased those products so that your team can remind them to re-stock at exactly the right time

Let’s break this down a bit more.

 

Step #1: Identifying Replenishable Products

In order to run a proper replenishment campaign, you first need to know which products in your catalog are replenishable. In some cases this might be obvious, but in other cases it might not be.

A replenishment model that uses predictive technology should be able to intelligently identify all replenishable products (even the surprising ones) by reviewing which products customers purchased repeatedly within a given timeframe.

Why does it matter? By uncovering new replenishable products and product categories, this automatic identification helps broaden the number of customers you can reach and increase the frequency with which you can engage them with relevant content. In doing so, it should lead to increased revenue.

 

Step #2: Sending Replenishment Offers at the Right Time

Once you know which products in your catalog are replenishable, you obviously want to encourage customers to buy those products from you again and again. But this is where things get tricky, because you need to hit them at just the right time. If you hit them too early, they won’t buy and they might even be turned off by a lack of personalization. But if you hit them too late, they’ve probably already bought from someone else and you’ve lost their business.

If you can proactively (and automatically through a triggered email) message individual customers at the optimal time to encourage them to re-stock, you can make your emails more relevant and timely. In turn, this relevance and timeliness should make re-stocking a no-brainer, therefore increasing metrics like opens, clicks, conversions and revenue per email.

Not only should this timeliness make re-stocking a no-brainer, but it should also help build loyalty among customers by making re-stocking as convenient as possible and illustrating how well you know them.

 

Does Getting Your Replenishment Model Right Really Matter?

The bottom line? Getting your replenishment model right matters a lot. For example, it can help turn one-time buyers into repeat buyers and strengthen loyalty among repeat buyers. In doing so, it can also help increase the lifetime value of those customers. And who doesn’t want that?

Of course, the data says it all: Here at Bluecore, we’ve seen retailers who use predictive technology in this way increase conversion rates by as much as 90% and increase revenue per email by as much as 59% on replenishable products.

Now it’s just a matter of making those emails as effective as possible! Check out our Triggered Email Template Design Lookbook for tips and inspiration.

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