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Responses to out-of-stocks and on-shelf availability in UK fashion retailing

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The purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes and approaches adopted by fashion retailers when presented with an out-of-stocks (OOS) issue and to measure in store on-shelf availability (OSA) of one particular fashion retailer across a sample of stores across the United Kingdom. The research was carried out in three phases. The first two phases used participants' observation/mystery shopper techniques to determine shop-floor representatives' responses to an OOS situation in the jeans category of seven retailers and then to measure the OOS/OSA of a sample of 10 stores of a middle market fashion retailer in the United Kingdom. A comparison with the electronic inventory database readings was then carried out. The final phase involved interviews with head office management to explore possible differences between headquarters (HQ) policy and store operations. The first phase of the research revealed that all retailers had processes available to them at store level to solve OSA issues, but six of the seven retailers could not solve the problem. From the in-depth survey of OSA in the sample of stores, availability was on average 79% against a database availability figure of 90%. The difference of 11% is mainly related to inventory inaccuracy. The interviews with head office management did reveal that the differences in attitudes between HQ staff and store staff could be attributed to a lack of communication to train staff adequately on processes to solve OOS issues.

Keywords: UK; fashion retailing; on-shelf availability; out-of-stocks; training

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Business Management,Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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