Walgreen’s Out of Stocks Sending Customers Out of Stores?

Since Walgreens rolled out its Balance Rewards loyalty program last year, 68 million shoppers have signed up, in part so they could get sale prices on razors, mouthwash, snacks, allergy medicine, dish soap and all of the other things they count on Walgreens for.

But a new report, Off Balance, indicates that Balance Rewards members are finding empty shelves instead of the items advertised in Walgreen’s circular, its app and online.

The report’s researchers made 600 trips to Walgreens stores across the country and found that 76 percent of Walgreens locations were consistently missing inventory. Over 20 percent were repeatedly missing three or more sale items out of a basket of food, over-the-counter medicine, personal care and household products advertised in that week’s store circular.

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Walgreen did not deliver across markets for several items.  For example, a store-brand feminine hygiene product was out of stock during 73 percent of visits, and a NyQuil/DayQuil combo pack was out of stock during 26 percent of trips.

Out-of-stock sale products hurt consumers.  Outages cause shoppers to spend either more time or money to get the items they need, and many shoppers don’t have time or money to spare.

Missing items are bad for Walgreen too. The company’s non-prescription sales have been slumping for over a year. It’s hard to shop at a store when they don’t have what you’re looking for, and persistent out-of-stock issues damage shoppers’ trust in a company.

How many times will customers be burned by out of stocks before losing faith in the loyalty program?  Only time will tell, but recent articles about Walmart claim that out of stocks are sending customers out of the store and undermining loyalty.  What do you think?