Last updated on February 28, 2022

Jessica Hulett
Content Manager, Brand @ Yotpo
November 20th, 2021 | 5 minutes read

We spoke with AVEC co-founder Dee Charlemagne about how to keep customer relationships positive when stock is low.

Every small brand dreams of the day when their products become wildly popular, but what happens when the demand exceeds the supply? Better-for-you cocktail mixer brand AVEC knows firsthand what that looks like. When bars shut down and people started drinking at home instead, AVEC’s newly launched line of full-flavored, low-calorie, and low-sugar mixers took off — and promptly sold out.

Running out of stock is tough for any brand, but for smaller, newer brands like AVEC, it can spell disaster. It can take time to build trust with customers, and when you cannot meet customer expectations as a recently launched brand, it can be difficult to establish those relationships. Lost revenue is certainly a problem, but lost customers is an even bigger one.

We spoke with AVEC co-founder Dee Charlemagne about how the brand navigated the situation, what they learned along the way, and what advice they can offer other brands going through restocking issues.

AVEC’s story

AVEC is one of first class of brands in Yotpo Grow, our accelerator program for small, Black-owned brands. Each brand is given free access to Yotpo’s entire suite of products for six months, along with a dedicated team of experts to provide technical support, share strategies and best practices, and measure success along the way.

The brand launched in 2020 with mixers made with 100% real ingredients, like blood orange, pineapple, yuzu, lemongrass, and pomelo. Successful marketing via partnerships with both spirit and non-alcoholic brands, plus positive press coverage in outlets like The New York Times, Food and Wine, and Forbes led to exponential growth for AVEC — which is what led to them running out of stock.

Because AVEC uses fresh ingredients in their mixers, the lead time to restock was quite long. That restocking period meant no new revenue and frustrated customers. The brand had to pivot quickly to find a way to engage customers when they had no products to offer them.

AVEC’s advice for brands facing restock issues

Dealing with a long restocking period meant trying to find ways to keep customers excited about the product until it was back in stock. Here are the tactics that worked for AVEC, and ones that Dee recommends for businesses dealing with similar stock issues.

Add back in stock email

The first thing AVEC did when they ran out of stock was to keep pre-orders on but not push them. They also added an email option for customers to be notified when the product was back in stock—this helped drive people back to the site.

Be human!

When it comes to dealing with frustrated customers, honesty, transparency, and authenticity go a long way. That means owning up to mistakes, admitting when you don’t have all the answers, and doing what you can to make it right. This helps to establish and build brand trust.

“We are a team of three doing what we can and we try to communicate that to our customers,” says Dee.

Focus on content

When you can’t sell a product, double down on engagement. AVEC used the downtime to re-group on their content strategy, and produced tons of new assets, like how-to videos, interviews with different founders, and new recipes. This kept customers interested while they waited for products to be back in stock.

Stay flexible

When you have supply chain issues that are out of your control, it’s important to manage customer expectations. A big lesson AVEC learned during the restocking period: don’t announce a new shipping date until you have the product.

“We had announced a restocking date before a blizzard hit — we had to delay the restocking date due to circumstances out of our control, and our customers were upset,” says Dee. “We learned not to announce restocks unless we have the product in hand.”

Diversify ways to communicate with customers

AVEC had been engaging customers regularly through Instagram, but they realized they needed to ensure there was a way to communicate with customers that weren’t just on social media. To solve the problem, they began to focus more on subscriber collection with email and SMS.

Reviews are crucial

When you’re an eCommerce beverage brand, most people can’t sample your product to decide whether or not they like it. High-quality reviews that describe the product and how it tastes are crucial for convincing a shopper to purchase. And when there’s nothing to purchase, they can help to get potential customers excited about the items they can buy when they’re back in stock.

“Not only are reviews important because it helps educate people on what our products are like but seeing how customers are talking about our products and describing our brand also helps influence and shape our own brand language,” says Dee.

Though “getting too popular” isn’t a bad problem for a brand to have overall, navigating it in the short term isn’t easy or fun. AVEC faced its supply challenge and met it head-on, using the time to innovate and deepen relationships with their customers.

How Yotpo Grow helped AVEC engage customers

As part of Yotpo Grow, AVEC’s goals included working closely with Yotpo teams to continue scaling, reaching new markets, and increasing customer loyalty. Here are some of the results they’ve seen as part of the program:

  • 19% engagement rate on customer reviews
  • $54 added revenue per redeeming loyalty customer
  • 28x ROI via SMS campaigns run once a month

Yotpo Grow helps small, Black-owned brands like AVEC navigate challenges, expand their bandwidth, and most importantly, grow their businesses.