Q&A: On Shelf Availability Terms, Definitions and Differences

In the CPG industry there are a handful of terms pertaining to issues around on-shelf availability and unfortunately, some terms are used incorrectly causing confusion. To help keep everyone aligned we’ve defined each term and added a graphic outlining the key differences of each on-shelf availability issue below.


On Shelf Availability (OSA)

On-Shelf Availability is the availability of products for sale to a shopper, in the place they expect it and at the time they want to buy it. It is impacted by a host of different factors such as voids, phantom inventory, and others all along the supply chain.


Out-Of-Stocks (OOS)

Out-of-Stocks occur when a product is temporarily oversold and unavailable in a retail store. In wholesaling, it is a customer service standard used and measured as a percentage of orders placed that cannot be filled. This factor is the most common at retail grocers and easy for a rep to identify at the shelf.


Phantom Inventory (PI)

Similar to an Out-Of -Stock, phantom inventory can occur when an item is out of stock but the inventory accounting system still shows items on hand, this happens due to spoilage, theft or damaged goods.  Unlike an out-of-stock since the POS system has non-existent inventory on hand the order must be manually placed by the rep or first zeroed out by the store manager otherwise the facing will remain empty.


Product Voids (PV)

Product voids occur when the SKU is authorized for the store but there’s no tag located on the shelf and there’s no inventory on hand (Also known as ABNOS:  Authorized but not on the shelf). Additionally, the SKU may have been authorized at the headquarter level but not at an individual store level for a number of reasons such as limited space, category assortment, or shopper demographics.

Product voids can be difficult to identify for field reps as grocers want to keep their shelves stocked and if there’s no SKU for the employee to reference that void will be replaced with another item.  If the field rep does not verify the authorized distribution list on their store call then that item will remain out of distribution disrupting the supply chain.


On-Shelf Availability Chart 

OSA Out of Stock Phantom Invenotry Product Voids Chart v2

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies understands the power of innovation but also its limitations. Attending Salve Regina in New England, starting his career in Silicon Valley, and now living in Austin, Texas; Seth provides a unique tech perspective to a complex CPG and Retail Grocery Industry that is in constant disruption.