This is page 2 of:

Another Target Missoni Reminder: When It Comes To Out-Of-Stocks, You Can’t Win

September 21st, 2011

And when an item is nearly out of stock, a close watch on inventory doesn’t help. Customers abandon shopping carts or remove items from their carts, and there’s no way to know how long it will take for a customer to go from selecting an item to checking out. As a result, items are likely to flicker between in-stock and out-of-stock until they’re all definitely, for-certain gone.

How can you handle that? There’s the brute-force method: Wait until the customer checks out and then, if the item is truly sold-out, make the item disappear from the shopping cart. That’s one of the things some customers complained about on Missoni Tuesday.

Alternatively, you could count items out of inventory as soon as it’s in a basket. That way merchandise will appear to be out of stock sooner, but come back in-stock as customers decide to remove items from their shopping carts or simply abandon them. That way there’s no checkout-time surprises. But customers who repeatedly refresh or revisit an item’s page will see it go out of stock, then back in, then out, then in again.

Or you could try to manage those almost-out-of-stocks statistically, hoping that a certain percentage of items in shopping carts will be abandoned. That’s essentially why airlines oversell flights. That works well, doesn’t it?

Another approach is providing more information for customers while they’re shopping, warning them that some item in their cart is nearing out-of-stock status and might not be available at checkout time. That will get rid of the unpleasant surprise from evaporating items.

But it’s also likely to make customers cut their online shopping trip short, so they won’t risk losing the almost-gone item. The longer a customer stays in the store, the more likely he or she is to buy more. Rushing customers doesn’t help on that front.

Worse still, all that extra information keeps reminding customers that in an online store they don’t really have items in their shopping cart. The cart isn’t real, the merchandise isn’t real and, until it’s delivered, they can’t really trust that they’ve bought anything.

That’s exactly the opposite of the direction you want to lead customers. You want them to feel like in-store, online and mobile commerce are all pretty much the same. Anything that points up the differences isn’t something you want.

You can’t win, at least when supplies of an item are running low. They’re all problematic choices. And the irony is that the better the inventory system an online store has, the more problems those choices are bound to cause.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.