Examples: 'Out of stock' messages on e-commerce sites

19 May 2009 - 5:04am
5 years ago
11 replies
4927 reads
Julian McCrea
2007

Hey guys and gals,

Has anyone seen any good examples of out of stock messages on e-commerce
sites?

What I am looking for are examples which show a company to have:

1) The right tone i.e. honest, apologetic, encouraging etc

2) The right time to deliver the message in the userflow i.e. is it best
represented on the product page, as opposed to at the basket.

Thanks in advance,

Julian McCrea
User Experience Architect

GT
The Griffin Building
83 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5AR

switchboard: +44 (0)20 7343 3700
mobile: +44 (0)7965 458 585
fax: +44 (0)20 7343 3701

We're recruiting!
Visit: http://www.wearegt.com <blocked::http://www.goodtechnology.com/>

thinking human

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Comments

19 May 2009 - 8:28am
Steve Baty
2009

Julian,

The point I would make is that customers don't really care whether the item
is in stock or not. They're interested in how quickly they can receive the
product. So focus your messages around that part of the experience.

Tell them if a product has been discontinued and you can no longer supply
it. Tell them if a product has been superseded and let them know what the
replacement product will be.

Otherwise, tell them how quickly you can deliver it, from today, if they
order it now. Don't bother them with why it takes that long, unless they
show an interest in the details (so make sure the details are handy). And if
there are different delivery options that will get the product to them
sooner (or take longer) - let them know that as well.

Amazon does a good job of communicating this information to customers.
They're not alone, though.

Hope that helps.

Steve

2009/5/19 Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>

> Hey guys and gals,
>
>
>
> Has anyone seen any good examples of out of stock messages on e-commerce
> sites?
>
>
>
> What I am looking for are examples which show a company to have:
>
>
>
> 1) The right tone i.e. honest, apologetic, encouraging etc
>
> 2) The right time to deliver the message in the userflow i.e. is it best
> represented on the product page, as opposed to at the basket.
>
>
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> Julian McCrea
> User Experience Architect
>
> GT
> The Griffin Building
> 83 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5AR
>
>
> switchboard: +44 (0)20 7343 3700
> mobile: +44 (0)7965 458 585
> fax: +44 (0)20 7343 3701
>
> We're recruiting!
> Visit: http://www.wearegt.com <blocked::http://www.goodtechnology.com/>
>
> thinking human
>
>
>
>
>
>
> <font face="arial" size="-1">The information contained within this email is
> confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
> whom it is addressed.
> If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, distribution
> or other use of, or reliance upon, this information is strictly
> prohibited. If you received this email in error, please notify the sender
> by replying to this message and then delete it from your system. Thank you.
>
> Please advise immediately if you or your employer does not consent to email
> for messages of this kind. Opinions, conclusions and other information
> in this message that do not relate to the official business of the WPP
> Group shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it. GT
> and its employees conduct business in accordance with the WPP Code of
> Business Conduct and Corporate Responsibility Policy; these can
> be found on www.wpp.com.
>
> This email originated from GT London Ltd, company registration number
> 2974377 (registered in the UK).
> Registered Office: The Griffin Building, 83 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R
> 5AR. VAT No: GB 649885074
>
> GT is a member of IPA and IAB.</font>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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--
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stevebaty at meld.com.au | Twitter: docbaty | Skype: steve_baty | LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/stevebaty

Director, IxDA - ixda.org
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19 May 2009 - 8:33am
Amy Silvers
2007

More important than the wording of the message, I think, is what
options the site provides at the point of notification. Suggesting
alternative products is good; letting users enter an e-mail address
so they can be notified when the item is back in stock is even
better. If that's not feasible, at least providing an estimate of
how soon the item might be back in stock is also good practice.

Amazon handles low stock and out of stock messages reasonably well.
You'll often see "Only 2 left (more coming soon)" on a product
detail page for a low-stock item there, and they do a good job of
distinguishing between items that are out of stock but expected back,
those that have been discontinued, and those of uncertain status--"We
don't know when or if this item will be available again."

Whenever possible, IMO, out of stock notification should occur at the
item level, before the user can add the item to the cart. Adding
something to the cart implies that you'll be able to purchase it,
and when you suddenly learn at checkout that something isn't
available, it's very frustrating. An e-commerce site that I used to
work for didn't display out of stock notifications until the cart
page, and we received daily complaints about this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42113

19 May 2009 - 9:37am
robenslin
2008

Hi Julian,
Fatface does well to communicate this IMO. They use:
- simple icons (tick=yes & cross=no/out-of-stock) and
- states (active/clickable=add to cart & non-active/not
clickable=out-of-stock)

Here's an example of a page where size '2-4' is available and other sizes
not:
http://www.fatface.com/Accessories/CORVO-EMBROIDERED-BELT/invt/22996

Cheers,

-- Rob

2009/5/19 Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>

> Hey guys and gals,
>
>
>
> Has anyone seen any good examples of out of stock messages on e-commerce
> sites?
>
>
>
> What I am looking for are examples which show a company to have:
>
>
>
> 1) The right tone i.e. honest, apologetic, encouraging etc
>
> 2) The right time to deliver the message in the userflow i.e. is it best
> represented on the product page, as opposed to at the basket.
>
>
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> Julian McCrea
> User Experience Architect
>
> GT
> The Griffin Building
> 83 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5AR
>
>
> switchboard: +44 (0)20 7343 3700
> mobile: +44 (0)7965 458 585
> fax: +44 (0)20 7343 3701
>
> We're recruiting!
> Visit: http://www.wearegt.com <blocked::http://www.goodtechnology.com/>
>
> thinking human
>
>
>
>
>
>
> <font face="arial" size="-1">The information contained within this email is
> confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
> whom it is addressed.
> If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, distribution
> or other use of, or reliance upon, this information is strictly
> prohibited. If you received this email in error, please notify the sender
> by replying to this message and then delete it from your system. Thank you.
>
> Please advise immediately if you or your employer does not consent to email
> for messages of this kind. Opinions, conclusions and other information
> in this message that do not relate to the official business of the WPP
> Group shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it. GT
> and its employees conduct business in accordance with the WPP Code of
> Business Conduct and Corporate Responsibility Policy; these can
> be found on www.wpp.com.
>
> This email originated from GT London Ltd, company registration number
> 2974377 (registered in the UK).
> Registered Office: The Griffin Building, 83 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R
> 5AR. VAT No: GB 649885074
>
> GT is a member of IPA and IAB.</font>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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--
/ Rob Enslin
/ robenslin.com
/ twitter.com/robenslin
/ +44759 052 8890

19 May 2009 - 1:21pm
Anonymous

I would suggest only presenting status information (out of stock) to
the user if it's necessary to manage expectations. If the user sees
the item on your site they will assume it's in. Might not hurt to
mention quantity available as mentioned above.

If the item is out of stock I suggest presenting that information to
users at the item level unless one wants to anger potential
customers. Down the same line of thought, if an item is out of stock
I would still provide a number of options to complete the purchase,
making sure I detail out when they should expect the merchandise.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42113

19 May 2009 - 1:50pm
Marcy Jacobs
2005

bodenusa.com also has a nice interface and shows available, out of stock and sold out in a size grid.

example: http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Womens-Swimwear/Swimsuits/AK139/Womens-Boyleg-Swimsuit.html

Best,
Marcy

________________________________
From: Rob Enslin <robenslin at gmail.com>
To: Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:37:17 AM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples: 'Out of stock' messages on e-commerce sites

Hi Julian,
Fatface does well to communicate this IMO. They use:
- simple icons (tick=yes & cross=no/out-of-stock) and
- states (active/clickable=add to cart & non-active/not
clickable=out-of-stock)

Here's an example of a page where size '2-4' is available and other sizes
not:
http://www.fatface.com/Accessories/CORVO-EMBROIDERED-BELT/invt/22996

Cheers,

-- Rob

2009/5/19 Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>

> Hey guys and gals,
>
>
>
> Has anyone seen any good examples of out of stock messages on e-commerce
> sites?
>
>
>
> What I am looking for are examples which show a company to have:
>
>
>
> 1) The right tone i.e. honest, apologetic, encouraging etc
>
> 2) The right time to deliver the message in the userflow i.e. is it best
> represented on the product page, as opposed to at the basket.
>
>
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> Julian McCrea
> User Experience Architect
>
> GT
> The Griffin Building
> 83 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5AR
>
>
> switchboard: +44 (0)20 7343 3700
> mobile: +44 (0)7965 458 585
> fax: +44 (0)20 7343 3701
>
> We're recruiting!
> Visit: http://www.wearegt.com <blocked::http://www.goodtechnology.com/>
>
> thinking human
>
>
>
>
>
>
> <font face="arial" size="-1">The information contained within this email is
> confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
> whom it is addressed.
> If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, distribution
> or other use of, or reliance upon, this information is strictly
> prohibited.  If you received this email in error, please notify the sender
> by replying to this message and then delete it from your system. Thank you.
>
> Please advise immediately if you or your employer does not consent to email
> for messages of this kind.  Opinions, conclusions and other information
> in this message that do not relate to the official business of the WPP
> Group shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it. GT
> and its employees conduct business in accordance with the WPP Code of
> Business Conduct and Corporate Responsibility Policy; these can
> be found on www.wpp.com.
>
> This email originated from GT London Ltd, company registration number
> 2974377 (registered in the UK).
> Registered Office:  The Griffin Building, 83 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R
> 5AR. VAT No:  GB 649885074
>
> GT is a member of IPA and IAB.</font>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
/ Rob Enslin
/ robenslin.com
/ twitter.com/robenslin
/ +44759 052 8890
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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19 May 2009 - 3:45pm
Angel Marquez
2008

Do you think those figures are accurate to the current inventory (pretty
much if something isn't discontinued it is always going to be in stock and
shipped within the same amount of time from anywhere)?
Have you ever bought something that was in the glass case that had that
unique one of a kind or last one on the shelf appeal just to return and find
the exact same thing on display or in abundance of stock?

You think this brick and mortar ploy has been factored into the eCom store
front? I'm sure it would be far more effective with your store behavior data
driving the front end/impulse buy.

2 cents. ..

19 May 2009 - 3:47pm
Angel Marquez
2008

+I think the out of stock notification would be useful for an admin to CMS
that was stocking in store shelfs. Serves no purpose for a eCustomer other
than...

On Tue, May 19, 2009 at 1:45 PM, Angel Marquez <angel.marquez at gmail.com>wrote:

> Do you think those figures are accurate to the current inventory (pretty
> much if something isn't discontinued it is always going to be in stock and
> shipped within the same amount of time from anywhere)?
> Have you ever bought something that was in the glass case that had that
> unique one of a kind or last one on the shelf appeal just to return and find
> the exact same thing on display or in abundance of stock?
>
> You think this brick and mortar ploy has been factored into the eCom store
> front? I'm sure it would be far more effective with your store behavior data
> driving the front end/impulse buy.
>
> 2 cents. ..
>

20 May 2009 - 5:42am
martinpolley
2007

Hi Julian,

Some people have suggested providing this info at the item level. Some sites
push it even further up by showing it in search results. For example,
toysrus.co.uk does this, and orders the search results so that in-stock
items are at the top of the results list, while out-of-stock items are at
the bottom. Which is rather nice, I think.

Cheers,

Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

On Tue, May 19, 2009 at 1:04 PM, Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>wrote:

> Hey guys and gals,
>
>
>
> Has anyone seen any good examples of out of stock messages on e-commerce
> sites?
>
>
>
> What I am looking for are examples which show a company to have:
>
>
>
> 1) The right tone i.e. honest, apologetic, encouraging etc
>
> 2) The right time to deliver the message in the userflow i.e. is it best
> represented on the product page, as opposed to at the basket.
>
>
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> Julian McCrea
> User Experience Architect
>
> GT
> The Griffin Building
> 83 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5AR
>
>
> switchboard: +44 (0)20 7343 3700
> mobile: +44 (0)7965 458 585
> fax: +44 (0)20 7343 3701
>
> We're recruiting!
> Visit: http://www.wearegt.com <blocked::http://www.goodtechnology.com/>
>
> thinking human
>
>
>
>
>
>
> <font face="arial" size="-1">The information contained within this email is
> confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to
> whom it is addressed.
> If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, distribution
> or other use of, or reliance upon, this information is strictly
> prohibited. If you received this email in error, please notify the sender
> by replying to this message and then delete it from your system. Thank you.
>
> Please advise immediately if you or your employer does not consent to email
> for messages of this kind. Opinions, conclusions and other information
> in this message that do not relate to the official business of the WPP
> Group shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it. GT
> and its employees conduct business in accordance with the WPP Code of
> Business Conduct and Corporate Responsibility Policy; these can
> be found on www.wpp.com.
>
> This email originated from GT London Ltd, company registration number
> 2974377 (registered in the UK).
> Registered Office: The Griffin Building, 83 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R
> 5AR. VAT No: GB 649885074
>
> GT is a member of IPA and IAB.</font>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 May 2009 - 8:56am
Anonymous

Hello,
I was quite impressed with Marks & Spencers the other day: they show
availability on the product description page, see:
http://tinyurl.com/r2dfeh (of course, now that I want one I can't
find an out of stock product!).
Also, if they don't have your size, you see the option of "Email me
when available" which I think is really handy and avoids the
frustration of just having found just what you are looking for and
then seeing they don't have any in stock!
I think the tone they use is matter-of-factual, trying to help you
out rather than apologise, - no need to waste the user's time.

The Amazon "Only 2 left" that Amy mentioned is also a really good
way to encourage people to "buy now!!" without being quite so
blatant.

If a product had been discontinued, I would either take it off the
website altogether or, if was really famous for some reason and still
attracted traffic, (classic designs, how the company got started etc),
separate it from the online shopping section, there's usually too
much information to process at the best of times, without having to
filter out products that will never be available, - overwhelming,
time-consuming AND disappointing!!

Regards,
Elizabeth

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42113

20 May 2009 - 3:55pm
Steve Baty
2009

Just to clarify, and I know I wasn't clear first time around so: my
apologies.

The reason for retaining discontinued or superseded products is that a
returning customer - who's initiated product research, but hasn't yet made a
purchase - will be frustrated by the disappearance of the product if it
isn't explained. The product can also act as a gateway to other support
materials about the product - how to get the product serviced; access to
instruction manuals; other downloads; accessories - and as such can be a
useful navigational device to keep around.

However, you want the product's status to be clearly indicated as
discontinued or superseded so that customers are aware of their options in
relation to purchasing the product.

Regards
Steve

2009/5/20 elizabeth

> If a product had been discontinued, I would either take it off the
> website altogether or, if was really famous for some reason and still
> attracted traffic, (classic designs, how the company got started etc),
> separate it from the online shopping section, there's usually too
> much information to process at the best of times, without having to
> filter out products that will never be available, - overwhelming,
> time-consuming AND disappointing!!
>

--
Steve 'Doc' Baty | Principal | Meld Consulting | P: +61 417 061 292 | E:
stevebaty at meld.com.au | Twitter: docbaty | Skype: steve_baty | LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/stevebaty

Director, IxDA - ixda.org
Editor: Johnny Holland - johnnyholland.org
Contributor: UXMatters - www.uxmatters.com
UX Australia: 26-28 August, http://uxaustralia.com.au
UX Book Club: http://uxbookclub.org/ - Read, discuss, connect.
Blog: http://meld.com.au/blog

20 May 2009 - 5:18pm
Sam Murray-Sutton
2009

I think the biggest crime any site can commit, especially ecommerce,
is unnecessary time wasting. People need to know as soon as possible
if they can't buy something. On the other hand, you still want them
to know you stock it, and that it's likely to only be temporarily
unavailable.

So include it in search results, but let people know before they get
to the product detail page.

Some visitors will come directly to a product detail page however, so
you need to tell them there as well.

In many cases, if you're out of stock when the person is ready to
buy, you'll lose the customer, so some kind of notification system
will help if you have the time to implement this. That said, I would
be interested to see how such a thing would play out in the real
world. People might be grateful for being notified, or would they
could, forget they've filled it in then get an email a week later
when they are not interested in buying the product, and end up
annoyed at you. I guess it would all depend on products, how you
address them etc. Something for testing perhaps...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42113

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