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Show Both In-Stock & Backorder Products?
olimits7




msg:3882480
 3:25 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I'm currently listing both in-stock and backorder products on my website. I was wondering do you list backorder products on your website, or just show in-stock products only?

On the PRO side of listing backorders:
It brings new customers to the website because I'm offering more products and these backorder products are usually rare/not high in demand products; so not that many websites sell them.

And since they know about the website now because of these backorders; I'm hoping they will return to purchase again in the future.

On the CON side of listing backorders:
I have to backorder these products from my vendor, and since they are rare/not high in demand products it can take up to 4 weeks to arrive. And sometimes my vendor can't get these products at all; so I have to cancel their order.

I state the following on my website regarding backorders:
Backorders can take up to 4 weeks to arrive, and if it takes longer than 4 weeks their order will automatically be canceled. They also have the option to cancel the backorder anytime they want as long as the order is not processing.

I have to use more of my resources to handle backorders because if my vendor can't get the product I feel obligated to email my customer and tell them that we have canceled their order; even though the message on my website says their order will automatically be canceled after 4 weeks.

And most of the time the customer emails me anyway regarding their backorder even though I have the message above stated on my website.

Do you guys think that I should email them and let them know their order was canceled; even though I state that their order will automatically cancel after 4 weeks?

Thank you,

olimits7

 

sun818




msg:3882538
 4:24 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

First rule of communication is to get the person's attention. There may an issue in how you present your information. Also, buyers do not always read so it is important to repeat your desired message in e-mail and during the checkout flow. A combination of the two, I think, I will get your message across reducing incoming e-mails.

Answering questions regarding backorders can take up resources, so if you can figure out ways anticipating buyer needs, it'll save you time. For example:

1) Can you automate order cancellation through the order history page?

2) Can you provide accurate restock estimate dates? Is it 1 week away or 4 weeks away? Can you tie in with your supplier database or your purchase order system? When you put a purchase order in, historically, how long has the supplier taken to fill the order?

Whether you want to accept backorders is up to you. I would definitely keep the page up for SEO reasons. If a product is permanently discontinued, its debatable whether you should keep up. You can always put AdSense on it or figure out another way to monetize the page.

HugeNerd




msg:3882571
 5:02 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have to use more of my resources to handle backorders because if my vendor can't get the product I feel obligated to email my customer and tell them that we have canceled their order; even though the message on my website says their order will automatically be canceled after 4 weeks.

First, BRAVO! on the excellent customer service. I, at least, would appreciate the extra notice. Personally, I tried doing the 'email the customer when not in stock and provide a lead time' deal. I quit after about 4 months...I noticed that half of the customers were never even reading the email and contacted us when they didn't receive their product and the other half simply didn't notice/care about the delay anyway! I simply gave up. During the experiment, my BizRate, BBB, Yelp! etc. ratings never changed...not one iota...and there was no change again when I quit. No one seemed to notice or care...could just be my industry.

IMHO, always show every single product, unless discontinued and completely unavailable. I subscribe to the theory of long-tail sales -- if you leave an item up on the web long enough, someone will always purchase it, eventually. Look at iTunes -- they put everything they can get the rights to for sale and assume someone will eventually buy it. Granted, this may not be as sound a business proposition if putting new products up is a time consuming hassle or if you can't leave SKUs in your db but keep them from being live (I have mine set so that if it's really a problem, I can leave the product and SKU live but have the Buy Now button simply show a "Call for Availability" tag...if they call, that's bound to be a sale as they are interested and I get a chance to communicate in real time...).

My vote: Always show everything, even if not in stock. At least they know you carry it, then.

olimits7




msg:3882678
 7:53 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi,

Thanks for your quick replies and suggestions!

Yes, I state this as much as I can on the website, but as you know customers seem to not read anything. I could put this in bold red font size 20 and in the middle of the screen, and I think I would still get questions about this...haha.

I don't mind sending the emails to let my customers know about their backorders, but this is getting harder and harder to do. Since I'm just starting out; I'm a one-man-band and with updating the website, filling orders, contacting wholesalers, etc...I don't want to add anything else on my plate since I'm so busy already.

I hear where your coming from HugeNerd; I've noticed the same thing thing too. I will email a customer and never get a response back, but then 2 weeks later I would finally receive a response from them asking about their order and I have to repeat myself again. I tell them I contacted them 2 weeks ago, but never received a response from them.

That's why I feel like I'm wasting my time even emailing customers to let them know I canceled their order because it has been over 4 weeks.

olimits7

olimits7




msg:3882681
 7:58 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I was thinking...maybe I should state the following:

NO cancellation emails will be sent for backorder products. If after 4 weeks, you still haven't received your backorder; this means your backorder couldn't be filled and has been canceled! Thank you!

Do you think this would work?

sun818




msg:3882705
 8:39 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you write an e-mail reply, that does not mean the e-mail was received. Even if it was received, it does not mean it landed in the inbox. Even if it landed in the inbox, it does not mean it was read. If it was read, it not mean the buyer comprehended what you wrote.

HugeNerd




msg:3883974
 2:13 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do you think this would work?

Yes'n'no.
Yes: Some will read it and understand and figure out that you have cancelled their order. Most won't.
No: I think you'll lose orders simply by having the words "order cancelled" next to a product description -- just my 2 cents on human psychology there.

If you want to send email communications about backorders and cancellations, I'd write a single, blanket email. I'd state something about,
"This is a general form email meant simply to inform you of a backorder. If the backordered product is not available from the manufacturer, your order will be cancelled. If you would like specific information regarding your order and its status, please contact us by calling 1-800-Example or email us at Info@Example.com. Thank you"

Short, sweet, directly to the point and with no specific information -- no more than 30 seconds for you to push the pre-written email out after pasting their email address into the "To:" field.

You could also just cut the backorder email out and simply send an email for the cancellation. Not as customer service oriented, but just as effective. Those who pay attention will definitely contact you to find out the status of their order after a week or two. Those who don't contact you either forgot or don't mind the wait and probably won't respond to the cancellation email...

olimits7




msg:3884842
 2:35 pm on Apr 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I think you'll lose orders simply by having the words "order cancelled" next to a product description -- just my 2 cents on human psychology there.

I don't understand this part; so you are saying that if I include the words "order cancelled" in my cancellation email I will lose future orders from this customer? So I should try to avoid using "orders cancelled" in my cancellation emails?

"This is a general form email meant simply to inform you of a backorder. If the backordered product is not available from the manufacturer, your order will be cancelled. If you would like specific information regarding your order and its status, please contact us by calling 1-800-Example or email us at Info@Example.com. Thank you"

This is a great idea! Maybe I can even include this text in my automatic order confirmation email; this way I don't have to manually send this out to my customers. I'm guessing having this text would be fine in the auto order confirmation email?

You could also just cut the backorder email out and simply send an email for the cancellation. Not as customer service oriented, but just as effective.

So by this you mean just send an email saying that there order has been cancelled? But based on what you said previously I shouldn't use the exact words "order cancelled" in the email.

Thank you,

olimits7

Conard




msg:3884886
 3:19 pm on Apr 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

I did this same dance many years ago and found the best solution for us was to "show" stock and "out of stock" items but only allow the purchase of stock items.
I also added an option to be notified when any out of stock item became available for purchase.

The whole system is automated by the inventory tracking plug-in so there is no manual entry required other than updating the inventory.

HugeNerd




msg:3884955
 4:51 pm on Apr 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

olimits 7, sorry for the confusion. I can definitely clarify. When I read:
I was thinking...maybe I should state the following:
NO cancellation emails will be sent for backorder products. If after 4 weeks, you still haven't received your backorder; this means your backorder couldn't be filled and has been canceled! Thank you!

I thought you were writing that as part of the product description for currently backordered items, not as part of a backorder notification email. I was warning against using the words during the order process or product description. I personally just have a problem with the words "Order Cancelled" anywhere near the "Order Now" button...just don't think it'd sit right with me. Put whatever you want in the cancellation email...I use those words right in the subject line of my cancellation emails! Sorry for not being more clear!

olimits7




msg:3884994
 6:06 pm on Apr 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Conard, that's a good idea on handling backorders too...thanks.

So I can have an option where instead of seeing a "Buy Now" button the customer will have an email address textbox where they can enter their email and be notified once the product comes in.

This is good because I know the customer is interested in the product, and I can go ahead and place the backorder for this product. And since the customer didn't submit an order; I don't have to worry about sending out emails and notifying the customer about anything. Only when the product comes in will the automated notification email be sent out.

And if my wholesaler can't get the backorder then the automated notification email would never send out which is fine because an order wasn't submitted. :-)

This is also helps in buying inventory in products you know your customers are interested in.

HugeNerd, no worries...I should have specified better that this was for an email reply! :-D

Thank you,

olimits7

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