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The choices that I can come up with are:
1. Don't ship the item until all products are in stock.
2. Ship whatever is in stock, and ship the rest when it arrives.
Now in the 2nd case when you ship a partial order, how do you handle this on the backend? Do you split the order into 2 orders or does your software keep it as a single order but just somehow keeps track of 2 shipping dates, and 2 shipping costs and 2 tracking #'s etc etc.?
To me it seems much easier to break them off into 2 seperate orders, with maybe having the 2nd order reference the original order.
As a 2nd side question, do any of you guys have a business that has over 50% of orders set as backorders? What sort of management issues arise from this kind of model?
This is a redundant feature as all of our available stock is clearly listed on the product pages. You see, people just don't like to read. :-)
Shipping of the items is managed based on their decision. The shipping dates are indeed entered per item so we know exactly what shipped when. Yeah it's a pain and we'll have to do something else if it ever gets big enough. But in that case we won't care. :-)
If this is the case you have to handle it carefully because you don't want to be accused of fraud down the line.
It is best to stay on top of out of stocks and not charge the customer for items not in stock. I mark an item out of stock and temporarily disable payment for these items right the starting point. They can put the items in their cart but the price is turned to zero $0, therefore, if there is a dispute, I have NOT taken their money and not delivered the goods.
If backordering is important to you then you can create a scheme when the item arrives you can email the customer and ask if they still want the item, then charge and ship accordingly.
I think of backordering as something large companies can do because of their sophisticated billing and shipping systems. For the every day down and dirty selling to the single consumer, I'd suggest staying away from the complexities of backorders.
I would not suggest your choice number 1 without notifying the customer and given them the option of how to proceed. If you hold back items to wait for others you are breaking the original promise to ship within a set period of time. If you are going to accept items and backorder, you have to have a system to alert the customer, ask them for their preferences and be prepared to eat additional shipping charges on your own for the second shipment.
Well, what's the default option? :)
LOL . . . #2, ship what ya got and send the rest when it comes. People do use these radio buttons, it's pretty evenly spread what they will do at this point. Overall, they want their stuff, so they select that or remove the items not in stock.
This is not a "standard," keep in mind out cart is custom programmed and this is just what we do and it works out pretty well. People are pleased with the open publication of stock.
If you ship as they become available do you charge a higher shipping fee?
To answer the first question, it's always better to consult the customer first before taking either route. Usually for multiple items, there is a primary item that the they wanted... and they may need it by a specific date.