One thing that cannot be overlooked on the product detail page is the inventory check. Is there adequate inventory for the customer to make their purchase and is this clearly stated? This is one of the key elements in creating an enjoyable and engaging shopping experience. There are few things more unpleasant than finding your product only to find that you can add it to your cart but can’t purchase it because it’s sold out – which is far too often indicated on the very last page of checkout. If a product is not available, you’ll want to notify the customer of that right away – and do it in a way that it’s obvious. This can be done as early as the listing pages via badges or flag notifications indicating an item as backordered, pre-sale, or out of stock.
Often overlooked until late in the build yet crucial enough that is should be decided upon early on is the treatment of out of stock product. You’ll want to determine how your brand will manage these products: are you going to pull them manually from the site? Will these products be removed from the site automatically and if so, when and how often? SEO experts tend to recommend leaving the link for the product up. Do you want to leave them on the site but make them not purchasable? Should they remain on the site and the customer can request an email to be notified when that product is back in stock? If you anticipate inventory to be returned to the product, think about how you can indicate that on the detail page.
When it comes to Back Ordered and Pre-Sale items, do you have the option to manage inventory through a threshold (if you want to oversell the product)? Will there be messaging on the product (listing and detail pages certainly, but how about accompanying the product through checkout) that will indicate clearly that this product is back ordered or pre-sale (this will eliminate a slew of customer service inquiries)? You’ll want to be sure that there are adequate reporting measures in place so that you can properly track these products if you’re going to manage them manually. If you’re not managing these products manually, the information will likely be passed into the site in bulk via the product or inventory load, depending upon your platform.
If the customer tries to add more items to their cart than are available, throw an error that states “only # are available” or update their quantify to reflect what is available (though you need to be sure they’re notified of this). If the customer tries to purchase 20 when only 15 are available, let them know before they pull out their credit card that they’re not getting their original request; this may or may not affect their purchase. By providing as much information to the customer in a way that is clear and upfront, you’re earning their trust which is a huge component to securing a following of online shoppers. Now, to ease them through the checkout flow!