How Newegg and Amazon deal with items they can’t keep in stock

TomShopify0 Comments

When I was in college, I built a computer for the first (and last) time. Back then it was almost a rite of passage to build your own PC.

I picked all the parts out to optimize for the best gaming experience possible. Let’s be honest, this computer’s primary purpose was to be able to play the latest games. College assignments came second.

Fast forward to today – my son (who’s 10) is getting more into playing computer games. Our current Macs just aren’t cutting it. You see, all the “best” computer games are Windows-only.

So I decided I’d look into building a Windows gaming PC to save a bit of cash. And that’s when I discovered this awful truth:

Computer graphics cards are incredibly hard to come by due to bitcoin miners buying them all up.

Apparently the same graphics cards used for playing the latest computer games are perfect for mining bitcoins. Bitcoin mining is so popular that most stores can’t keep certain graphics cards in stock.

Source: https://twitter.com/CORSAIR

This has also caused graphics card prices to increase dramatically. This is especially true in the aftermarket where some cards are being sold for more than double their retail value.

In today’s post, I’d like to share how Newegg and Amazon deal with popular items, such as graphics cards, that they can’t keep in stock. This includes:

  • Showing similar items
  • Back in stock notifications
  • Offering lower priced items
  • Showing what others purchased
  • Offers from third-party sellers

By following some of these techniques in your store you should be able to capture more sales when your products run out of stock.

Showing similar items

Newegg displays a prominent Not available. See similar items below message with a link to the similar items below.

This gives customers a chance to find another item that may satisfy their needs now.

Displaying other items that are available now is a great way to keep the customer in your store and should help lead to more sales.

Back in stock notifications

Newegg shows an AUTO NOTIFY button next to some of it’s out of stock items. This let’s customers sign up to be notified when the item is back in stock.

Back in stock notifications are a great way to bring the customer back to your store when you receive a new shipment of inventory.

It is worth noting that many of the graphics cards that were out of stock did not display this AUTO NOTIFY button. This could be for a variety of reasons.

For example, if the item is in too high of demand, then sending out notifications would possibly frustrate your customers when the majority of them come back to see it is out of stock yet again.

Another possible reason for not allowing notifications is if the item is not likely to be stocked again in the near future.

Offering lower priced items

Amazon displays a list of lower priced items as seen above.

This is basically a refinement of the similar items mentioned above.

Rather than just showing similar items, for high-priced items you can also highlight lower-priced alternatives.

Showing what others purchased

Showing what others purchased after viewing this item can also help in product discovery.

In this case, the graphics card that was most often purchased happens to be the out of stock one which is not ideal.

However, showing other options available should still help give customers another choice before they decide to look elsewhere.

Offers from third-party sellers

Amazon also shows offers from third-party sellers for items that are out of stock.

This approach lets Amazon make some profit for the referral sale rather than losing the customer.

Showing offers from third-party sellers may not be an easy task to pull off if you are running on Shopify or a similar platform. A lot of work goes into setting up and managing Amazon’s seller network.

However, if you can find a way to send sales to another merchant for a referral fee, you may still be able to make a profit on the transaction and add to your bottom line.

Summary

If your store sells a popular item that you can’t keep in stock, you have a few options for how to handle it.

To recap what we discussed, you can:

  • Show similar items
  • Offer Back in stock notifications
  • Display lower priced items
  • Show what others purchased
  • Display offers from third-party sellers

Basically all of these techniques boil down to helping your customer find related or similar items that may still satisfy their needs.

In the case of back in stock notifications, you are making sure you can bring the customer back to make a future sale.

Hopefully you can use some of these techniques within your store to help you still capture the sale when your items run out of stock.

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