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Are banners to out of stock products losing you sales?

Are banners which lead to out of stock products losing you sales which you could otherwise be cashing in on? Are you offering your customers obvious enough substitutes?

I just visited feelunique.com to buy my husband a fragrance (FYI feelunique - giving me a free sample with my last order worked, as he just emailed me a link to the fragrance requesting it for his Birthday!) and upon searching for the brand name a lovely photo of the handsome Simon Baker appeared (which now makes me like the scent even more!).

Are banners to out of stock products losing you sales?

The banner was for exactly what I was looking for, so I clicked on it, only to be shown that the scent was out of stock. Sad face.

So I clicked to be notified when it's back in stock (handily already filled in with my email address) clicked away and was about to leave the site when it dawned on my that perhaps I could get it in a different size. (I don't buy perfumes very often so it took a minute for that idea to hit me.)

Back to "Givenchy > Men's Fragrances" and I could - woo! Rather than buy the 100ml option I could buy the 50ml - which suited me fine because it ticked the present box but cost me a lot less.

But feelunique almost lost that sale... leading me to a "wouldn't it be cool if..." moment when I thought that it would be great if their banner system could know when a product was out of stock and so temporarily link to a different version of the same product (the smaller size, in this case), and then change back to the bigger ticket item when it came back in stock again.

Whilst thinking this, I went back to the original 100ml page to see if there were any notices about the other sizes - and there are (because feelunique is a very nicely put together site) - but I didn't notice these when I was initially on the page as I was distracted by the "update me when back in stock" option. Perhaps a subtle text link of "Other sizes available" next to the "Out of stock" message would have helped?

Overall, I still placed the order and feelunique got the sale, but I think there are some helpful conversions points to be considered here for any ecommerce shops who sell the same product in various sizes or colours and list them separately on their site.

If you're over stretched and would like The Web Guild to write a test plan for your website, carry out a UX review or test your site across various devices, please contact us or visit our member directory to find a vetted digital agency who could help.

by Lisa

Lisa has been planning, designing and building websites for companies of all sizes for over 18 years. Nowadays you'll mainly find her wireframing and then designing complex sites over at 18a to make sure they flow well to give the user the best possible experience whilst providing great ROI for the client. She also teaches SEO (search engine optimisation).

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