Credit: uBer eBay shop design

Where to Buy vs Where to Buy Now

The out of stock and expectation dilemma.

Aditya Labhe
4 min readNov 30, 2017


Imagine a person planning to buy their favourite headphone from their first salary. This money that they have saved, and the most amazing headphone that they are planning on purchasing as soon as they see the ‘salary is deposited in your account’ in their inbox. It turns out when they land on your website the product says ‘in stock’ and they are all happy, but when they actually click on the retailer they prefer the item is out of stock.

You only get one chance to make the first impression, and you don’t want to make a wrong one.

Brands invest millions in getting the customer’s attention, and losing out the customer once they have finally decided to make the purchase just because you showed the wrong stock information can have a huge and prolonged impact on sales and the customer mindset.

So how big is the problem?

According to a recent research conducted by Daniel Corsten and Thomas Gruen based on six categories of non-food supermarket products, around 19.9% of the products globally are Unavailable To Purchase, out of which 8.1% are out of stock and 11.8% are Void (Voids occur when retailers suppress web pages for products that are out of stock).

Source: Daniel Corsten and Thomas Gruen

According to the same research when you compare major markets, US and UK retailers are better on Out of Stocks, but average on Void and Chinese retailers being much worse in terms of both Out of Stocks and Voids.

Out of stock information as an issue can be a hard one to control especially if you are talking brick and mortar, but having a dynamic out of stock strategy if you are selling DTC, or DTC + Marketplace on your website can be an easy one to deal with and can earn a brand one less angry/pissed off consumer.

While Inventory management is a different topic to deal with, and building your own supply chain or relying on a 3rd party/ retailer’s is something brands are already investing in, setting the right expectations once a consumer lands on your website is the key when it comes to digital shoppers.

Out of stock can have larger consequences if not proactively dealt with. The most logical being: Customers switching brands and moving to a similar competitor product vs yours. Customers switching the product with a lower value/small size item. Or they not buying the product at all.

Out of stock for you, is in stock for someone else.

Setting the right expectation with a clear ‘In Stock’ message.

How to tackle the wrong ‘In Stock’ and set the right expectations:

A Where to Buy / Buy Now Solution that works.

An advance Buy Now Solution will allow you to dynamically capture the information on partner retailer websites and reflect real time on the inventory displayed.

The same dynamic aspect can be applied to out of stock info. with some of the options being:

  1. Not Showing the Retailer when the SKU is out of stock.
  2. Showing an alternate but relevant SKU (example: other product colour variant/pack size), till the time the original product is in stock.
  3. Clear Message on when the product is expected to come in stock.
  4. If you have a DTC + Retailers option on your website, a sophisticated BuyNow solution will also be able to actively promote your DTC incase the product goes Out of stock on major retailers.

Not driving traffic to search/category pages with Where to Buy/Buy Now Solution.

Imagine you asking a store attendant in Tesco to show you where they keep your favourite brand of biscuit and they just leading to you to the biscuits aisle and dropping you off on your own to figure our the right shelf.

Along with the out of stock issue, it’s key to drive the consumer to the exact same product page as they are viewing on the website.

Consumers Landing on the product page rather than a search/query page will eliminate the possibility of consumers being distracted by other products along their path to purchase.

This will ensure that the consumer won’t have to restart the product search process once they land on a retailer and the correct purpose of ‘Where to Buy/ Buy Now solution’ will be met.

Structured path to purchase

Correct stock information and an exact Where to Buy is a bare minimum way of treating your consumers right and setting correct expectations and you as a brand have a lot more to gain than lose once you get that right.



Aditya Labhe

Thinker | Writer | Photographer | Learner | Adboy | Idea builder | Design enthusiast