The Quickest Way to Send Your Clients Running… to Your Competitors


Karma has the privilege to work with a number of online retailers. For some we manage the whole kit and kaboodle and others we just manage parts, but we share the same message with them all. Accuracy is the key ingredient to making your website work for you. That could be anything from ensuring your hours are set correctly, to the accuracy of your inventory online.

The Quickest Way to Send Your Clients Running… to Your Competitors

Just recently I found myself in this situation as a customer. Our regular supplier was out of a product we needed fairly quickly. Their shipment was delayed and we waited a couple of weeks before we were getting desperate. With supply issues as they are these days, we felt we could not wait any longer. Knowing we are loyal to them and would return, we decided to shop around for a new source to get us through until the shipment came in. 

My first step was to do a web search in my area to see who might have it. I entered the product name in Google, and found the main site for the product with a directory of store locations where we could find it. I found 3 in my local area including the one with the shipping issue. Of the remaining 2, one was a major retailer and the other a small mom and pop store. 

Thinking our chances may be better at the larger retailer, we started there. As we arrived we asked a sales representative for help, and learned they don’t even carry it. They did at one time, but replaced it with their own brand (which was also sold out). They left their listing on the supplier site to lure people in so they had the opportunity to sell them on their own brand. They even show the product as available on their own site (part of why we drove there) and don’t sell it. Even if they had their own brand in stock, we likely would not have bought it. I didn’t care for the bait and switch approach that seems to have been resurrected as a sales strategy. 

We left that store feeling lied to. After speaking to some colleagues I discovered this was not the first time this has happened. It solidified my position that we would never shop there again, for any products. 

We then went to the small mom and pop shop that was listed. They didn’t have their stock on their site, so I knew going in I was taking a chance that they might not have it. Much to my surprise, they did have the product on the shelf. Because they did not set the expectation that it was in stock, I would not have been upset if the shelf was empty. White my loyalty still lies with our original supplier, I now know I have a second supplier that I can go to if supply issues arise in the future. 

Had the information on the larger retailer’s website been accurate, and stated they don’t sell that product, but a comparable product, I might have considered it, but I would have made a conscious choice to choose a substitute. I would not have thought to call to confirm stock levels because we assume if it is showing inventory on your site, you have it. Instead I made a conscious choice to never go there again. 

The second retailer made the choice not to set the expectation as they did not have the manpower to manage it. A conscious choice on their part that I, as a web professional, appreciate. In a case like this I might have called to see if they have it, because there was no inventory. I chose to go there without calling, knowing there was a chance it too was out of stock. 

We have come to count on the information we get from the internet. We assume the hours on Google my Business are correct, we assume that if they say they have a product, they do, and we assume that every bit of information they are providing to the world is as accurate as possible, but the truth is often far different. We share this as one of the foundations of a great website. If you can’t invest the time to make sure your inventory is accurate, then don’t put your inventory on your site. And certainly don’t put products on your site you don’t even sell. Perhaps if it is important to your business, look to a professional to help. The money spent on the professional service to maintain your site will result in happier customers getting the products they need, rather than running for your competitor. 

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