Who doesn’t like surprise? I mean, it probably depends on the kind of surprise. A significant other surprising you with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of roses sounds nice, right? But a stranger who’s holding up your store at gunpoint, that’s not a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, I disgress. I wanted to talk about Webshop owners who think that estimating a shipping date is optional. Just yesterday, I bought something from a store, which seemed to indicate that the product I wanted to order was in stock. So I happily ordered the product, paid and awaited it’s arrival. But instead, an e-mail arrived.

“We don’t have your product in store… We’ll need to order it and we’ll ship it when it arrives.”

So of course, you can imagine I’m not a happy camper. I was looking forward to using that fountain pen! And it gets better. I didn’t get an indication of when the rest of my products will be shipped. I have to send an e-mail to find out. In a time where the Amazon’s of this world, and his local counterparts, can offer a detailed overview of when what’s shipped, that’s a lot of effort you’re asking of me.

It’s understandable that you don’t have an unlimited supply of items in stock, but if you’re a webshop owner, you’ve got to realize that clients expect an indication of when a product will be shipped – especially now that most stores have adapted an “order now, and it’ll be at your doorstep tomorrow” policy. “Pretty damn fast” is now the default.

So, what can you do to avoid disappointing clients or the need to engage in a “We’re so sorry, but…” debate?

Some suggestions RE: your shipping dates

  • Indicate an expected delivery / shipping date. For example, the store in my example could’ve added “4-7 days” to the product and I wouldn’t have been surprised.
  • Use an e-commerce solution with stock management. Clients are used to modern webshops that indicate whether or not something can be ordered immediately. Setting up something like this isn’t that hard. For example, in Woocommerce all you need to do is update the stock once you get new products. Simple enough!
  • Integrate your stock management with your store. If you want to go *really far*, you could integrate your stock management tool (assuming you’re using one) with your webshop. This could be limited to just updating the products in stock daily.

“Unfortunately”, your web shop isn’t unique and people have got certain expectations of a webshop. A clear indication of when you’re shipping, is one of them. Don’t let your shop become a glorified order form and a portal to disappointment. Do it for the children.