Disappearing act

05Nov08

If you’ve purchased a lot from Amazon, you probably know they do a great job of notifying you when something in your cart changes. For example, say that you place an item in your cart but don’t purchase it. Then, the price of the item changes. When you return to the site a few days later and check your cart, Amazon will show you a very clear message about that price change. The same goes for items that are no longer available.

While shopping at another online store, I came across the opposite behavior. When a product in my cart had sold out, it simply disappeared from the cart. In fact, it was removed from the entire website. I had to do a Google search to find the old product page, and only then did I see a cryptic message saying the item was no longer available. This took way more time than it should have, and certainly didn’t help my perception of the store.

Granted, Amazon’s approach isn’t perfect. From what I recall, they don’t provide relevant suggestions for a replacement product if the original one has been discontinued. But they’re certainly light years ahead of most stores in keeping customers informed of cart changes. Since placing something in the cart indicates a reasonable likelihood to buy, other retailers should revisit how they handle cart-related messaging. Chances are they’ve never given it any thought, so even a small improvement would be a welcome one.



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