Limit 3 per customer

08Feb11

While helping to put together some test equipment for the office, I needed to locate a good deal on four identical monitors that met certain specifications. I searched all the usual sites, and found a great price at one of our favorite vendors. However, when we went to complete the purchase, we hit a brick wall: we needed four units, but there was a limit of three per customer.

I understand that there are various reasons that a retailer may need to limit the per-customer purchases of a particular item. However, I was disappointed that the website in question wasn’t more upfront about this restriction. In particular, they should have stated the maximum purchase volume on the product detail page, rather than waiting until after the customer added it to their cart or tried to begin the checkout process.

Plus, they should have explained how the limit is measured and what customers can do when they need more than the limit. For instance, if it’s just a daily purchase maximum, then they could advise customers to buy the additional units the following day. Of course, this will be subject to whatever rules the manufacturer or other parties have in place regarding those restrictions, so the advice to those who need a larger volume may sometimes be “sorry, you’re out of luck”.

Whatever the business case that leads to per-customer purchase limits, it’s better for everyone when they’re disclosed upfront and in the clearest manner possible. That way, shoppers won’t be surprised by a big stop sign at the last moment in the buying process. And perhaps more importantly, customers can adjust their purchasing plans before investing a lot of time and energy in a product — or a particular sales channel — that can’t accomodate the quantity they need.



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