Have you ever ordered online and the goods didn’t turn up because they were not in stock? Irritating isn’t it. I recently ordered some sportswear: two pairs of shorts in black. I got a call a day later saying they only had one pair in black and would I accept a blue pair instead. This was great customer service and I went ahead, but could the call have been avoided? A real time stock facility would have enabled the site to let me know there was only one pair available and an ‘alternates’ facility could have showed me the blue shorts. Of course, once I saw what I wanted was not in stock I may have simply gone back to Google until I found a site with them in stock. We recently ordered some Cricket equipment for my son and it took two weeks to realise that they were never going to have the goods; needless to say we will never shop there again.
This illustrates the difficulties in online selling: do you make it all automatic to save the labour, or do you accept all orders but have a slick customer service operation to cope with problems (we don’t recommend just ignoring the customer!). With Shopfront you can have the choice and we can provide advice on the various approaches.