• Ty Givens

Tell your Customers when you screw up! It makes you more human.

In my career, I’ve spent a good amount of time working with E-Commerce and Consumer Goods brands. The reality is most are dealing with the same challenges and the processes are broken. A common challenge seems to be incomplete orders, which to me means the Customer won’t receive all of the items ordered, most likely due to out of stock items. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the negative backlash that out of stock items can bring.




In my career, I’ve spent a good amount of time working with E-Commerce and Consumer Goods brands. The reality is most are dealing with the same challenges and the processes are broken. A common challenge seems to be incomplete orders, which to me means the Customer won’t receive all of the items ordered, most likely due to out of stock items. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the negative backlash that out of stock items can bring.


If you can’t guarantee it. Don’t guarantee it!

If you’re not sure you will have enough in stock, don’t say you will. Under commit and over deliver.


Make sure your website is up to date and don’t over sell.

If you really have 100 on hand, enter your quantity at 90. Allow a wishlist and really make your next 10 customers feel truly special when you actually fulfill their wish list orders.


Provide recommendations for similar or replacement products.

This shows your customer you truly care that they get what they need, so much so that you’ve found replacements for them.


I know these are all best case scenarios and there will be times when you’ve over sold. In this case, it’s best to:

  • Communicate early and often: As soon as you know their order won’t be delivered on time, they should know. Not only does this build trust, it cuts down on inbound messages.

  • Accept Responsibility: Everyone screws up. Own your part. A few details related to why may help, but it’s not always necessary. Customers don’t care about your error rates, they want to know what you will do to make this hiccup up to them… perhaps free expedited shipping on their next order would be nice.

  • Give customers a reason to shop with you again, even though you royally screwed up. Discount their next order, or offer free shipping.


Be sure you have a list readily available of every customer who ordered, but would not be receiving the item(s). Notify them as soon as possible, this way they can prepare to purchase the item from another vendor. Accept responsibility and give them a reason to shop again.


Customers remember how you made them feel. Be sure you’re as transparent as possible and completely empathetic. As Steve Jobs says “Quality is much more important than quantity. One home run is better than two doubles.”

I’d love to know your thoughts.







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