Let's tackle the age old debate.....should an online website offer Cart Protection, or, continue with the "first to checkout" model?
It's 1 minute after a release. We may have only gotten enough discs to satisfy 5% of the total demand for our site. You go to select that beautiful swirly disc, head to check out, key in your card info...then SOLD OUT. You navigate back to the product and little to nothing is left. You missed out, and are understandably upset.
The scenario above happens frequently and customers are expressing their frustration through our support email and in our DMs on social media. It is happening more and more as our site grows, but inventory and availability from some companies does not quite keep up with the demand.
The people who are upset in the above scenario immediately default to the question.."why was my cart not protected so that I could checkout". This is a very complex question. One that has many reasons and many layers. Reasons that quite frankly, most do not care about when they are upset because they missed out on that hot ticket item.
First off...I get it. I have been on that end of the scenario many times as a collector, thrower, fan, and as a retailer buying through wholesale sites. It is frustrating and it will probably never feel better when it does happen.
Some online stores have began to offer 30 minutes of protection on items in your cart. This is a huge shift from the industry standard. One that may end up defining a turning point in online retail into the future.....but will it really though?
So let's kick this off with the truth. This article has some bias. We do not have cart protection, nor is it something we can offer anytime soon(I'll get into that in a minute). I also have concerns over the viability, even if we COULD offer it. There are some holes....holes that could result in an even worse buying experience for many.
Let's detail some facts about Cart Protection and why we aren't sold on this being the solution of the future.
- Our Website Provider(top provider in the world) does not offer this: Unfortunately, system limitations are a thing. As a company who just went through a conversion in early 2021, we are not going down that road again for the foreseeable future. We are very happy with 95% of available options from our current provider....and unfortunately one of those is not cart protection.
- Intentional Cart manipulation: I could go on and on about this. From retail competitors, to scalpers looking to inflate demand, to someone just trying to play a joke, people could easily manipulate these carts to remove from active inventory to protect in their carts for long periods of time. Everyone has heard of bots, and I believe these can and will be programmed to abuse this feature. Lets paint the picture. We release 50 of a special disc. Someone has a fast computer and adds 5 to their cart. They now control 10% of our inventory for 30 minutes. In theory, they could release and add back at 29 minutes over and over again if they wanted. Think of this compounded over thousands of releases and different scenarios. In many instances, the demand is high which would allow one person to add many to their cart absent the intent to actually purchase. Does this eventually fix itself? Maybe...but how long and how often could this happen?
- Unintentional Cart manipulation: We may have anywhere from 10 to hundreds visitors on the site at any given moment. Say 20% of those visitors have an active cart. Then, lets say 75% of those people abandon their carts and only 25% purchase. In a given hour, you could be looking at anywhere from 15 to 100s of carts pulling inventory out of stock in the waiting period, where those people will never purchase. How many others visit in those times, see the items out of stock, and move on? That's an unmeasurable figure, but my guess is a lot when it comes to more popular releases and high traffic times. If I go to a site and see "out of stock", I am not going to go back in 30 minutes and hope someone else's cart released some product.
- It still comes down to "who can do this task first": At the end of the day, it's still about who gets it done first. In this scenario, its who adds it to cart the fastest. Many times, the item would be gone before most average buyers can even hit the button. How is it a better experience if you still do not get the disc you want?
Many major studies and publications agree that Cart Protection is not the answer. It is a killer for conversions and allows plenty of room for manipulation. And guess what, it doesn't really solve the problem at the end of the day. We do think there is a better way, and we are researching all avenues until we find it. We are always committed to improving the buying process and you will ALWAYS get honesty and transparency from me.
Until next time.