Monday, April 4, 2022

Death of the Hold

 I can't hold that thing for you. One of the lovely ways we provide support to customers is we tell them about something cool we have and they ask us to hold it for them. In a "single stream" store environment, where there is no online store, the hold is to remove the item from existence in the store. It's one reason why if a customer calls and we look something up in our POS system, we want to touch it before confirming its existence. 

With an online store, we have Shrodinger's Items, items that can both exist and not exist. Held objects are not available on the sales floor, but they are available online. To hold an item is to remove it from the sales floor and mark it as invisible in the online store. That's a recipe for disaster, although you can certainly do that and with a single person store, it might even be feasible. It's just you and your memory. 

I've also become overly cautious about promoting anything that is currently in stock with a limited supply. I tend to promote pre-orders rather than things that exist now. I've had customers swear they would never shop with us again after we oversold an item. We had four, I created a rush, we sold some in store and some online and there was an inevitable error in reconciling these things. There is a delay between selling something online and when it's actually picked from the sales floor. The solution is to have deeper stock or separate stock. Both solutions are not feasible.

One solution we had for about 10 minutes before I flipped out was reducing the count of every online item by one, making single items on the shelf invisible online. Something like 30-40% of our items are just one copy (it used to be higher). If you've got a solution to the venerable held item, let me know.

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