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While Stocks Last

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday November 24, 2011 )

The old “while stocks last”, “limited numbers available” and “offer must end soon” aren’t just marketing spin – they make for good butt covering in case a special is too popular – and that does happen.

A bakery in the UK unfortunately didn’t have these blurbs to fall back on in relation to a Groupon deal they offered that saw the business lose tens of thousands of dollars.

8,500 people signed up for a 75% discount on cupcakes – far more than the bakery owner imagined would.

According to the related report, it sounds like the owner is still in shock. Perhaps there is a silver lining to this cloud – who knows how much repeat business it may bring her if the product was good. Still, it’s hard to turn out consistently good product under such challenging conditions and I speak from first hand experience in the baking game.

However, whether she has done this consciously or not, she’s also been able to get the attention of NBC, BBC and other popular mainstream media organizations – and that coverage could be worth a bunch to her.

Anyhow, we won’t all have the BBC interviewing us if a special goes awry, so if you’ve avoided using blurbs like “limited stock” thinking they are corny – don’t; they really are necessary.

I’ve seen other deals that were meant to apply to the first X units but the merchant hasn’t specified that – then they’ve sold out of that inventory and either frustrated customers who will never return or taken a major whack off their profits to continue providing the special.

At least by mentioning one of these well-worn terms, the consumer is forewarned – and these blurbs can help create a sense of urgency. You can crank up the sense of urgency a little by stating a specific number – e.g. “only 100 at this price”. Just make sure you the hundred to sell.


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