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Cart before the horse

We've decided that we needed new flatware, and there's a black metal set at Sears, of all places, that we liked best. So we went by the local mall to pick up two sets, enough for eight people in total.

The mall store only had one box, enough place settings for only four people.

"No problem," I told my darling wife, "we'll just buy them both packages at once online on Sears.com."

Never having visited Sears.com before, I was amazed how clunky their navigation was. I tried to browse to the items I wanted, but gave up and used the search box instead. Finally finding just what I was looking for, I dropped them into the online cart, entered in all my contact and credit card info, and hit "Checkout".

Only to be told they were completely out of stock online, too. AFTER I had spent all the effort to enter in all my customer data. And to make matters worse, all that was displayed was "This item is not available in the quantity ordered." I had no idea if my order went thru, no idea just how many were in stock, so I tried the order process again from the beginning, re-entered in all my data, and tried to buy just box of cutlery.

"This item is not available in the quantity ordered." Not "We're sorry, this item is out of stock. Would you like to be notified when it is available again?" or even "We are temporarily out of stock on this item. Please try again later."

Aside from all that frustration, why couldn't Sears have included a "check available stock" function the minute I dropped the product into the cart? It would have saved me ten minutes of typing in all my contact info twice and trying to decipher a confusing error message.

Good design anticipates a customer's needs.
Bad design forces the customer to fit their actions to your website.

“Cart before the horse”