More than ever, customers expect items they order online to ship right away. Businesses that sell mass-produced goods have to meet that expectation in order to compete with the Amazons and Wal-Marts of the world, but businesses selling one-of-a-kind or made-to-order items have to be careful to set customer expectations to avoid disappointment, returns, or chargebacks.

Kate Maller Jewelry carries some pieces that are in stock and ready to ship, and others—items in unusual sizes, or with options for customizations—that are made to order. While in-stock items ship within a few days, it can take several weeks for a piece of made-to-order jewelry to be ready for the customer.

The challenge Kate Maller Jewelry faced was communicating those different lead times to the customer. dbdc was able to help with some Shopify development to show custom in-stock messages and custom out-of-stock messages with appropriate shipping info for each type of product.

Adding Custom Product Info Based on Stock Status

Shopify lets the shop owner decide whether any given product can be ordered when it’s out of stock—in other words, whether to allow backorders. Since made-to-order items are never “in stock”, enabling the “Continue selling when out of stock” setting for those products was the first step.

Next, dbdc inserted some custom code into the individual product page template in the Shopify theme used on Kate Maller Jewelry’s site:

{% if current_variant.available %}
     {% if current_variant.inventory_quantity > 0 %}
          {% assign kmj_stock_status = 'ready_to_ship' %}
     {% else %}
          {% assign kmj_stock_status = 'made_to_order' %}
     {% endif %}
{% else %}
     {% assign kmj_stock_status = 'sold_out' %}
{% endif %}

This snippet checks to see if the currently selected product variation allows backorders, and if the quantity in stock is 0 or below. If both of those things are true, it means that product must be made to order, and another block of code displays the appropriate shipping information on the product page:

A made-to-order product variation
A made-to-order product, showing the custom shipping information box.
A ready-to-ship product.
An item that’s ready to ship, showing the standard shipping information.

Showing Stock Status in the Product Catalog

A code block in the product grid snippet adds a flag that displays a “Made to Order” badge on products where all variants are out of stock but which are set to allow backorders:

{% assign made_to_order_tag = false %}
{% if product_quantity < 1 and product.available %}
     {% assign made_to_order_tag = true %}
{% endif %}

This helps customers browsing the catalog see which items will ship right away and which ones will take a little extra time:

A product with the Made to Order badge

Better Communication Means More Sales

eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce have a solid customer experience out of the box, but there are many opportunities like this one to enhance the way you communicate with your customers through your website. Contact me for a free audit of your online store to see what steps you can take to improve conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Cover photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash