If someone has a one-of-a-kind item in their cart, what should a second person see with regard to the [add to cart] button for that product?

(Please note that I’m asking about what should ideally happen from the customer’s point of view and not what e-commerce shops currently do.)

Scenario 0: wants GoldRing

For example, in an online jewellery shop Customer#1 sees GoldRing and adds it to their cart. GoldRing is a unique design; only one will be made. The page of rings include an [Add to cart] button by each thumbnail and the button is also on the product page.

Scenario 1: item in cart

Customer#1 wanders around the shop and end up on the rings page again. Should GoldRing still have an [Add to cart] button? Or should the button now be [Remove from cart]?

Scenario 2: Customer#2 sees the ring

Half an hour later, Customer#2 arrives and spots the ring. Customer#1 still has it in their cart.

Should the [Add to cart] button be available? Or should the ring be marked as sold out? Or maybe [Add to cart] with a message such as, “someone else has this in their cart - GoldRing will go to the first person who completes checkout"  

Scenario 2: unique item in two carts

Customer#1 and Customer#2 both have GoldRing in their carts. Should Customer#1 be notified (that time is of the essence) with an appropriate message on their next page load?

I'm attaching a screenshot of what Easy do when someone tries to checkout with a limited-quantity item that someone else bought. There was no indication at any time for the second browser that someone else was after the same item. The only indication was during checkout when checkout was completed in the other session  The now-sold item was removed from my cart.

I don’t think that it’s good to surprise and annoy customers when they want to buy something they’ve fallen in love with. Ignoring the frequency of this event and of the complexity to implement, what do you think that Customer#1 and Customer#2 should see in the above scenarios?

My existing custom shop takes the item out of availability as soon as someone adds it to their cart.  (Abandoned carts are emptied every two hours.) I’m now reimplementing my jewellery shop using Ubercart (Drupal). Ubercart lets you add items to your cart even if the stock level is 0 (!) and so I’m writing a custom module to fix this and improve the customer experience.

Thanks,


Paola


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