As I age, I find myself taking on too much of the “bitter, grumpy old man” persona. Let me use a life situation to explain.

Is ALL this available online?

Go Grocery Shopping Online – If You Dare

I am NOT a fan of grocery delivery. All the major supermarket chains have it as an option. I am so paranoid about a botched order that I rarely use it. Some of that is experience – I have NEVER placed a grocery delivery order and received every item I purchased. Not once. NEVER. There is ALWAYS something that ends up being out of stock.

Side note: Somebody could get so rich they could make Warren Buffet look like a welfare child if they invent some real-time inventory monitor that will actually display “out of stock” on the grocery store website when an item is out of stock, instead of letting the customer buy it and then tell them later that it’s out of stock.

I asked for it FOR A REASON!

No, I Insist On THAT Item

My real paranoia lies with substitutions. I never leave that box checked. I am very picky about some things. My favorite coffee creamer is Coffee Mate sugar-free hazelnut. I do not want French Vanilla. I do not want Italian Sweet Crème. No Pumpkin-Peppermint-Whatever-Seasonal-Hot-Item-Is-Hot-Right-Now Special. I want HAZELNUT. And I want sugar-free because I must avoid sugar whenever I can since my weight loss surgery.

I must not be the only one like this, because sugar-free hazelnut is out of stock more often than all the 47 other flavors combined when I look for it at the store.

No Substitutions P

The substitution will be terrible


If I order online, I’m absolutely not going to accept any substitutions. Why? I expect the stock people to be unintelligent. Another analogy to explain, from a classic M*A*S*H episode.

Hawkeye had a fit when told the entrée was liver or fish for the 11th day in a row. Then, he and Trapper are sitting in Henry’s office trying to explain.

Henry: “Well don’t you think I’ve tried for some relieviation? Radar, what happened to that turkey I ordered you to order?”

Radar: “I filled out the requisition, marked urgent.”

Henry: “And?”

Radar: “They sent us 5,000 athletic supporters.”

Trapper: “Marked urgent!”

First off, that’s no typo; Henry really said “relieviation.” And yes, that’s exactly how I expect substitutions to be made in my online grocery orders. I expect that if I order a bag of Buffalo wings and they are out of stock, they will replace it with kitty litter.

AnJanette finds this hilarious – after she gets over being exasperated by my over-the-top paranoia. And of course, I had the out-of-stock issue again this weekend.

I have a shopping list app on my phone that I use when doing the weekly shopping. Since my phone was stolen after I picked up the first item on the list on Saturday, I had to shop from memory. I forgot about 4 items. Plus, my creamer was out of stock again. So I decided to give the delivery one more shot. There were 6 different products in the order. Everything showed in stock – including my creamer – so I placed the order.

Naturally, I get an email several hours later saying 2 items were not in stock. I have to make a physical trip to the store to get them. Kinda defeats the purpose of ordering online.

I was kinda sorta upset

Business Applications

I do understand that in a situation like grocery shopping, there is very little the merchant can do, at least until someone invents that real-time inventory tracker that can instantly change the status to “out of stock” on the website the second after someone in the store takes the last one. It’s just uncanny that I have absolutely never bought groceries online without having this happen.

I’m making an educated guess that no one reading this is a grocer, which would mean that inventory dynamic wouldn’t be an issue for you. With that assumption in place, there are lessons for me and others in business to serve others.

  1. Be Transparent. If there’s something a customer needs you can’t or have difficulty being able to provide, be up front. Ask if it is OK for you to get help providing for the need, or refer the customer to a trusted friend or colleague that can.
  2. Own Up To Mistakes. I have to give Walmart props here. When I got the email asking for feedback on this last order, I rated it a 2 out of 5 and explained how this out-of-stock issue happens every time. They sent me a code for $10 off my next delivery order. Very much appreciated. Once I get the nerve to order groceries online again, that is.

If you are a business owner that would like some assistance with having dynamic content for your customers, hopefully what I write in this space gives you confidence that I can help you in that area. Click here and let’s discuss what you need.