Why does stuff disappear from Costco.com website without an out of stock indication?
December 17, 2010 4:46 AM   Subscribe

Why does stuff disappear from Costco.com website without an out of stock indication?

I have noticed in the last couple of days while trying to do some Christmas shopping for myself for a couple of rather big ticket items, Sony Bravia TV's and Blu Ray Players that certain electronics seem to disappear from the website without even an out of stock indication.

One has reappeared recently. I had even gone so far as to check my local warehouse and they had scores of them on the floor. However a certain amazing deal on a TV has disappeared. I literally am staring at a printout from yesterday.

Nothing comes up when I search for it by item number, browse for it in its categories etc.

Why doesn't it atleast show up as out of stock? Do manufacturer's require them to pull down items at random times? Is there any way to know if an item is likely to reappear on the website?

Any insight would be appreciated.
posted by Twinedog to Shopping (6 answers total)
I'd imagine some products are not in constant supply to Costco, so when they're gone, they're gone and they don't want to have an Out of Stock page to give the indication that it may be possible that more are coming in.

This makes sense as Costco may get certain products as a special buy from the manufacturer for so many units that couldn't be sold through the normal retail channel. So they sell it to a wholesaler, but unlike Best Buy or Target or Sears, their quantities of the product are limited, not open-ended.
posted by inturnaround at 4:52 AM on December 17, 2010

Yeah, they are sold out and not planning on getting any more (or not in the near future, at least, and don't want to have to deal with "when is this back in stock???" enquiries). They'd rather have you buy something else (more expensive, maybe) instead than wait around for this good deal to come back in stock or go somewhere else to buy the same thing.

The ones at the store on the floor are not available for online order since they are down as for the store to sell in person.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:09 AM on December 17, 2010

Meijer's site has been doing the same thing with Christmas decorations - a tree rather amusingly disappeared in the middle of my visit (I could bring up the page from my history, but it was no longer showing up on searches or in the category lists.)

I concur with everyone above - they don't expect the item back, or they only wanted to sell X via the website, or whatever. One can argue this is better customer service than giving you a vast selection of stuff you can't buy.
posted by SMPA at 6:13 AM on December 17, 2010

It's generally not useful to think of Costco as being like grocery store with a standing stock of things that they sell, order more of, sell more of, order more of, etc.

There are certainly items where they maintain a long term supply of the same item, but for many items, they've ordered some large amount of the item, often because the manufacturer can't move all their stock through traditional channels. There's no rebuy on those things. They also constantly switch suppliers in an effort to pursue similar products at a lower cost.

So with a lot of Costco items, there's a very limited window for buying them.

Here's an article from Business Week covering some of this ground.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:56 AM on December 17, 2010

In my previous job, we worked as a supplier to Costco. Their regional buyers determine what products go in, and whether they will be continued once the supply runs out. Our product had to go through a regularly scheduled review with the buyers to decide if they wanted to restock. That's why you see certain products at Costco, then a few months later, they are gone. This was primarily for the brick&mortar locations, but I think that the online may pull from local stores depending on where the customer shipping address is.

Also, the suppliers pay big bucks for special placement (like endcaps or in a catalog). BIG bucks. If a supplier can't afford it, they lose their place.
posted by sundrop at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2010

Hey just an update. The item a television reappeared after a while for a portion of a day and then disappeared again. I was hoping to pay cash and am waiting for some funds to settle. If it comes back on again I'll just buy it with my credit card and pay that purchase off in a couple of days.

Is it possible that they only want to sell x amount of units multiple times. I mean they are in the sony "retailer network" if that means anything.

It really is a super deal like a couple of hundred cheaper than you can find the same model anywhere else.
posted by Twinedog at 3:36 AM on December 19, 2010

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