I am building out an e-commerce site for a screen printing ink manufacturer. They have around 300 SKUs and warehouses in two locations - one on the east coast, one on the west.

Generally when customers order, there is a time sensitivity. Additionally, the product can be heavy and incur large shipping costs. For these two reasons, it is important for customers to know what stock is available at which warehouse location and to order accordingly. Ideally, they are able to see what is available at the 'other' warehouse, as well - in case they are less time sensitive and are ok with inventory coming from this location.

I think there are a few different options as to how to approach this. I'd be curious to hear if others have faced such a situation (surely) and how they handled it.

  • Hi Peter, welcome to UX.se! Can you provide your solutions to the problem via. mockups or screenshots?
    – rk.
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 19:06
  • Hi RK! Yes - I'll mock up a couple potential solutions and post them by tomorrow. Thanks for the input.
    – Peter TIG
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 19:16
  • 1
    Hi Peter, welcome to UX. If you want to respond to someone it helps if you include @<their username> in your comment. That user will then receive a notification of your message. Post (question and answer alike) owners are always notified of comments to their posts. That's why you were notified of this comment even though I didn't include the notification signal. Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 21:16

4 Answers 4


Do you collect their data before they order? You could potentially use some of it to make it easier to give them directions. If they look for a product, you could show them how many are available in the warehouse closest to their address, with a secondary box showing how many in the other one if they really need it (or if the primary one is out - only show the secondary).

As Laurian Vega said, I'd give tips too. If they order 4 ink cartridges from one warehouse, but the other one is closer and has them in stock, let them know! Give them a little courtesy message at the top of the page saying "You can save money by ordering from the secondary warehouse", where they can either dismiss it or click on it and get more details.

The other alternative is you mash the two warehouse stocks together, and automatically send the ink from the closest warehouse to their address, and if that one doesn't have enough, from the secondary one too. You could run a calculation in the background to figure out the shipping cost for it, doing something like:

(stock from warehouse 1 being sent * price per item to be shipped) + (stock from warehouse 2 being sent * price per item to be shipped)

The customer would most likely be more satisfied with the first option though, since you tell them straight out what they can save, what warehouse it's coming from, and all of that. They can also wait for it to become available in the warehouse closest to them since they know exactly how many it has on-hand.

  • Hmm, just noticed the date of OP. Not sure why it came up in my newest questions.
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 3:38

Hum. If I were approaching this problem I would figure out what are the most important factors. These might be like shipping time or cost - like you have outlined. I would then use a badge approach (I like newegg.com) to display the necessary characteristics for browsing.

If it is worth telling the user once it is useful telling them many times. So I would tell them on a badge, on the webpage for each listing in your store, in a header I would have the little cart with images under it with anticipated shipping+shipping cost, and I would definitely have it displayed prominently on the checkout page. You might also want to think through a recommendation engine - like, "This color blue is 4k metric tons, but this blue is 4lb, and can get to you in half the time."

Overall it sounds like you have the need to weigh some hefty issues (pun intended). Start with the page that the users are going to look at most - like browsing or search results. Then figure out what is relevant fo reach page.

Like someone said, mock-ups would be great.


I would allow them to filter based on what matters to them and ignore the actual location:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


What about using a simple prompt to get the basic information from the user before they start?

Info Prompt

Only three points for data entry (whether you enter the number of days or the date, the other is automatically calculated) and you'll likely have enough info from the customer to give them the information that they need. I'd then display the results in a table, arranged by warehouse, with both lead time and cost. Filters are available for a more granular search.

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