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Imagine an ecommerce site which must know the user's location in order to check the availability of items. Unfortunately, it cannot have a first guess with IPs, because the availability can change even in different regions of the same city.
Another important detail is that users would add many different products on a single delivery (based on the type of products), and delivery times could also be on the same day. So it must ask delivery address or postal code, before it display available products.

Which of the following scenarios could lead to better UX?

Scenario 1

  • (User on homepage): Simple form with postal code and CTA to start buying. Also any ability to search or view categories is hidden
  • (If user is landed on any other page): When user performs "add to cart" action, a modal dialog asks for address or postal code. Then the user is informed about the availability of his/her selected product, and reload products based on availability.

Scenario 2

  • (User on homepage): Any ability to search or view categories is available. Also user can explore the whole site, and even add products on cart.Only on checkout, the user is informed about the availability of his/her selected products.

The scenario of a registered user is trivial, as we have already captured his/her physical address

Do you have any examples of a similar problem with solution? What do you believe could be better for users?

  • 1
    what does this mean? "technology can't help us because availability can change even on the same city." – ThaSaleni May 11 '15 at 14:54
  • By the mean that we can't use IP to check the location, because it would be to generic. I am going to specify that, thanks for asking – gpelelis May 11 '15 at 14:59
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IP is, though, a good start. Using HTML5's location abilities is a good idea.

What you are considering is something many sites have already figured out. I'd start by seeing what the other's already do. Look at large retailers with web sites that offer in-store pickup. Home Depot, Target, Walmart, etc.

Ideally, you let people search everything and only prompt for their location when it's needed.

I'd suggest that you always allow everyone to search for everything, and then you flag the ones that aren't in stock near them. If they haven't yet provided their address, put a link that says "check local stock".

Keep in mind that people may need to change their location so make sure once you have it, it's easy to change.

  • Indeed IP and geolocation tech is a good idea. The only catch up is that we have to successfully serve older browsers, and IP is a little to generic. Also in-store pick-up is not an available option, at the current plan. For now I'll keep what you said about, you let people search everything and only prompt for their location when it's needed. – gpelelis May 11 '15 at 15:29
  • The point about in-store pickup was that they are using location information for that...which would equally apply to stock availability in your case. – DA01 May 11 '15 at 16:13
  • +1 "let people search everything and only prompt for their location when it's needed" also, they may move through the city anyway, you shouldn't assume they'll stay where they are when they search – rr1g0 May 11 '15 at 18:00

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