Managing Inventory & Databases

One aspect of running an online store is inventory – specifically, the fact that we have a huge database of games, accessories etc but only a small percentage of them are actually active at any one time.  There are a lot of games and items that either go out of print or just aren’t worth bringing back into stock.   Many of those we let go down to 0 and put it on special order status.

The problem of course is that if you have every single item that could be pre-ordered up on the site, it’d fat become extremely hard to browse.  It also slows the entire site down since we aren’t Amazon and have multiple servers running the site.

So, the question then becomes managing the database and listings, by turning some off and leaving others on.  That seems fine to start, but you also start seeing a new problem where old URLs which Google has cached become 404’s.  That’s not a good thing, especially if too many of your pages go offline.

So, the next question is what to do – do you manually remove the links from Google or create 301 reroutes to other pages? Or do you keep all those pages up instead, making your entire site much more difficult to browse but definitely more prominent on Google for these obscure / less demanded games?

It’s an interesting question on a business perspective but it certainly does create its own set of problem whichever way you go.

2 thoughts on “Managing Inventory & Databases”

  1. Our store deals in mostly unique items so this happens frequently. I keep a public archive of most sold items, but when I do remove something I display a custom 404 Error page that’s useful for people following the now dead link.

    I display a dynamic error page that’s designed just for items removed from the site. I have a note saying the product isn’t available online for x reasons, but you can contact the store and maybe something can be arranged. Then I show a selection of related products that *are* available online.

    (In your case you’ll probably have to keep a truncated identifier of what game was removed so you can build a list of related items.)

    1. That’s really interesting. We’d definitely need to figure out the code for that for sure, but might be well worth it. I’ll have to check our 404 logs for sure

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