What To Do With Your Online Store When You’re Out Of Town

Online Store When Out of Town

Last week my wife and I took a much needed trip across the pond to London for the week.  We were sans children so it was even more enjoyable.  Unfortunately leaving to go out of town doesn’t mean that life or business stops.

You can’t just turn everything off.

I’m lucky in the sense that I have a partner for my online businesses.  Bob is there when I’m not and vice versa.

Bob handles the online stuff but not plumbing problems.

No sooner do I arrive in London that my phone rings.  It’s my father in law.

“Great news.  Your plumbing at your house is backed up.”

problems with business when out of town

The impossible blockage perfectly arrives when I’m out of town.

Long story short my in-laws were staying in my home taking care of our children.  The plumbing backed up and we had to get an emergency plumber out on Saturday to take care of the problem.

Sounds cheap right?  $%#!

Well the plumber was able to take care of the problem and get it squared away.

If Its Not Bob and Its Not The Plumber, Who Is Minding the Shop?

On the other front, my wifes online store couldn’t fulfill orders by itself.   We were headed out of town and she had to decide what to do with her online store.  She didn’t really want to ask anyone to fulfill the orders for her.

As luck has it, she also had one of her designers featured on E! TV and had a YouTube video featuring her site go live.  The video went out to $150k subscribers and the E! feature both went live 2 days before we went out of town.

This video was the second YouTube video that she had done through FameBit.  If you are interested this actually turned out to be a great traffic source for her site.

These two traffic generators ordinarily would be great, but…

How Do You Fulfill Your Online Store Orders If You Are Out of Town?

A couple of days before heading out of town my wife realized she wasn’t comfortable asking anyone to fulfill her orders.  She knew the orders placed later in our trip would just be fulfilled when we returned.

But what about orders placed right when we left?

The Ingenious Look Big Idea

free online business resource guideWhen you are still starting your online store or growing your business, you want to look like you are big.  We actually cover this in our book and show you many of these free services to look big in our free resource guide.

The truth is that you don’t necessarily have the resources now, that you will have later.  You need to scratch and claw your way sale by sale.  Even if that means wearing multiple hats and selling everywhere including shows.

My wife is building a nice online store and getting orders daily.  Unfortunately it doesn’t warrant a full time employee to pack and ship orders.  She is still able to handle this load herself.  She is starting to outsource more and more of her tasks like writing thank you notes and graphic design work.

But if we are both out of town,  who is going to pack her orders up?  She can’t close the store.  Closing is the enemy.

Never turn away sales.  Even if you are out of stock, keep selling.

She came up with the idea to add some copy to her shopping cart.  She would say that the company was in “Inventory” and offer a discount.

Below is the actual message she used.

out of town message in the shopping cart


This was a perfect idea.  While not looking like a tiny operation, she was able to go on vacation and delay orders for when she returned.

Adding A Going Out Of Town Message To Your Online Store

While not everyone is using Shopify, this change is simple and easy across most online cart solutions.

  1. Your first step is to find the page that handles the cosmetics of your shopping cart.  In Shopify its called cart.liquid.  This may differ from site to site but it should be a similar name.

    Cart Page to Put Out Of Town Message On

    This is the cart page from the Shopify dashboard.

  2. Once you find this file you are going to edit the page.  You want to be careful here as this is a sensitive page.
  3. For ease we are only going to edit text.  No code.  You are looking for an existing text portion at the top of your shopping cart page. For example my wifes cart has a title at the top that says “Your Cart.”

    Shopping Cart Without Out of Town Text

    Here is how the cart looks before its been updated.

  4. Once you have determined the text that you are going to add it, you will need to find it in the code.   You can look through the code or you can press CTRL + F on your keyboard to bring up the search feature.  This is a universal search feature in web browsers.Handling Ecommerce Orders when Out of Town
  5. Enter the words that you are looking for in the search box to find it in the code.  Once you find it, this is where you will enter your message.  Make sure not to touch any of the brackets or < > marks.  You want to just append to the existing text.  I have done this below where it says “INSERT YOUR MESSAGE HERE.”Inserting message on shopping cart page
  6. Once you are done adding the text, save the page and you should be good to go.
  7. The last step is to go to your shopping cart and make sure the message is there and looks good.out-of-town-discount-online

Going Out Of Town With An Online Store Wasn’t So Bad After All

She received quite a lot of orders while we were gone.  She was able to rest easy seeing that each order was coming in with the INVENTORY promo code.

Customers had acknowledged their order would be a couple days late.  They were fine with it and received a discount in exchange.

Furthermore, she didn’t need to splash the message sitewide to tell everyone.


This message only appeared on her shopping cart.  Shoppers wouldn’t see this until they actually had intent.  This was a simple text change that made her vacation that much better.

While I suspect that she may have lost some sales , it was the best approach given the circumstances.
Hopefully next year she will be large enough that it warrants a full time shipper.  Until then, you can get by with what you have.  You just have to be creative some times.

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