I’m not saying sellers should have huge inventory costing lots of money just waiting for a possible purchase, but where an item is shown as in stock then it should be just that.
I agree, but with retailers such as LCdC what they're in effect doing is putting up catalogues of the product ranges for which they can take orders on the expectation that they can then source units of the products (from manufacturers, distributors, or even brokers of stock between networks of merchants, for all I care) for the customer within a commercially reasonable
length of time if they aren't already in the store's stock inventory.
It's a valid retail model, as long as the merchants don't convey or purport that the items are currently in stock (when the items actually aren't) if they accept your order, and their customers don't assume an item is in stock just because an order is accepted, never mind who wants what when
(in other words, whether prospective customers want or expect to see real-time stock availability by self-service before placing an order is irrelevant and has no standing as a "rule"). How long "commercially reasonable" is may be enshrined in local consumer laws, or spelled out in industry consortia and/or local Chamber of Commerce guidelines, or "proven" through customer behaviour by way of which merchants lose business based on track record and word of mouth of typical delivery lead times.
Where I have a problem with the model is when the merchant's belief that it can source an item is not continually validated, and then it proves to be incorrect, e.g. when the merchant accepts an order for a pen model on its product catalogue, and then discovers upon making a request to the manufacturer or distributor that it's no longer available. As much as I'm getting disillusioned with buying on Rakuten Global Market these days, at least some
sellers will advise that a particular listed item is a run-out model, which may turn out to be unavailable even after the customer order has been accepted by the platform. I have a lot of goodwill for LCdC and Pensachi, but both had made that kind of mistake with my orders before. (Hell, even Amazon US has done that to me, for something it listed as in stock — and, for avoidance of doubt, it was "sold by Amazon".)
It seems fair that retailers can deliver on their promise or that they should have a caveat that n days needed before items are in stock.
Sometimes the merchants just don't know, and as long as they don't make any promises then the (prospective or committed) customer cannot hold the merchants accountable for dispatching within n
days, as long as the catalogues are valid in the sense that every item for which it will accept orders can be supplied and delivered in due time.
I’m all for tolerance and don’t mind a short wait time, though this does seem an issue retailers might reflect on in their listings (maybe there’s a flip side too in that ‘n days to order’ might result in some going elsewhere.)
Or not indicating that whether something is currently in stock, or the maximum amount of time it takes to source a unit of an ordered product and dispatch it, in the sales process may turn prospective customer away. I think that'd be fair. The consumer who'd be comfortable with waiting (say) 12 days for an item to be dispatched, but wasn't promised it and therefore elect not to order the item from a particular merchant even though it really could have been dispatched in a week, is a "loss" to both him (or her) and the retailer, but if the retailer isn't prepared to make any indications or promises then that's just how it is.