Backorders 101 – An Important Read!

Do you find yourself on backorder lists frequently?

This article features important information about the nature of the online wig industry. I think that giving you this info will help A LOT of this process make A LOT more sense in the long run. You will also find some helpful tips specifically about holiday wig shopping in here, just in case you are in need of some holly jolly hair! 🙂

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for wig shoppers. You may have parties or family reunions to attend, and of course, you want to look your best! I want to help you avoid delays and backorders the best that I can during this time of year . . . because let me tell ya, this is one of the times of year when they are most likely to occur!

Some general rules of thumb about the nature of backorder trends and why they happen:

  • Backorders frequently occur about a month after the initial release of the spring and fall collections every year, approximately around the time adventurous “first adopters” review the hair, and everyone else gets a chance to see whether or not people on message boards or their favorite bloggers like the wig. That delay is just long enough for the most popular of those collections to sell out.
  • It may take a month or more for some of the smaller, independent brands (like Envy and Estetica) to get inventory in to fulfill their backorders once these items sell out.
  • Less popular colors go on backorder with a fair amount of regularity. Greys, reds, and avant-garde fashion colors aren’t as popular as rooted blondes, highlighted browns, and light browns in the medical market. While you might think that these would be the last to sell out, so they shouldn’t be hard to get . . . you’d be wrong. The manufacturers know which colors will sell the best long before they commission a factory in Asia to make the hair for them. They make far fewer of these less-popular colors and they order them to be made much less frequently. Because of this, these “niche” colors may take a little longer to sell out, but once they do, they frequently stay on backorder for up to six months (or sometimes, even longer).
  • Popular pieces and new colors or styles tend to go on backorder most frequently and recover the fastest.
  • There is a cyclical nature to the inventory levels of any manufacturer, regardless of size. This has to do with the natural dip in wig sales that tends to occur during certain times of the year. In the summer, people buy fewer wigs because it’s hot and they may be saving up for the fall lines. In the Christmas season and shortly after, people tend to buy fewer wigs because they’re buying presents or paying off their credit cards from the holiday, or they may just be saving up for the spring collections
  • All of the stores on the web are drop-shipping from the same sources (the name-brand manufacturers) and because of this, you’re not just competing with customers from my store for products – you’re competing with customers from ALL STORES ALL OVER THE WEB, including Wigs.com, VogueWigs, and other massive sites.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most online wig stores only carry as much product in their own inventories as they absolutely have to (which isn’t much), and it’s usually only the most popular products. Everything else is drop-shipped directly from the manufacturer at the time you place your order. (Heck, even massive stores like Wigs.com drop-ship virtually everything!)
  • Most websites – including ours – do not keep current inventory levels listed on their website, so the colors listed DO NOT reflect what is actually available. Updating this daily is an extremely expensive and labor-intensive process that only one or two larger online stores can currently afford.
  • Colors sell out in a cyclical, seasonally driven pattern. Blonde colors sell out very quickly in the late spring and early summer. So, it stands to reason that the very first items to go on backorder any spring are the most positively anticipated new spring collection offerings from a given year in rooted blondes (which tend to be the most popular), followed by non-rooted blondes. If these are your colors during this season, you should plan to buy early to avoid this!
  • The inverse is true of brunette shades in the late autumn and early winter. Highlighted brunette and light brown shades always go on backorder first in the fall, particularly when it comes to the new fall collections for that year. Once the highlighted brunettes and light browns sell out, the non-highlighted ones generally follow suit. If these are your colors during this season, you should plan to buy early to avoid this!
  • Everyone tends to buy at the EXACT same times, which increases back order probability. If you only buy wigs on Black Friday or during a large sale, you should anticipate the high likelihood of a backorder.
  • Most stores (including this one) process orders on a first come, first served basis. If you wait until the last minute of a big sale to order, you will have to wait for the orders of everyone else who ordered before you to be processed first . . . and all the while, the same process is happening in stores all over the web, which cumulates in the rapid depletion of existing supplies while your order is waiting to be processed.

Here are some tips on how to minimize the possibility of a backorder in this store – and any other store on the web:

  • Inquire about inventory levels before you order. This is the easiest thing you can do to eliminate potential heartache. We recommend doing this at least a day or two ahead of when you plan to place your order so you can weigh your options.
    Remember: the inventory numbers we’re providing are directly from the manufacturer’s warehouse, just like basically every other store. If it’s sold out with us, it’s probably going to be sold out everywhere unless one of the bigger stores has a return or a stock model sitting in one of their brick and mortar locations.
  • If a giant sale is about to launch and you want to take advantage of it, do these stock inquiries the week before and get your orders in as soon as the sale takes effect.
  • We are always running some kind of discount. For those of you who don’t want to risk missing out on your favorite product, your absolute best bet is to purchase your hair the week before any major sales event. For example, most of the styles that were on backorder on Black Friday were NOT on back order the week prior to the rush. (And as proof of concept – we had the in-house specials sale running at that time, so you still would have saved some money!)
  • Buck the trend of wearing browns in the winter and blondes in the summer. Doing this will greatly improve your chances of avoiding a backorder.
  • Stick to popular styles and colors.
  • When shopping during peak times (right after new collections have dropped and during major sales events) make a habit of selecting a primary color and at least two colors you could also live with, in the event your favorite is unavailable. It is definitely better to do this in advance of ordering, since during high peak times, every minute counts!
  • Do not wait until the last minute to order. This one is SUPER-IMPORTANT!
  • Do not wait until the last minute to order. You should get your hair ordered as soon as you can. Okay, so now I’m being tedious, but it’s for a very good reason. If you know a holiday (or a cruise, vacation, or family event) is approaching and you know you’ll need hair hair for it — order it in advance! This will make backorders less of a dire pain and will give you a chance to exchange your wig if you don’t like it when it arrives. Waiting too long to order under these circumstances (from any wig store) will cause you even more stress during a time of year that is stressful enough all on its own. And who needs that?

I know this article has been full of all kinds of information. I hope that you found it interesting and eye-opening. More than this, I hope that it helps you avoid any unnecessary Sturm und Drang between you and your favorite wig vendors – especially now that you know what’s really going on behind the screen. 😉


This is an excerpt from our CysterWigs Knowledge Base. Check it out on our private site to see over 500 articles all about our store, wigs, and how to wear the hair!

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