When is too much demand a bad thing?
Selling out of a product is usually a great thing. Except when it’s the week leading up to Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
That’s the scenario Amazon is facing right now, as the e-commerce giant’s main website and app has been sold out of the Echo voice-controlled speaker since at least December 9. The black-colored version won’t be back until January 16; the white model is slated to return on December 30.
The smaller Echo Dot device has been out of stock for at least a few days, too, and isn’t expected back until December 27. Same goes for both devices on the websites of retail partners like Best Buy and Lowe’s.
An Amazon spokeswoman said, “customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are working hard to get back in stock.”
If you’re brave enough to visit an actual storefront this week, you might find some Echo devices at Amazon’s physical bookstores in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, Ore., she said. There might also be some available at Amazon Pop-Up stores in various malls or through Amazon’s two-hour Prime Now delivery service in certain cities — though Prime Now was out of stock of both in New York City and San Francisco on Monday.
And if you’re really desperate, you can find the original Echo on eBay. But you might have to pay as much as $399 to secure it, instead of the current Amazon price of $139.
It also seems plausible that Amazon could restock its Prime Now two-hour express delivery service with more Echos later this week in time for its second annual Procrastinator’s Delight promotion for last-minute shoppers. It would be interesting to see how Prime customers who don’t live in cities where Prime Now is available would receive that.
Either way, the inventory issues leave an opening for Google’s new Home personal assistant device to make a dent this holiday season. I asked Google if they were doing anything special on the marketing front to take advantage of the Echo shortage.
“It’s exciting to see everybody get so excited about the assistants,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “The Google Home team always had a robust holiday promotional plan, and we’re seeing great success from those efforts.”