Zavvi, formerly Virgin Megastores, has been forced to suspend web sales of DVDs, games and music products.

The entertainment retailer has been poleaxed by the fallout from Woolworths’ demise after the latter’s wholesale arm EUK stopped providing it with its key product lines.

On the Zavvi homepage a message reads:

“Regretfully, at this time we are unable to fully guarantee the supply of DVD, music and games products to our customers (books remain unaffected). As you, our customers, remain our primary concern, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, we have decided to suspend taking orders for these products…”

However, sadly this isn’t enough.

Why? Because shoppers that originate a search for ‘Zavvi’ on Google can easily bypass this message, by clicking one of the supplemental links and being taken directly to the DVD, games or music channels. Or a more detailed search query might direct them to a product page.

Worse than this, shoppers can still place DVD, music and games products in their basket. As such, shoppers might fill up their baskets with entertainment delights before hitting the ‘checkout’ button. Even at that stage, alarm bells do not ring.

It gets even more troublesome after clicking ‘checkout’  because, as is common with many e-commerce retailers, Zavvi at this stage invites shoppers to log in or sign up.

That’s going to leave a bad taste particularly for new customers, who after handing over their data will be told – presumably – that their orders cannot be fulfilled.

The loss of a key supplier (or in Zavvi’s case an exclusive supplier) is a nightmare scenario for any retailer, especially at this time of the year, but clear messaging and managing expectations is paramount at this time.

If I was the e-commerce director at Zavvi I’d seriously consider working out a superaffiliate deal with a ‘frenemy’, and redirect these orders elsewhere, will taking a commission. Unless the executive team has a white knight on the horizon…