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How to Handle Out-of-Stock Products in Your Ecommerce Store

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By Emily Nelson - July 11, 2022- in Go-Getter Blog

It’s common to hear about ecommerce sellers having too much stock that burdens their business. But running out of stock is also a deal-breaker for customers. One survey found that 30% of consumers feel diminished inventory options hurt their overall shopping experience. After experiencing too many out-of-stock issues, 70% of shoppers will go to a different brand to look for what they want. 

There are always hiccups to running an online business, but inventory struggles don’t need to be one of them. Here’s how to handle out-of-stock products in your business & turn them into a positive experience.

Switch to POD Fulfillment

Switching to print-on-demand (POD) fulfillment eliminates the stress of products running out of stock. Once you create your designs & upload them to our hundreds of products on CustomCat, we produce & fulfill the orders as you sell them. With no minimum quantities, we serve solopreneurs to enterprises seamlessly. 

POD also allows more flexibility for experimentation. You can play around with colors & styles instead of carefully picking & choosing inventory you think will sell, ordering, & stocking it. When you have more freedom to scale your product offerings, you create more revenue potential & ability to scale. 

Interested in simplifying your inventory? Read more about CustomCat & POD works here.

Show Product Alternatives

Try using an ecommerce app that offers alternative, related products that align with what your customers are already looking for. There’s a high chance you’ll save your sale without the extra effort. Research shows that 69% of shoppers will choose a substitute item after a first stock out occurrence. You can also make sure your product selection reflects what type of inventory you have in stock, from sizes to colors. 

Showing what else customers bought when they snagged the out-of-stock item also provides some shopping inspiration. Now your audience can see what pairs well with their wish list item & what products are trending in your store. 

Turn Out-Of-Stock Inventory Into a Marketing Opportunity

Sometimes headaches in your ecommerce business can actually be an opportunity in disguise. Send out a marketing email or social media post letting customers know the item is so popular it’s already out of stock. Show off other products & give an idea of how many things are still available for sale before you run out.

The idea is to create a sense of urgency & reason to buy now. When customers feel like they’re missing out, they’re more likely to take action & snag the item for themselves. 

Capture Customer Emails & Keep Them Updated

Instead of missing out on customers who can’t find the product they want, capture their email directly on the order page. Include a message like, “Want to know when this item is back in stock?” with a space to fill in their email. It’s an effective way to build your email list & provide better customer service. Customers are also more willing to wait for an item if you stay in touch & then come back on their own to see if it’s in stock.

Stay Transparent & Provide Details

Beyond sharing when an item comes back in stock, you can also keep customers updated about the process & what to expect. Send out a marketing email explaining the out of stock issue, an idea of when the product should be back, & some timetables. 

There’s no need to send out a long update about supply chain issues or what you did to try & rectify the problem. Stick to the information your customers really want & let them know what to expect.

Scour Your Analytics for Clues

If you’ve been selling online for a few months or longer, you already have data on what to expect. Look through your ecommerce store analytics to see what’s selling & when. You might notice that a specific type of coffee mug & design sells best during winter. Meanwhile, your witty & colorful selection of beer steins is in demand in the fall. 

Beyond sales, your analytics also help empower your marketing efforts. You can see when to push which products to maximize your revenue & stir more interest.

Keep the Product Page Active

It’s tempting to retire a product page & take it offline if an item goes out of stock. Even if it’s permanently unavailable with no plans to restock it, you’re better off keeping it active. If consumers come to a deleted page, they will likely bounce off your site & elsewhere.

Instead, say that the item is temporarily or permanently unavailable & provide a few alternatives. Your customers need a visual reminder to stick around & explore the rest of your inventory. 

Give Customers an Incentive to Come Back

It’s normal for customers to feel a little disappointed or frustrated when a beloved item goes out of stock. Make it up to them by offering an incentive like a discount code or VIP access. Even if customers don’t return for that particular product, they’re likely to return at some point. You’re also communicating that you value their business & care about offering quality customer experience.

What do you do when products are out-of-stock? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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