Let’s face it: if you run an online store, you may run out of stock on some items. You might be surprised to learn that if you don’t handle your out-of-stock items well, you can lose even your most loyal customers.
Most eCommerce experts say that the best way to deal with this is to send out stock notifications and come up with creative solutions. In this post, we’ll tell you what to do if you run out of a product and still want to keep your customers.
How stores lose customers when they run out of stock
Even though it’s fine to run out of some products, how you handle it can make a huge difference in how your customer feels about their shopping experience as a whole. Let’s say that you just took the page off your website when the product ran out. When a customer went to the product page, they would get the well-known 404 error instead.
At first, this would make people think less of your store as a whole. Your customers might think that you won’t be able to get the product back in stock, so they might start looking for something similar.
Aside from that, it will hurt your website’s search engine optimization because search engines might stop indexing the page altogether. Because of this, you shouldn’t get rid of these product pages. Instead, you should think about using the tips in the next section.
How to Deal with Out-of-Stock Items on Your Store
Now that you know how an out-of-stock product can affect the overall experience of your online store, let’s learn how to handle this problem like a pro.
Show whether or not the product is available.
One of the best ways to deal with products that are out of stock is, of course, to show when they will be back in stock. You can put a “Sold Out” or “Out of Stock” tag on the page instead of just taking it down from your online store. This way, the original listing for the product would stay the same, and it wouldn’t even hurt your website’s SEO.
A lot of online store owners even think about putting sold-out items on the website’s search results. This will hopefully let your customers know that the product they want will be available soon.
Offer alternatives to the product that you can’t get.
If you know that the product you want might not be available for a while, this is an option. If a customer goes to the page for a product that is out of stock, you could show them some alternatives instead.
For example, if a customer wants to buy sneakers, you can just suggest other sneakers that are similar to the one they want to buy. This won’t be a forced change of direction, but it will give your customers more ways to buy, which will help you keep them.
Change the page your customers are on
Even though this is a risky strategy, it is often used when you know that a sold-out item might not be coming back to your website any time soon. Instead of taking the page down completely and losing customers, you might want to think about redirecting them.
That is, whenever a customer went to the page for a product that was out of stock, they would be sent to any other page on your site. The page that is redirected to can be your website’s home page, another product page, and so on. Just make sure to test this method before you use it all the time so you don’t lose customers.
Tell your customers that the product is being sent back.
If you run an online store, it’s likely that some items will run out of stock from time to time. If the products were out of stock, but that was going to change soon, why not let your customers know?
One of the best ways to do this is to ask your customer to enter their email address on the product page. Now, when the product comes back in stock, you can just send the customer a quick email to remind them. You can do this by hand or with the help of a plugin or other tool that is easy to find.
Show how many of its variations are available.
Another smart way to deal with products that are out of stock is to show their different versions. This is a common strategy used by many of the best eCommerce stores out there.
Let’s say a customer wants to buy a black coat in a medium size, but you don’t have any in stock right now. Instead of sending them to a different product, you can just list the different kinds of coat you have. For example, if the original product isn’t available, your customer might buy the same product in a different size or colour.
Tell your customer how many items you have.
You must have checked a product’s inventory status while shopping on an online store. For example, when I was looking for laptops to buy a while ago, the page said “Only 5 products left in stock.”
This is one of the best things you can do because it will let your customers know how many products you have in stock right now. A notice that you’re out of stock might also make your customers feel like they need to buy the product right away, which could help you sell more of it.
Customers should be able to pre-order the product.
If you know that the product will be back in stock soon, you can also let your customers place pre-orders. On your website, they can simply choose a product type and buy it in the usual way (even when it is presently out of stock).
Now, when the product comes back in stock, you can send it right to the customer. You don’t have to tell them that the product is now available; you can just finish their pre-orders.
Look at your sales in a smart A-B-C way.
Last, but most importantly, you should do an in-depth A-B-C analysis of your online store to separate your products into different categories. Platforms like Shopify can do the analysis for you, and you can do the same thing with third-party tools on platforms like WooCommerce.
You should be able to put all of the products in your online store into one of three categories (A, B, or C) and focus on how many of each you have.
A-Group: This is the most important group to focus on because it will bring in more than 70% of your store’s income. In short, the group has some of your best-selling items, and you should always make sure they have enough of them.
B-Group: The products in this group make up about 15% of your sales. Most of these items just move back and forth between the other two groups. It’s best to have them on hand, but not having them won’t make a big difference to your business.
C-Group: The products in the C-group are the ones that don’t sell well and bring in less than 10% of the store’s total income. It’s okay to run out of them every so often because their sales won’t have a big effect on your business’s cash flow.
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With any luck, this manual shed some light on the significance of products that are temporarily out of stock and how we can deal with them. Applying the aforementioned tips can help you provide a positive shopping experience for your customers instead of simply deleting the page of an out of stock product.
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