Picture yourself as an online customer, filled with anticipation as you find the perfect item – only to be disappointed by its out–of–stock status.
This can happen often in an online store, as sudden surges in demand or supply chain issues can lead to stockouts. Out-of-stock items can have a negative impact on customers’ shopping experience and hurt sales significantly if not managed properly.
Why Out-of-Stock Items Are Problematic
Out–of–stock items can be highly problematic for any online store. Not only does it mean a lost sale at the moment, but it also risks customers leaving your store forever.
Customer satisfaction drops significantly when items run out. Customers visit your store to find the item they need – and when they're unable to purchase it, this leads to disappointment and frustration.
Inadequate planning for out–of–stock items can lead to a poor reputation with your customers, who may take their business elsewhere if they feel dissatisfied with the quality of products or services offered.
Out-of-stock items can also cause delays in delivery times if the product has already been sold but is not available anymore when the order is placed. This can lead to unhappy customers and a decrease in customer loyalty.
Navigating Out–of–Stock Items:
Proven Strategies for Your Online Store
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to prevent or minimize the negative impact of out-of-stock items on your online store.
1. Specify Whether Your Items Are Permanently or Temporarily Unavailable
It's essential to make it clear whether an out–of–stock item is only temporarily unavailable or permanently gone. If it's a seasonal product or something with limited availability, let your customers know so they can decide if they should wait for its return or look for an alternative.
To keep shoppers engaged and invested, create a waitlist for out-of-stock items. Offer notifications when they become available again so users don't hit a dead end.
Aside from that, keeping the out-of-stock products on your page will benefit your SEO and visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS). This is because the page will still be indexed and can help your store show up in relevant searches even if the product is not available.
2. Create a Waitlist
Creating a waitlist for out-of-stock items is another great way to keep customers engaged with your store. This allows them to sign up for notifications when the item becomes available again, so they know when it's time to make the purchase.
You can also use this as an opportunity to collect email addresses and build relationships with potential customers by sending them special offers or discounts on their favorite products.
3. Use Pre-Orders
Pre–orders can be a great way to manage out–of–stock items. They give customers the opportunity to purchase their desired item before it's available, ensuring they'll get it as soon as restocking occurs.
Pre–ordering also helps you anticipate future demand and prevents stockouts by allowing customers to reserve the product in advance.
Take advantage of Shopify apps such as Shopify Pre–Order Manager by Amai Digital to easily set up pre–orders in your store. This simple and straightforward tool allows you to manage pre–orders with ease. Automate the process by scheduling stock availability dates, or customize the pre–order page for a unified look and feel that matches your store's branding.
There's also an option to add a “Coming Soon” button to your store's product pages. This way, customers can click the button to be notified when the item is back in stock and can easily add it to their cart.
4. Utilize The Data
Monitoring customer behavior and sales trends will give you an early warning of any products that are at risk of running out, enabling you to take timely action.
You will know what they wanted to get, and based on that data, you can make informed decisions on what to sell on your print-on-demand store. By doing this, you are making the "problem" a part of your solution and helping you to increase sales.
5. Provide Alternatives
Don’t leave your customers without options. If you own a print–on–demand store, why not offer different designs and colors of the same product? Or if it's custom-made, suggest similar items that are currently in stock.
This way, you can keep customers engaged and make sure they don't leave your store feeling frustrated or disappointed.
6. Invite Them to Join Your Newsletter
Another way to keep your customers engaged and loyal is to offer them the option to sign up for your store's newsletter. To make it interesting, create content related to the items you sell instead of simply sending out promotional offers or sales every once in a while.
Reward your customers for signing up for your store's newsletter with exclusive offers and discounts. This is the perfect way to keep them informed about new products and restocks, so they'll be the first in line when their favorite item is back on shelves!
7. Add Product Personalization
Adding personalized and unique products to your store will allow you to work on demand and manage a greater margin of delivery times, without upsetting your customers, since they are willing to wait (and pay a higher price) if the product has added value to them.
You can do this easily by incorporating in your store a product customizer like Customily, which will allow you to set the necessary bases in your products, and let your customers create their own designs and see a live preview.
Out-of-stock items can have a negative impact on your online store’s sales if not managed properly. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to minimize this impact and prevent customers from leaving your store feeling frustrated or disappointed.
You should make sure customers know whether the out-of-stock item is temporary or permanent, create a waitlist for notifications when it returns, offer pre-orders to prevent stockouts, use data to better manage out-of-stock items, suggest alternatives when the item is unavailable and sign customers up for your store’s newsletter.
With the right approach and tools in place, you can ensure that out-of-stock items won’t be a problem for your store 😉