Ecommerce: Dealing with Out of Stock Products

Online shopping has become an easy and very convenient way to buy products from the comfort of your own home. The only catch is that sometimes what you want isn’t available and that can be a bit frustrating. It can happen quite frequently that online stores have products unavailable and the way they deal with out of stock products lead to a failing grade. 

First off, there are several ways that online stores deal with out of stock products. Many e-commerce sites show the product page almost unchanged. If you aren’t looking for it, you may miss the fine print saying that an item is out of stock or unavailable. It’s both bad for users and search engines. It can be annoying to assume a product is available and then find out it’s not once you go to add it to your cart. It would just be as if you went to the actual store and saw a jacket in the display window and then find out that the store doesn’t actually carry it.

You might find yourself in this kind of a situation: you click on a product to buy and you are automatically redirected from the product URL back to the homepage. This can be confusing to users because they wonder why they are suddenly back at the homepage again and then have to go through the trouble of clicking back to find another product. Again, it’s frustrating to the user and complicating the shopping process.

Another common mistake is the 404 page (not found). Usually when this happen, the shopper assumes that your site is broken or something is very wrong. And it’s true. This isn’t good for an online store because too many errors will raise a red flag with Google.

After reading about how to do it wrong, you may be wondering how to deal with out of stocks correctly. Make sure your “out of stock” message is simple and clear to users. Don’t hide it in the details, but make sure it stands out boldly. If a site is worth its salt, it will give you alternatives to the specific product you are looking for. If you were searching for a particular brand of jacket in a shade of green and you found it to be out of stock, the online store should give you similar options of what is available based on the brand you are interested in with alternate colors, brand, etc. 

Bottom line, online stores shouldn’t make it look like they have the product available when it really isn’t. Out of stocks should be shown clearly to users and a solution given for similar items to purchase. This will make for happy customers who will want to return to your site.