What will you do if any product run out temporary or permanently from your inventory? What will happen then? Will you just drive away your customers telling them you are running of that specific product or redirect them to another product page?
There are so many questions about ecommerce out-of-stock product page. And there are solutions also to solve this problem without harming your business. When you are selling products online you might run out any products any time. You can’t sell these products until you replenish the inventory back in stock. This is so common in ecommerce retailing and handling wisely this situation will help you to increase your conversion without losing potential customers.
A stock-out product can be those seasonal products or special discounted products you sell during holidays and other seasons. Running out of any seasonal or discounted products is absolutely okay. You just need to tell your customers that they are looking for seasonal products which recently are not available. But if you have any regular sold-out product then you need to think twice before simply telling your customers that you have run out their desired products. And in that case you need to know what is an out-of-stock product page and how should you optimize these sold-out pages?
A sold-out or out-of-stock page is a page for ecommerce products or services that is unavailable for temporary or permanently. These pages are not that bad but could be a huge risk for any online store as they might contain poor quality and low-value contents. These pages sometimes are disengaging- can drive away your potential customers making them disappointed.
Why you need to optimize your out-of-stock page
Leaving the out-of-stock pages as it is may not help you but either delete them will also not help to engage more customers. As these pages are now unavailable to sell, you are not getting any customers for these pages and so no revenue as well.
This is not all. Out-of-stock pages are one of the main issues for ecommerce for losing traffic and potential customers and also for SEO.
UX often comes into spot light when there is disappointment and whenever your customers land on a page that don’t have the product they have clicked for; they ultimately leave your site with disappointment. This is sure not good for your business.
Having an out-of-stock product page is not that bad but miss managing of this sold-out page certainly create user disappointment and frustration that leads to bad user experience. Customers click on a link that shows their desirable products making their mind to purchase those products. But when they land on an out-of-stock page finding that specific product unavailable at the end of the checkout process, they get disappointed and frustrated. This may cause a bad UX and online sites with having such bad UX may lose their conversion ultimately.
Customers’ quick reaction to an out-of-stock page is absolutely okay. Because they spent a lot of time to find your specific product page and when they get slapped with 404 error or are redirected to another page or to homepage without knowing what just happened, they clearly get a bad experience from your site and can decide to leave your site and even never return to.
How sales can be affected by a simple out-of-stock page? It is indeed a common question. But many ecommerce business owners don’t know that they are losing potential customers and huge sales due to poor management of their sold-out pages.
You may not be able to convert each and every site visitor to your loyal customers but there is fifty- fifty chance of getting qualified traffic and to convert them. And you may loss that golden chance with your product unavailability.
In SEO industry an out-of-stock page has a great impact on your site’s SEO performance. How? An out-of-stock page generally has high bounce rates, poor contents, low session duration and average engagement which present your site in a negative way to google. And thus your site might lose its rank and traffic.
Simply think how you are handling your sold-out product pages. Either you are showing 404 error page or redirecting your customers to another page or to your homepage, right? Now if you have too many 404 pages, google will identify your pages as errors which will not be good for your page rank. Again redirecting customers to another page may increase your “short clicks” which also let google to rank you after your competitors. So when dealing with your out-of-stock pages, keep in mind that your pages not only perform for better engagement but also have to perform for SEO to ensure top rank and maximum traffic.
Best practice to manage out-of-stock pages
Now you know why you should optimize your out-of-stock pages. Optimizing your sold-out pages will help you to improve your UX, increase your sales as well as to perform your SEO better. But where to start? Here is some best practice to manage your out-of-stock pages-
Your inventory may runout any product occasionally but you need to find out the reason why this product is out-of-stock. A product can be out-of-stock for many reason. It can be your seasonal product or your discounted product that you sold for a specific time period or can be temporary out-of-stock which you will restock soon. Again some products can be permanently out-of-stock. You know why your product is out-of-stock but your customers don’t. So let them know the reasons behind product unavailability.
First, find out why you are running out of products and which type of products become out-of-stock and how often. If these are popular product than categorize them and try to restock as soon as possible.
Once you find out the reasons you now be able to categorize your unavailable products in following categories-
Now you can manage each of these products easily and more efficiently as they require different approaches to be handled. If any product is temporary or seasonally stock out, then optimize your product page with clear communication instead of removing those specific product pages. But these may not work when dealing with permanently stock out products. So carefully deal with different type of stock out products for better outcomes.
It is better to act quickly and clearly when dealing with an out-of-stock product. If you don’t clearly state that your certain product is out of stock and let customer know this message on the checkout page, you will disappoint your potential customers and make them to leave you.
So be clear if it is sold-out or out-of-stock. And if possible state when it will be available again. If your products’ unavailability message on product page doesn’t match with checkout page, it will confuse your customers and influence them to decide to leave your site.
If any product run out by its size or colors, then state this update in your product page. For example, if you just run out X and XL size of your women long sleeve t-shirt, then clearly state the size unavailability in your size chart or in other way. So do with color unavailability.
Many ecommerce sites use visually unrecognizable sign to mark their stock-out products. This is absolutely wrong, because tiny or hard-to-find sign can be easily missed and thus customers can be confused and frustrated.
It is better to warn your customers about your products’ stock unavailability before they click on that stock out products. By doing so you can make sure your customers don’t find your navigation confusing or disappointing.
You can warn customers by many ways. By simply grey out sold-out products’ images or make unavailable to click those specific products.
Whatever tactic you follow to show your stock-out sign, try to make it easily visible and noticeable.
Suggest your customers related or similar products if you cannot give them what they want. It is one of the best practice to deal with stock-out products.
Why should you lose the great chance of selling products to customers when they are absolutely at right place you want them to be? That’s right. Customers can leave your site finding your product unavailable and your first task is not let to happen this. If you don’t have the product that your customers want, sell them similar products that they might look for the sold out products.
For example, if “white sole with red edge” women sneaker isn’t available in your site, show different color options for same sneaker to that customers who just clicked on your stock-out product page.
Many leading ecommerce brands show related or similar products in terms of priority, such as top priority products are bestselling similar products of that sold-out products. Thus they categorize their similar products according to products’ priority and show them to customers when they land on an out-of-stock page.
Will you just let your customers go away from your site telling them that your product is unavailable? Or, will you offer an option to get notified when you restock your product again?
The latter option is better to retain customers and to increase your sales despite having stock-out products in your site. Customers get disappointed finding any product unavailable on checkout page. This is not good. But you can turn the situation on your side by telling them to leave their email address so that you can send them further information about that specific sold-out product.
Another tactic to convince customers to sign with email is to provide incentives. For example, you can say “we are sorry for the unavailability, get 10% discount when the product is back. Entre your email so that we can send you the coupon.”
Thus you not only can retain customers, but also can promote your other products similar to your sold-out products.
Many sites show 404 “not found page” for their permanently stocked out products. But this is not the best tactic for ecommerce SEO. Showing 404 error page to customers is somewhat letting them to think that your site is broken or having problems. That is absolutely bad for your site’s rank and conversion.
Redirecting customers to 404 error page when they click on your permanently stock out products’ URL can’t help you to deal with sold-out product page. This can be less engaging and may drive away your traffic as well as can raise red flag with Google.
If you must use 404 error page, then try to use “custom 404” where you are redirecting customers to a page that have similar or related products rather telling customers that “the page is not found”. You can include keyword-rich links of your other product pages in a custom 404 page.
It is better not to redirect to homepage rather if you don’t have any permanently stock out products or you don’t prefer 404 error page then use 301 redirect where you redirect customers to a new page such as sub category or category page.
So how exactly can you deal with your stock-out products? Basically it depends on your knowledge about how much you understand your business as well as your customers. Put yourself in customer’s shoes and try to understand the difference. What you think isn’t relevant better think like customers and act like pro marketers.
Whatever you are planning to deal and optimize your out-of-stock products page, remember UX is everything when you are selling online not only for your site’s SEO but also for customer engagement.