Out of Stock? A Few Ways to Save the Sale


Dealing with demand for out of stock items can be one of the biggest headaches facing ecommerce website owners. It seems like there is always huge demand for an item that you don’t have. However, there are a few ways that you can save the sale. Out of stock does not always have to mean out of luck. You can make a plan that will increase your chances of making the sale. Here are a few strategies.

  • Prevent the problem. One of the best ways of dealing with issues related to being out of stock is to disable adding to cart when an item is not available. This will prevent most—but not all—of your ‘out of stock’ issues. However, this strategy is not foolproof. For example, customers may add items to a saved cart and then come back later, or you could encounter a period of high demand in which too many people try to check out the same items at the same time. For these situations, read our next tips. 
  • Offer similar products. Often customers are happy to take a similar item or an almost-identical one from another brand. Showing a window with these related items can make a sale possible even when the desired product is out of stock. If you can show several different products in a carousel or list, you increase your chances of winning the customer over.
  • Offer to notify customer when the item is restocked. This can be as simple as an email button. Sometimes a customer is really happy to have found what they need. This type of customer is highly likely to come back and make the sale at a later date, as long as you let them know when. This can also help to build your email list.
  • 301 redirect. Sometimes taking the customer automatically to a similar item increases your chances of making the sale. After all, this takes away one of the decisions that they have to make when an item is out-of-stock, and it allows them to fully experience the alternate product before making an offhand rejection.
  • Direct to a partner. You don’t want to make sales for your competition, but you do want for customers to leave happy. If you have corporate partners that offer similar merchandise, consider redirecting your out of stock product pages to their own similar or identical products. You can even make a reciprocal deal that will give you a little more traffic while enabling you to deal with stocking issues. 
  • Allow checkout to continue. You may have lost the sale on the out of stock item, but this does not mean that you have to lose the sale altogether. When all else fails, include a ‘continue to checkout’ button that allows customers to make the rest of their purchase.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Creating a feed of sold out products or otherwise publicizing them can create urgency for customers thinking about buying your products. It shows that they may not be able to leave now and buy the product later.