If you own an online shop, you must have faced a problem with out-of-stocked products. For an offline store this problem is solved easily as customers see only those items that can be bought right now. This strategy of putting out-of-stocked products aside may not work for an online shop, and this is one more factor that makes online shopping tricky.
So how can you handle out-of-stock products as a Magento store owner? Read on and you’ll find bad and good solutions.
Let’s start with the bad ones as everybody likes to save the best for later.
Don’t do anything.
Yes, not doing anything really solves many problems (and doesn’t cause new ones) but that is not the case. Most customers get frustrated when they don’t find something they used to find. One of the most possible scenarios here is to leave your shop for another one that can give him what he needs. It’s even worse if this customer will never come back to you again – here’s your love story ends.
Delete a product and give customers a 404 page.
This solution isn’t a solution at all. Giving your customers a 404 page (especially, if it’s not customized) shows your indifference. Moreover, it can humble your SEO efforts as there’s no point in links coming to that page.
If your Magento shop is very big and you just can’t keep track of all 404 errors, try using some errors detecting extensions or/and customize your 404 page. A good 404 page may turn a frustrated customer into a loyal one.
We’ve left the best for later, remember? Later has come.
Redirect customers to a relevant page
If you don’t have a product A, you can show customers a product B if it can replace A. This works great as a customer will find what he needs and you won’t lose his loyalty.
You can use a 301 redirect if your product A won’t be re-stocked, or a 302 redirect if you decide to re-stock it later.
This solution is good but still it doesn’t give you any information on customers demand. Moreover, it works mostly for simple products. But what if only one type of a configurable product isn’t available right now?
Let customers pre order products
If customers are given an opportunity to pre order products they need, they are more likely to stay with you. What is more, you will get valuable info on which products are popular and can restock them accordingly, so this is a win-win solution for you.
Magento doesn’t provide pre-orders out of the box, but still there are pre order extensions available. With such an extension you can replace an “Add to Cart” message with “Pre order” and let customers subscribe for stock updates. So once the product they are interested in becomes available, they receive a notification, come to your store and buy it.
I’ve listed 4 different solutions for out-of-stocked products in Magento. It’s your turn: choose the most suitable for you and your customers.