What should I do with out of stock products on my website?

Products go out of stock or become discounted all the time. However, if you run your own e-commerce store or stock a handful of products on your website, have you considered what to do when a product is out of stock?

Ranging from user experience to search engine results, there are so many factors ignored when a product is no longer in stock, do you leave the product page as it is? Do you redirect the product page to somewhere else that is relevant? Well with these questions in mind, our Cheshire web design agency investigate these questions as we ask what should I do with out of stock products on my website

What should I do with discontinued or products we no longer stock?

As odd as it may sound, letting the expired product page display a 404 error page is the best practice from a user experience point of view, a theory backed by Google Specialists

Now as a professional Cheshire web design agency, you are probably questioning why we are suggesting displaying an error and our thoughts behind this. With avoiding the frustration of the user in mind, it makes sense to display a 404 error page so the user isn’t given any false hope of landing on the product page, only to be told you cannot buy it anymore.

However, instead of just displaying a standard 404 error page, you could improve the users experience by creating a custom 404 error page and link similar products, or access to a promotional offer. Read our guide on what is a 404 error page

What should I do with products that are temporarily out of stock?

Professionally speaking as a Cheshire web design agency, I would avoid using a 404 error or a 301 redirect and keep the page live and active if the product is simply temporarily out of stock.

However, to avoid any frustration, it’s essential that you identify to users as clearly as possible that the product is unavailable and ideally give a rough estimate of when it may be back in stock.

To avoid any further confusion, I would also highly advise removing all ability to select any variations of the product e.g. sizes, colours or the ability to add the product to cart.

If several other competitor’s stock the same products, you could use this opportunity to recommend similar products to what they were searching for, or as loyalty, ask customers to provide their email address so they be promptly reminded when the product is in stock, with some businesses even rewarding loyalty by offering discount if customers sign up.

When should I use a 301 Redirect for out of stock products?

If a particular product page ranks well within search engines, what’s the point in stopping that organic traffic? It’s a valuable expired product page. You should also consider if that product also has a number of quality internal and external links, which again have an important factor in search engine presence.

If you find a particular product page ticks both of these boxes, a 301 redirect is the correct protocol to use. When considering which page to redirect it to, consider the user-experience by looking to redirect users to the product category or a similar product to what they were originally searching for with a note stating why the user has landed on this page.

Read: What are 301 redirects

Cheshire Web Design Conclusion

No matter if you run a e-commerce store with hundreds of products or a small selection, over time you are going to have to deal with out of stock items. Instead of hiding the issue, hopefully you have found the point raised here to clearly present information to your customers.

A great user experience combined with following the correct SEO protocols not only helps maintain search rankings, it also helps covert customers!

If you would like any help with your e-commerce webstore and advice on your out of stock products, our Cheshire web design agency are wordpress specialists who in online stores such as woo-commerce, shopify.