If you own or manage an e-commerce website, you obviously must have had times when a product has gone out of stock. This can prove to be a tricky situation. You don’t want to lose customers, and you don’t want to lose your hard-earned organic ranking either. What do you do? What’s the best way to deal with out of stock product pages?
One of the problems with an out of stock page is dealing with customer frustration. People will go through all the effort of searching for a product, landing on your page, to ultimately find out that the product is out of stock. This will definitely affect your revenue.
Another major problem is losing hard-earned organic ranking on search engine result pages. Some choose to turn their out of stock product pages into 404 pages, some redirect them which also ends up confusing and annoying potential customers. From an SEO standpoint, it’s essential that these pages continue to rank.
So what’s the best way to go about this? How does one manage out of stock product pages? Let’s find out.
Oh and just a friendly reminder, if any of this goes over your head, we’ve got an expert team of web developers who’d love to help out.
What should you do to out of stock product pages?
What you do with your out of stock product pages depend on a few things. Are you getting a lot of traffic on those pages? If yes, it would be a great idea if you could simply display that you’re out of stock, and show a few other similar products. Many major e-commerce websites do this. Take it a step further and add a “email me when product is back in stock” button.
The users are going to be disappointed that the item is out of stock anyway. So your best bet is to show them similar products that they might be interested in. This makes them more likely to continue shopping.
You may consider deleting the page. But this is not a good idea. If you have any backlinks on that page, doing this will seriously affect your SEO. It also goes without saying that, you shouldn’t remove a product entirely just because it is out of stock. This can confuse customers. People who might have saved items in their cart will find items missing. This might make them think that the product isn’t available on your website and they might look elsewhere.
Here are some common ways we’ve seen companies deal with out of stock pages.
Creating a 404 page
Do not turn these pages to 404 pages. Your products will eventually be back in stock and people will have to find your pages again. Doing this will cause your page on the SERP to be out of sync with the actual status of the page. What I mean is, by the time the products are back in stock, and you rank back to the first page, quite some time would have passed. What happens if within that time, you go out of stock again? This is a very bad move.
Permanent and temporary redirection (301 and 302 )
This has also the same problem mentioned above. But this is a viable option when you have a certain product which is out of stock, but want to redirect users to another similar product. Don’t forget to add a message stating that the original product is out of stock and that users have been redirected. But this can also feel deceptive to the customers.
Use the [availability] property in product-offer schemas to display availability information on your organic search result. This tells users on the SERP itself that the product is in stock, or out of stock. Again, the downside to this is that Google takes time to crawl your page and update this on the SERP.
The best way to manage out of stock product pages?
So what is the best way to manage out of stock product pages?
Well, for starters, placing a Notify Me button is a great idea. We’ve seen this on websites like Flipkart and Amazon. The user gives you their email id and you can send them a mail when the product is back. This helps you bring back potential customers and helps you get more sales.
Some websites even tell you if the item is available in a physical store near the user’s location. They can pick it up from there whenever they want to. While this may seem inconvenient, it’s a lot better than a 404 or a redirect. Customers can purchase it online, and then pick it up from the nearest physical store.
Like we’ve already mentioned before, you can also suggest alternative products that the user might be interested in at the bottom of the page.
The first question a customer will have about an out of stock product, is when it will be back. Display the time of estimated availability if possible.
Don’t keep your customers in the dark. You should explain why the item is in stock. Is it only available during certain months? Is the item in high demand? Has production been discontinued?
What about people browsing on your website?
So far we’ve talked mostly about people who find your pages from a search engine result page. What about the ones who are on your site. What should you do when someone searches for an out of stock product on your site?
There are a few things you could do to make the user experience better. You can display out of stock messages on your website’s search results. This will save people from clicking on items and then finding out on the next page that it is actually out of stock.
Some websites have a convenient option of filtering results by availability. This, when selected, prevents out of stock items from showing up on the search results. Even if you don’t add a filter, you may want to put the out of stock products at the very bottom of the search result page.
So there you have it. These are some ways you can manage out of stock product pages on your website. Are you aware of any other ways you can manage these pages? Drop them down in the comments below.
Oh and as always, we’re here for you if you ever need any help with your website! That’s all for now, cheers!