out of stock product page

You put a lot of work into getting people to your store. AdWords, social media, SEO – it’s all time and effort that will be wasted if the customer doesn’t have a great experience when they get to the product page. As e-commerce designers, it is our job to make sure that visitors to your store feel excited and inspired by what they see. We want them to want to buy! But what about when the page they land on is an out of stock product page?

There are plenty of reasons items might be out of stock; whether it’s seasonality, an unexpected surge in popularity, or even just learning how much inventory you need to hold.

Luckily, with a few tweaks, an out of stock product page doesn’t have to be a black hole for customers.

Good e-commerce sites answer customer’s questions with quality content, and smoothly guide them to the products they want.

When customers hit a product page, but they can’t buy, it’s not what they’re expecting. One unexpected turn doesn’t have to mean a bad customer journey though. When people get an outcome they don’t expect, they will generally be very forgiving, and can still enjoy their shopping experience, as long as you make the path forward clear and easy.

But how can we do that?

Back in stock email

Setting up an email list to let customers know when the item is back in stock gives customers an option of something to do, and helps you to build an email list for interest in that product.

For sellers using Shopify or BigCommerce, there are apps which easily plug into your store to offer this function.

Pre Orders

If it makes sense for your business, consider setting up your store to allow customers to pre-order items that are out of stock.

It may be a good idea to have some kind of message about why the item isn’t in stock; whether it just be that it is an incredibly popular item, or that it is small batch made. It is good to give the customer a bit of positive brand messaging to keep in mind while they wait.

You can set up a pre-order button with a date, so it sets a clear expectation for the customer. The customer can choose to pay now and be guaranteed to receive the product when it comes back in stock.

This works really well for unique items that customers may struggle to find elsewhere or seasonal items with high demand such as beauty advent calendars which often sell out fast.

It is important that it’s crystal-clear that your customers are pre-ordering, and won’t receive their items right away. If possible, it’s helpful to provide a solid timeline for delivery, which helps set expectations before they hit pre-order.

You also need to make sure that this function is set up by a confident developer. It’s linked to inventory and pre-order dates, so it’s important to make sure you’re communicating the right thing. You wouldn’t want to do it incorrectly and have something break.

Cross-sell/up sell

So your customer has had the option to be told when the item is back in stock so that they can purchase it then, but what if the customer was just in the mood to buy something right now?

Everything up to this point has been building your customer’s desire to purchase. We don’t want to waste that!

Displaying other similar and related items on the out of stock product page improves the customer experience, and can often save the sale.

If you have sold out of a basic product, but still have a more expensive deluxe version in stock, this is the perfect time to upsell the customer and increase the basket value.


When a product is out of stock, the product page is your opportunity to turn what could be a disappointing experience into a great one. You can do that by providing options for customers, and by being really clear with them about what the next steps are; whether it’s signing up for email notifications, recommending other products, or allowing your customers to pre-order the item.

It’s all about replacing a moment of disappointment with a more personalized customer experience.

Whatever the situation in e-commerce, the key to a good customer experience is always the same; provide a clear journey with great customer service.

If you want help creating a smooth e-commerce journey for your customers, book a free consultation with a Frooition e-commerce design advisor today.

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