How to Deal With Out-of-Stock Products Without Losing Customers

Danica Mae Allibang

4 mins read

How to Handle Out of Stock Products Without Losing Customers

With a little ingenuity and some planning, you can keep your customers coming back, even when inventory is running low. In this article, we’re going to show you how to deal with out-of-stock products without losing customers through print-on-demand!

If you’ve been in the e-commerce game for a while now, you’re probably familiar with the struggles of managing not only your inventory but also your customer’s expectations.

It can be a delicate balancing act to keep track of what products you/your print provider have in stock and how to keep your customers happy when their favorite product is out of stock. While the problem may not be entirely within your control, they’ll remember you and your brand when they can’t find what they’re looking for. Let’s dive into what to do when your print provider notifies you they are out of stock on one of your products!

What’s the Big Deal With Out-of-Stock Products?

Alright, but what exactly is the big deal about out-of-stock products? Shouldn’t it be a good thing that you’ve run out? After all, it means that people are buying your stuff!

Well, here are a few pitfalls that can potentially happen when products are out of stock:

They Can Drive Away Customers

About 91% of consumers say that they are no longer willing to do business with a company after just one bad experience. While an out of stock product may not be the end of the world for most people, some customers might still view it as a negative experience, especially if they were trying to buy a gift or needed the item for a specific event.

What’s worse is, if a competitor offers a similar product, you can easily lose that customer to your competitor for good.

They Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

If the out-of-stock product is among your best-sellers, then you’re not only losing out on potential customers, but also revenue. This can be a big blow to your business, especially if you’re a small operation.

They Can Mess With Your Search Engine Optimization

If you rely heavily on organic traffic from search engines, a dip in ranking can also mean a dip in traffic and potential customers. This is because when products are out of stock, pages can get de-indexed or removed from search results entirely.

While this can be avoided if you have your own website, it’s more difficult to control if you’re selling through a marketplace like Amazon or Etsy.

Dealing With Out of Stock Products

Quite scary, huh? But don’t worry, there are ways to minimize the potential damages of out-of-stock products and still keep your customers coming back for more. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ones:

POD is the Way to Go

Without a doubt, the best way to deal with out-of-stock products is to avoid them altogether. And the best way to do that is to use a print-on-demand (POD) fulfillment service.

POD is a type of order fulfillment where the print provider only prints the item once a customer has made a purchase. This means that you don’t have to keep inventory on hand, so you’ll never have to worry about the cost of storing excess inventory and the loss of potential sales due to out-of-stock products.

What’s even better is that there are now POD services that can automate the entire process for you, from order processing to shipping. This can free up a lot of your time so you can focus on other facets of your e-commerce business.

Keep Your Customers in the Loop

Whether it’s through emails or back-in-stock notifications on your website, you should always keep your customers updated on the status of out-of-stock products. This way, they know when to expect the product back in stock and can plan their purchase accordingly.

And if you’re selling through a marketplace like Amazon, you can also set up automatic notifications so to automatically notify customers on the status of an out-of-stock product.

Be Honest and Transparent

If the product is gone for good, then the best thing you can do is be honest and transparent with your customers. Let them know that the product has been discontinued and provide exclusive deals or discounts on similar products to make sure you won’t lose their business.

For instance, you can send them free shipping or a 10% off voucher to their email which they can use for their next purchase. This would encourage them to continue shopping with you while also making up for the inconvenience.

Make it a Marketing Opportunity

Sold-out or out-of-stock products are still a flex for some stores. People may want what they can’t have, and making a big fuss over a product that’s unavailable could create a sense of urgency and even FOMO (fear of missing out) in some customers.

This could lead to a spike in sales once the product is back in stock, so it might be worth considering this approach if you think it would work for your business.

Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and make it seem like you’re purposely holding out on your customers. But a little bit of harmless marketing can go a long way in increasing sales and keeping your customers happy.

Rescue the Sale with Alternatives

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What happens when your POD partner is out of stock? Another way to deal with out-of-stock products is to suggest alternative products to your customers. For example, if they’re looking for a particular custom tote bag but it’s sold out, you can offer a different but similar one as an alternative.

Awkward Styles offers alternatives of equal or greater value, and a quick and easy setup. This is a great way to save the sale and still provide your customers with what they’re looking for. Plus, it can also lead to upselling and cross-selling opportunities down the road.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Finally, one of the best ways to approach such problems is to take action before they even occur. This means being proactive instead of reactive with your inventory management.

Keep tabs on your product data and stock levels at all times so you can make informed decisions on when to set up product alternatives. This way, you can avoid selling out popular items and disappointing your customers.

If the item that’s about to go out of stock is something you cannot choose a product alternative for, then advertise a similar one that the same customer segment may be interested in.

By being proactive, you can avoid a lot of the problems associated with out-of-stock products and keep your customers happy!

Ready to switch to POD to avoid all the hassle that comes with inventory keeping? Sign up for free at and see how we can help you with your fulfillment needs!

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