What is Out of Stock in E-commerce?

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An Out-of-stock notification is a clear indication that a particular product is not available at the time of purchase. It is otherwise known as stockout. They are equivalent to the obvious gaps on shelves in brick-and-mortar stores. 

Sadly, out-of-stock situations are inevitable. No matter how well you run the supply chain management operation of your e-commerce store, you are likely to experience out-of-stock situations at one time or the other. It could be as a result of increased order requests following a discount or technical problems with the platform.  

Although inevitable, you can reduce its occurrence to a bare minimum. This article discussed in detail what out-of-stock e-commerce entails.


What is the out-of-stock problem?

The evolution of the e-commerce landscape has made online shopping enjoyable and pretty straightforward. Each online vendor integrates into their store features to make the customer’s shopping experience seamless.

They also recognize the importance of technical support and positive customer service to the success of their business.

Even with all of these optimizations, online vendors still have a lot of problems to grapple with. One of them is linked to stock-outs. 

While there are only a few possible out-of-stock results, such as customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue, there are several situations that can lead to stock-outs in the first place.


Inconsistency between product counts

One of the significant causes of out-of-stock is an inconsistency in product count or stock record, that is, the quantity of a particular product the vendor notes that is available.

There are four primary reasons why there may be inconsistencies in product count. They include:

  • Technical problems
  • Loss of goods because of theft or damage, shrinkage
  • Human error
  • Or any combination of the above-listed.

While it is impossible to measure, many errors in inventory management are due to human error. Miscounting products can be all too simple during busy shopping hours, particularly in retail shops.

Technical issues can also create differences between the number of products and the number of items. Many warehouses and delivery centres depend on computer-based stock control systems.

However, when specific networks have technical issues, like data centre downtime, or there is a lag in the coordination of two computerized systems, the differences between the number of items become more probable.

Perhaps a mixture of these two causes may be blamed for inventory inconsistencies. Much as it’s all too common for overwhelmed warehouse workers to miscount things by hand, it’s just as easy to get the wrong details into the inventory management system.


Inaccurate reporting and forecasting

Sudden spikes in market demand also cause stock-outs. However, poor forecasts or incorrect reports can often result in out-of-stock reporting.

If a vendor cannot successfully forecast the need for a particular commodity, there’s every possibility that an out-of-stock situation will arise soon, leaving shoppers feeling frustrated.

In the same vein, inaccurate reporting can trigger out-of-stock situations. Vendors can only make strategic decisions based on the available information to them.

If revenue figures are incorrect, making rational judgments about inventory transactions becomes even more difficult.


Delivery and Logistics Problems

While particular product management challenges are well under the control of stores, logistical problems are sometimes not.

Vendors can do only so much about logistics. Logistic problems aren’t always that straightforward. From a broken-down truck to sending a wrong shipment to a customer’s address, there’s so much that can happen.

If sent to the wrong address, the product becomes unavailable to the user who needs it.


What is the difference between sold out and out of stock?

Out of stock means that the store is temporarily unable to supply a product. Sold out on the other hand means that a product is a limited offer and will not be repeated. 


What Are the Effects of a Stock-out?

With the ever-increasing competitiveness in today’s e-commerce landscape, online vendors simply cannot afford to go out of stock.

They can make customers increasingly frustrated with your brand and create an overall bad image for your business. Itemized below are a handful of some of the effects of a stock-out:

  • Declining or slow business growth
  • Lost sales
  • Lost customers
  • Damaged brand and reputation
  • Negative customer reviews

You should understand that out-of-stock situations aren’t caused by unknown forces. There are specific reasons why an e-commerce store runs out of stock.


Managing an out-of-stock situation

As an e-commerce entrepreneur, when faced with an out-of-stock situation, one of the fastest ways to get yourself on track is by understanding how to reply to stock scenarios.


How do you reply out of stock?

It is terrible for your SEO to have 404 redirects. It tells Google that your site has many bugs and should not be ranked higher on the search results ranking page.

Having a product that goes out of stock is not fantastic, but there are specific techniques that you can integrate to minimize the damage caused by the out-of-stock product pages:

Get the visitors’ email

If the item is currently out of stock and the e-commerce website will restock it shortly, it is wise to ask customers to forward their email to update the availability as soon as the product returns in stock.

Not only can you improve the chances of attracting customers back to your shop, but you also get the visitor’s email so you can promote future offers and updates.

Clarify your stock size

One of the most common errors that most e-commerce websites make is that they do not make the stock’s size clear.

For instance, a buyer shopping for a shoe size may go through several photos of the merchandise they want to purchase and store them in their cart only to figure out that their shoe size isn’t available when they are checking out.

Display the stock status

If your item is not available, declare it. You don’t want to mislead your customers by giving out confusing alerts and notifications.

The technique you can use is to fade out your add to the cart button so that the customer knows that the good is not available.

As mentioned above, please also ensure that consumers understand if the product is not available at all or if it’s only one size that’s out of stock.

Don’t display out-of-stock products

If a product is out of stock, you have the option of not putting it up on your platform at all. This can save customers the hassles of adding goods to their cart only to find out later that they are unavailable. 

Have channel availability displayed

If your company sells through other networks like physical stores, suggest showing the inventory available for each channel.

Products may not be available from your online store, but they may be in stock at a physical store near your customer. You may also provide some click-and-collect services.

Offer replacement products

It’s a brilliant idea to include a few product tips on your product description list. Consider doing the same when a commodity is out of stock.

Direct your customer to similar or alternative products. For instance, “Sorry, the deluxe cooler with the 22-sodium-can capacity is out of stock, but we have the 30-sodium-can size available.”

Email and Text notification

Offer your customers ways to submit their email addresses for updates when the products become available. Having an estimated date when the date will be available, these notifications can bring you more sales and increased visibility for your products.

A conscientious customer may be able to wait for your business to restock rather than go to a competition.

You might even convert customers who weren’t ready to purchase when they landed on your out-of-stock section. Given a little more time and a “the wait is over” email message, they could be considering an order. Consider, too, offering customers who sign up for a discount voucher when the product is back in inventory.

Show out-of-stock notifications on categories and search pages 

Updates out-of-stock should not be restricted to product description sections. Consider finding out-of-stock items as they appear on product category sites or search results pages.

Your website may display out-of-stock products in black and white rather than colour or add an out-of-stock banner.

Push the products out of stock to the bottom of the search and group pages

Finally, try pushing out-of-stock items to the end of the product list and the search results page. Moving these products to the bottom of these list pages places the items available first, which leads to less dissatisfied customers.



Having your customers come to your out-of-stock product section is not a terrible thing. This is because You have the potential to establish a great shopping experience for them from a disadvantaged viewpoint.

You should guide what to do next, rather than being repeatedly sorry and apologising. Be innovative and creative.

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