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Saving eCommerce Stockouts: 3 Ways Retailers Handle Out-of-Stock Items

by Justin Palmer - January 22nd, 2008

The ultimate disappointment for a customer is viewing the product page of an item they really want, and finding it’s not available. Recently, I came across several sites that take a unique approach with handling out-of-stock or discontinued items.

Example #1: Lancome-USA

Makeup retailer Lancome offers an extremely innovative “Since you liked… Now you’ll Love” feature to satisfy customers looking for discontinued makeup. This is a great sale-saver for picky customers looking for that perfect color.

Lancome Discontinued Item feature

Example #2: BPAV

It’s not uncommon for customers to land on the product page of an out-of-stock item either through the site navigation or directly from a search engine. If an item on your site is only temporarily out, a great way to save the sale (and capture an opt-in email addy) is letting customer request to be emailed when it’s re-stocked. BPAV.com does this nicely with their “Notify Me When It’s Back in Stock” feature.

Example #3: Threadless

Displaying “Old” items on a separate product listings page can have it’s advantages. Customers may want to compare new items to old ones, or maybe they need information on a product they already own. Threadless displays sold out or retired t-shirts separately and allows customers to request the design to be re-printed. Very innovative if you ask me.

In addition, Threadless also emphasizes urgency for in-stock items by showing a inventory level indicator on every product page. Messages like “A few in-stock” or “Only 2 Left” help turn browsers into buyers.

I believe eCommerce sites that innovate with useful and brand building features such as these will continue to thrive. Seen any other creative eCommerce site functions lately? Be sure to leave a comment.


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8 Responses to “Saving eCommerce Stockouts: 3 Ways Retailers Handle Out-of-Stock Items” by Justin Palmer

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  2. grassroots Says:

    Nice post, I hadnt thought long and hard about this side of things & it makes alot of sense. The more articles like this the better :)

    Particularly liked the urgency indicator, I was initially concerned that exposing the exact stock levels might also be a turn off for some customers, but in reality you only need show information when there are only 1/2 left.

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