To Hide or Not to Hide: What Should You Do with Out-Of-Stock Products in Your Shopify Store?

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By Staff Writer

Updated April 3, 2024.

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Sometimes, despite your best efforts, products in your store go out of stock. That’s part of the game in eCommerce – and it’s not changing any time soon.

Stores go out of stock for all sorts of reasons – and it’s not always the shop owner’s fault. Maybe there was an unexpected spike in sales, which is a perfect thing. Or maybe their supplier left them hanging. In any case, this happens to every store owner at some point.

If you find yourself in any of those positions within your Shopify store – regardless of the reason – the fact remains the same: you have to figure out what to do with the out-of-stock items. If you leave them in their place among the other available products with a big ‘out of stock’ message, there’s a chance your customers won’t respond the way you want them to.

So What Do You Do?

Do you remove them from your product catalog? Do you leave them as is, showing the out of stock items? Are there any other options? What if there was a solution that addressed the out-of-stock items in your Shopify store without sacrificing the overall value of your shop?

We’ll explain how managing out-of-stock products in two different ways could solve your problem and give your shop an extra traffic boost, too.

So, here are some potential effects to consider.

Consideration #1: Undesirable UX

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The User Experience (UX) is that thing in a site that makes the visitors feel comfy. It’s the clicks and paths and visuals and invisible communication that put them at ease, even though they couldn’t tell you why – and it’s a massive part of what keeps them in the buying mood.

The UX and the right merchandising is so important, it’s reported that over a trillion dollars are lost in eCommerce due to undesirable user experience!

Now let’s say you go to a brick and mortar store – and you’re pumped up to shop for a new pair of shoes. You walk in the door, and you see bright fluorescent lights reflecting off the empty shelves where your shoes should be sitting. It isn’t very reassuring, to say the least.

The same goes for your Shopify store. The customer is coming there to look for something to buy – and they expect to be greeted with all of your finest options. When they see the out-of-stock product right off the bat, it could create disappointment, and even send them packing back to the search page.

And when they do that, Google sees it, and it affects your SEO.

Consideration #2: SEO Impact

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Let’s say from the above example; the customer entered your store from a search engine results page (SERP). They quickly saw the out-of-stock products and clicked back to the SERP to look for another shop.

If you’re on the front page of Google, the Google algorithm then records your site for having a low dwell time.

The dwell time is the amount of time a customer hangs out on your site before returning to the SERP, and it’s the metric Google uses to assess your site’s usefulness – i.e., if your website is useful, the customer stays longer. If your site doesn’t meet the customers’ needs, they bounce back.

If you have your out-of-stock items displayed front and center – so it’s the first thing your customers see when they click into your store – you run the risk of nudging them back to the SERP and clicking the next link straight to your competitor. This, in turn, results in a low dwell rate and a lower SEO ranking.

So let’s talk about some options to improve both user experience and SEO using out-of-stock items.

After considering the above two problems your Shopify store may face for openly displaying ‘out of stock’ items, it’s time you see what your options are for dealing with it. The easiest solution is to hide out of stock products within your store. However, the easiest option is not always the best.

Easy Option: Hide Out-Of-Stock Products (Make Unavailable)

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With this option, you would use an app to identify the out-of-stock product and remove it from your inventory. That would benefit in some way you because it would:

  • Never get your customers’ hopes up in the first place
  • Make the rest of your products appear plentiful and inviting
  • Increase your chances of making other sales now (as opposed to the possibility they may want the out of stock product and wait for it to come back).

While this option is easy, it does have a negative impact. When you choose to hide the out-of-stock products entirely, you end up only displaying the products you have available in your store. When that happens, you run the risk of showing too few, thus creating the impression of an “empty” store, which isn’t inviting to the customer.

In this case, you have to consider the percentage of out-of-stock items against all the available products in your store. Hiding out-of-stock items completely when they comprise 80% of your total number of products, for example, would not be the best decision.

So what do you do?

The Smartest Option: "Hide" Out-Of-Stock Products by Pushing Them to the Bottom of Collections

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While hiding out-of-stock products from sight altogether is a good way to avoid any confusion for the customer – it’s not necessarily a catch-all as discussed above.

  • What about catching customers’ interest in the product for the future?
  • What about creating an impression of high demand and a living, breathing store?
  • What about the traffic loss when Google de-indexes your products?
  • What about your inventory cycles and re-stocks?

When you choose to push out-of-stock items to the bottom, instead of removing them entirely, those issues are addressed in a much better way.

Pushing your out of stock products to the bottom helps you out by:

  • Making sure they’re technically “out of sight” in your store,
  • Giving yourself a chance to manage inventory cycles better,
  • Generating interest and credibility throughout the rest of the inventory, and
  • Creating an “in-demand” mentality once the customer reaches the bottom.
Best for effortlessly managing out-of-stock items in your Shopify store
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Out-of-Stock Police

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Out-of-Stock Police by EGNITION is a powerful tool designed to optimize and automate the management of out-of-stock items in your Shopify store. The app ensures a streamlined process, automatically pushing sold-out products to the bottom of collections or hiding them until restocked.

Out-of-Stock Police offers a straightforward interface, though setup may take a little time for automated workflows. Its natural integration with Shopify and available customer support make it an excellent choice, especially for beginners.

  • Push sold-out products in collections automatically in real-time.
  • Hide out-of-stock products the smart way to keep organic traffic.
  • Receive low-stock and out-of-stock notifications to your email or in-app.
  • Export and download low-stock and out-of-stock products for re-stock planning.
  • Improve SEO and generate more assisted conversions with out-of-stock products.

Free plan available for up to 49 products.

Easy-to-use interface for efficient inventory management.

Customized sorting rules for tailored product displays.

Automated workflows to save time and effort.

Boosted SEO performance for increased visibility.

Can have a slight learning curve.

Not only that, but this keeps your items indexed in Google and other search engines, so you still appear during searches, and when they click into your store:

  • You get the chance to gain an email subscriber with an out-of-stock notification,
  • You give your customer a chance to stay engaged with your other recommended products, which increases dwell time, and as a result, improve your overall SEO efforts and keep organic traffic flowing.

Try Out-of-Stock Police Shopify app to never worry about your out-of-stock items again – because it’ll do the dirty work for you. Out-of-Stock Police will push out-of-stock items to the bottom of the collections every day. Your customers can enjoy everything else in your store while you capture more leads, optimize inventory management, and do what you do best: sell your products.

Out-Of-Stock Conundrum. What's Your Decision?

So, what do you think? To hide, or not to hide?

You’ve already made your Shopify store into something great – you’ve got the best products, the best service, and the ambition to improve. When the inevitable ‘out of stock’ happens, you have an opportunity to use it to your advantage, instead of risking the chance that you’ll send the wrong message.

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