Handling Permanently Out-of-Stock Products

Handling Permanently Out-of-Stock Products

We’ve previously covered temporarily out-of-stock products, so now I want to discuss how we should handle products that will not be coming back in stock. 

When this happens, we need to consider guiding both users and search engines toward relevant alternatives.

What to do with Out-of-Stock Products

The typical way to handle products that will not be coming back in stock is to use 301 redirects, but that is not always the right approach.

Let’s look at when to redirect and when leaving the URL as a 404 might make the most sense. 

Product Unavailability

When a product is permanently out of stock, it means that the item will not be restocked or made available once again in the future. When this happens, we need an effective strategy to guide users toward similar and currently available products.

Rather than leaving customers with a dead-end or a generic “out of stock” message, using a 301 to redirect them to an alternative product ensures a positive user experience.

Before implementing a 301 redirect, find a closely related product that is in stock and can serve as an alternative. This ensures that users are redirected to a relevant option.

Redirect is Not Always Needed

If a closely related product is not available, the best approach is often to leave the product as a 404.

If you were to use a 301 to an irrelevant product, this could negatively affect the user experience and, therefore, your conversions. Leaving the product as a 404 is a perfectly acceptable approach.

You can also consider using a 410 to indicate that the page is Gone and is not due to return.

Remembering this and knowing how to handle product unavailability appropriately will help ensure the correct setup of your store and should help set you up for success as it grows. 

If you’re looking for help growing your eCommerce store, I can help. Whether it’s a technical website audit or monthly SEO consultancy, I’d love to chat with you in more detail. 


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