Here is a tip for e-commerce web sites with shopping carts that indicate “Out of Stock” for items that are sold out. You may avoid cart abandonment by answering this question: “Are you getting in any more?”

When testing shopping carts, I’m always happy to see a back-end that communicates product availability. It’s too frustrating to get to the end of the purchase process, submit the order and then receive an email that the item is unavailable.

Using the example below, two sizes are out of stock.  The third size is still available, but customers may be nervous.  Is there only 1 left?  Should they hurry up then?  Are there 3 left and there’s some time to shop around more?  Does adding to the cart “hold” the item for any length of time?

For the two items that are out of stock, are more on order?  If so, a date for when they will become available again is helpful.  A link to sign up for an email alert when items are re-stocked is another idea.  You’ll note a phone number is not nearby. Some customers feel better when they can place a call to customer service in cases where they really want an item and there are signals to them, such as below, that the item may not be available. In this instance, it’s on sale. It could be on clearance and not coming back.  There’s nothing wrong with telling visitors that the item is on clearance. This sends a different message that simply being “on sale”.

In addition, in cases like this one, related items can be placed nearby.  If another denim overall is in stock, even at a higher price, it can still be shown as an alternative.


Remember that with online sales, your visitors have questions and feelings when they enter your store.  You want them to feel confident and educated at each step in the purchase process.  There are many ways to increase conversions, as you can see.  “Out of Stock” should never be a reason for site abandonment. Rather, it can used as a way to retain interest and keep the shopping process going, as if you’re walking beside your customer while they browse your site.

Regarding the image, the only view is the front.  What does the back look like?  Are there snaps or buttons in the legs?  How expandable are the shoulder straps?  A common problem with online sales are with the product images themselves.  They don’t show off the item.  Since customers can’t touch the item to inspect it, web pages must work harder to emulate that experience.

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

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