How To Handle Out Of Stock And Discontinued Products

No matter how you use Endless Aisles, it’s possible a product in your online catalog becomes discontinued or out of stock. If changes to a product occur, it’s vital to notify your customers – both those who have those products on Auto-Ship and those who have previously purchased those items. Often retailers are preoccupied by their store’s everyday activities and forget to contact the online shopper until days later. With this delay, the chance that customers are disappointed with the news becomes greater. Thus, it is important to act fast before a delayed response impacts the customer’s experience.

Here are some best practices for updating your online customers:

Notify Customers

Send a newsletter with product updates to your customers informing them of any changes. If a customer already bought one of these products, send them a personalized email with an apology. This will help ensure that your customers open and read the message. If a customer is on auto-ship and the product is discontinued, let them know as soon as you find out. The earlier you notify your customers, the less likely they will be upset with the news. Luckily Shopify has tons of reporting so that you can easily identify customers who have purchased specific products in the past.

Provide A Reason

If Phillips or Endless Aisles gave you a reason for the discontinuation, be sure to send that information along to your customer. It is helpful for customers to know that the product change was due to lack of popularity, or an ingredient recall. This also reassures customers that the discontinuation happened across all stores, not just your store. By providing a reason, you will stop your customer from looking elsewhere for that product and focus their attention on finding a replacement within your catalog.

Offer Alternative Products

Ask the customer for the reason why they chose that product and try to think of any other item in your catalog that has the same criteria. Be sure to give a few options.  If there is an alternative product that is similar to the discontinued item but more expensive, still recommend it. If the customer hesitates, provide a discount on their first purchase. Nothing helps secure a sale more than a discount after a merchandising error.


Sometimes a customer is not willing to change to an alternative food, in this case, be sure to let them know you have refunded them. This, along with an apology, assures your customers this merchandising update will not negatively impact them.

We hope these tips help you to handle the unexpected challenges of managing an online store. For more information on communicating with a customer after a purchase, check out our article on Creating Great Cart Abandonment Emails.

By Phoebe Mcgee