While it's great to see your stock fly off the shelves, you can't sell products that you don't have or that are on backorder—and that means lost profits.

Even before the pandemic, stockouts cost retailers almost $1 billion annually.

Stockouts are a problem for all retailers. But they're especially concerning for e-commerce stores because, unlike omnichannel sellers, when online retailers sell out of a product online, their customers can't go to a brick-and-mortar location (or check another store if the first is sold out).

Rather than simply lose profits when products sell out, you can capture customers' information and retain their business with back-in-stock notifications.

What are back-in-stock notifications?

Back-in-stock notifications are a great way to keep customers informed when you restock an item that has sold out. By sending your customers a text, email, or other notification when the product is back in stock, they don't have to worry about missing out on their desired purchase.

This allows them to take advantage of the opportunity to buy a product they know they want—and they can get what they need quickly and easily. Not only does this make life easier for your customers, but it also ensures that you do not lose any potential sales due to a lack of inventory.

How do they work?

Usually, customers opt-in to receive notifications through a sign-up form on the product page of the item they want. And brands set up their own inventory system to trigger a message notifying the customer when the item is back in stock.

2 key messages to send

There are two key messages involved in back-in-stock notifications: the confirmation text and the restock message.

The confirmation text is sent to customers after they have opted into back-in-stock notifications via a sign-up form on your website or app. This first message informs customers that you have received their request for notifications about a particular item and offers them an opportunity to confirm their desire for such notifications, usually through double opt-in. Using this text as an opportunity to confirm you have the right information ensures that only those who truly want such notifications are added to your list of contacts.

The restock alert notifies customers when you have restocked a particular item they requested information about. These will typically include details like product name or any special deals/discounts associated with the restock event.

How to set up back-in-stock notifications

Setting up these notifications requires establishing a system for customers to sign up, including a way to collect and store their information. You'll also need to plan for how you'll notify customers once you restock.

Encourage customers to sign up

The first step is creating a sign-up form for your online store. Collaborate with a website developer to create a special widget or integrate the form directly into the website as a pop-up or on the side panel of product pages. This will make the form easy for customers to identify and fill out when they find an out-of-stock product they want.

Be sure to capture information like the customer's name, email, and phone number. It's also a good idea to ask how they'd like to receive notifications, so you know how to notify them when the product they want is back in stock.

Choose a marketing platform

Once you have collected all the necessary customer information, you need to choose a platform to send out your back-in-stock alerts. SMS (short message service) is one of the most effective ways to do so since most customers already use their phones for shopping.

Plus, by choosing a tool that you can easily integrate into your Shopify, Amazon, or WooCommerce site, you can make the whole process even more efficient. That's because connecting the messaging platform you choose to your online shop makes it easy to automate the notification process because you're already keeping track of what products are popular and which need restocking.

3 key things to include in your back-in-stock message

When sending back-in-stock messages, it is important to include enough details to answer all of the customer's questions without overwhelming them with a long message. This will help them make informed decisions about their purchases and keep them coming back for more!

1. A clear subject line

When you create back-in-stock notifications, it is important to be clear and concise. This will help customers identify the notification quickly and decide whether they want to open it or not.

If customers opt to receive back-in-stock emails, write a subject line that's straightforward and attention-grabbing, such as "Sold-Out Products Back In Stock." 

If you're notifying customers via text message, be sure to mention the restock within the first three words of your text to ensure subscribers see the most important keyword in the message preview. Just in case, they were debating not opening the text.

2. Motivation to make the purchase

In addition to a clear subject line, be sure to motivate your customers to make the purchase as soon as possible. Encourage customers to take advantage of stock availability by highlighting exclusive offers or limited-time discounts.

You may also want to include language that capitalizes on the customer's desire to buy the product, such as "Don't wait—we only restocked a limited run!" which can further drive customers to buy. But be careful not to pressure customers; you don't want them to unsubscribe from your message list.

3. A link for interested buyers

Finally, it is important to include a link to the product page where customers can buy the out-of-stock item they have expressed interest in. Providing an easily accessible link will make it easier for customers to purchase the item and complete the transaction quickly. Alternatively, you can build an add-to-cart button directly into the SMS and email notifications you send.

CTAs are particularly helpful for customers who are accessing your website from mobile devices since they are likely trying to find something fast but have limited screen space and slow loading speeds. By including CTAs that direct users directly to a product page, they will save time while still being able to make their purchases without any hassle.

Keep customers in the loop with SMS

Back-in-stock notifications are an invaluable tool for keeping customers informed and engaged when products run out of stock. By setting up a system to capture customer information and leveraging SMS as the preferred channel, you can ensure that your customers never miss out on purchasing their desired item. Plus, by including key messages like welcome texts and cross-selling messages, you will be able to build deeper connections and drive more sales!

Learn more about how SMS marketing helps ecommerce brands grow by better engaging with customers!