Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a shortage of commodities in trade - for example when yeast or hygiene products, disinfectants were temporarily unavailable, or when certain vitamins and supplements were missing from shelves and online stores. These situations were only exacerbated by, among other things, the Evergiven "accident" in the Suez Canal, which supplies parts to furniture stores.
Although you can't replace the missing products from scratch, you can prepare your webshop to communicate the temporary lack of stock. If you accept the suggestions below, you can handle the shortage of goods properly without losing your customers.
The stock shortage does not mean that you are breaking the law
For some reason, there is a widespread misconception that if a dealership is unable to serve a particular product, it is infringing. This is not true, temporary stock shortages can occur and do not constitute an infringement, but customers should be notified of stock shortages and should not advertise or promote products that are out of stock (and will not be available for a while).
Instead of having an inactive product page, communicate the shortage on that page
Do not remove the missing product page from your webshop due to Google results and other considerations (such as a shared product page link on social media, blogs, website, etc.). Use it instead for communication: state on the page if it's not currently available, for example, write "To order" in the product information. It is unfortunate to write that it is sold out because it seems final, sealed, and gives the impression that it can no longer be ordered.
You can display "Temporary stock shortage" or "Temporary product shortage" warning on the results and category pages of your web store. It is also possible to list the currently missing product in a different color, such as light gray.
You can also provide an explanation for the temporary inventory shortage, stating the reasons - if they are public. It is especially important to communicate this if your product has run out due to high interest. These are typically seasonal goods, products that offer a solution to an unexpected problem, or individual products or product packages in webshops selling handicrafts.
Let your customers know when the product is available again when you can ship it
Make sure to provide all public information about when the temporarily unavailable merchandise will be available again in the webstore if the date is known.
You can also notify your customers separately when your product can be re-ordered by offering them a newsletter subscription. The subscription popup window (which you can set up in your webstore using, for example, the ConvKit message display application) should preferably also appear on the product page of the missing item.
Collecting newsletter subscribers later is also good for informing your visitors and customers about promotions, changes, and news.
Always answer questions from social networking sites, email, chat, and phone. Being polite and accurate in a critical situation will increase customer satisfaction as well as their commitment to become returning customers.
Suggest a replacement product
This is not irregular at all. It is possible that the goods offered are also suitable for your customer, thus reducing the chances of leaving your webshop without making a purchase.
You can also recommend similar products, smaller or larger than the missing goods, and you can also show the stock of similar products. Usually, in the case of clothes, fashion items, shoes, it is customary to indicate the quantities and the products that can be ordered according to color, pattern, and size. But technical items (phones, consumer electronics, coffee makers, etc.) are also available in multiple colors and are labeled accordingly.
If you also run a physical store next to the webshop and you can buy the missing product from the online store there, direct your customers there.