In stock! How to get the most benefit from stock alerts

It is becoming increasingly important to provide consumers with correct stock information. Certain products have a longer delivery time due to a shortage of raw materials or are temporarily no longer available at all. In addition, dropshipping is extremely popular, with consumers – without knowing it – sometimes having to wait weeks for an order. Incorrect inventory and shipping information can overwhelm customer service or cause the customer not to order at all, causing you to lose sales. In addition, whether or not to show stocks also has an impact on your SEO and SEA. Actively working with your inventory strategy will not only increase your conversions, but it can also provide more insights. You know better when products need to be ordered. Which notifications are best to use and what exactly does that yield?

Why is it important to pass on your stock?

Unlike many websites where static content is often used, a webshop is much more dynamic. But due to the high turnover rate of products and pages, there is a chance that turnover will leak due to the display of incorrect stock information. It is also possible that you are still advertising a completely sold out product.

This may have an impact on your SEO. Search results with so-called rich snippets have a higher CTR (click-through-rate) than results without these snippets. One of these rich snippets is the stock notification. You immediately give the signal in Google that the product is in stock and can be ordered. That is also the case vice versa. If you (accidentally) state with the product that the product is not in stock, your CTR will drop correspondingly.

What are the advantages of stock indications?

Many companies have now realized that products that are now (temporarily) out of stock can still provide a conversion. How do you get that done? in this article read. This is of course no different for products that are still in stock. However, many companies do not use all the possibilities.

Showing a good stock notification on all your communication channels can ensure a higher conversion. For example, the Hornbach hardware store went live in February 2021 with the functionality Local Inventory ads and saw the conversion value triple compared to the ‘normal’ Shopping ads. Clear stock notifications ensure reliability and reduce consumer doubts. The result is higher turnover and happy customers.

What options/choices are there and when do you choose which option?

If we look at stock notifications, the basis is of course whether or not the product is in stock. A good stock notification for products that can still be ordered is very important and can immediately lead to an order. A good stock notification is not only visible on the webshop itself, but can also be displayed in other places.

1. Show stock notification with the product

With a notification ‘in stock’ you can already show the consumer that the product can be ordered immediately. More and more webshops are the principles of Cialdini (such as scarcity) to apply. As a result, you see notifications such as ‘1 product available’, where the hope is that consumers will be informed by FOMO (fear of missing out) order the product directly. You will also see push notifications, which emphasize the fact that the product is almost sold out.

On the other hand, you can also see the message ‘in stock’ when thousands of pieces are available. As soon as you show notifications such as ‘1000 units available’, it can actually scare the consumer and they may start to wonder whether it is the right product.

Or don’t share stock information

You can choose not to share inventory information from a competitive perspective. A stock notification with numbers of pieces says something about the way of purchasing. Is there a lot in stock? Then that can mean that you expect that there will be a lot of demand for the product. It can say something about your purchasing power or it can give your competitor ideas by buying the product in large quantities.

Another reason for companies not to show an exact stock is because there is no stock link. Or it has been decided to only request the stock status as soon as the customer wants to pay, instead of this information being automatically forwarded via a so-called stock attribute.

Make sure your customer is not faced with unpleasant surprises

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that a correct stock notification is shown with a product. It is a death knell for the customer journey if the customer is told in the shopping cart (when a check is often made in the stock system) or after ordering that the product is no longer in stock.

Show the stock notification everywhere

Some shops choose to only show this stock notification on the product page. My advice is to show the notification wherever the product can be found. For example, think of category pages, search results, in the shopping cart itself or in the internal search results.

Do you also sell through other channels such as your own store and do you have a good overview of your stock? choose to make this stock available for click & collect. It is important that the store stock is actually correct! There is nothing more annoying than receiving a message after ordering that the product is not in stock.

A good stock notification on your webshop is therefore crucial. Make sure that at least one correct message can be found.

2. Stock notification in Google search results

If we go a step back in the funnel, we often end up at Google. You can also show your stock there in different ways.

Show as rich snippet

In the template of schema.org for products you will find the heading ‘availability’. This allows you to indicate whether a product is ‘in stock’, ‘out of stock’ or whether it is a ‘pre-order product’. The advantage is that this information is often shown in the search results, so that interested parties can immediately see whether the product can be ordered.

Some webshop owners choose to give the value ‘in stock’ by default, in the hope that people will visit the shop and then order a related product. To avoid a high bounce, it is better to provide as accurate a value as possible. Learn more about the different types of rich snippets and how to implement them here. Do you want to see if the rich snippets have been implemented properly? Then use the Google testing tool.

Do you first need to convince your team to use rich snippets? Then you can do this tool to show what it might look like for your product.

Show in Google Ads

Do you choose to use Google Shopping? Then you can also show a stock notification there. In addition, Google offers the ‘local inventory’. Google not only shows where you can buy the product in your area, but it now also shows notifications in Google Shopping, such as: ‘in store’. So do you not only sell online, but also through physical stores? Then you can boost your sales with this functionality. The great thing is that adding this inventory information is part of your Google Shopping budget and therefore does not incur any additional costs.

Do you want to start using local inventory? Then a party like Channable help you further with that.

With the local inventory-functionality, Google tries to prevent visitors from going directly to a marketplace such as Amazon or bol.com to search for a product.

Example of inventory notification in Google Ads.

In this case, a brand such as Fabienne Chapot with various stores in the Netherlands can also choose to use the local inventory ads. This way the customer can pick up the dress in the store today.

3. Show products in stock on social media

Do you sell products through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram? Then you can also pass on and show the availability there. In the catalog where you collect all products, there is also a tab with stock available. It is important to keep track of the available stock here as well. You naturally want to prevent a customer from ordering a product only to find out that the product is sold out.

Instagram Checkout

Instagram Checkout even allows customers to purchase the product directly without leaving the Instagram app. Currently, this feature is only available in the US.

Get a head start on your competitor

If you are going to look at correct stock notifications, you should certainly not limit yourself to just the webshop. There are several channels where you can optimize further. The good news is that not many companies have these notifications high on their priority list yet, so there is still a lot to gain.

But think critically about the possibilities. Where the rich snippets can be implemented by anyone, the local inventory in Google Ads only makes sense if there is a collection point or if you have a physical store. Only use stock notifications on your social media channels if you are actively engaged in your social media. Do you show products in your Instagram feed? Then tag the right products. Here too you must ensure that the correct stock is passed on.

Stock and shipping

Many webshops also use the stock notification to provide the consumer with information about the shipment. For example, Wehkamp sometimes uses ‘with 2 weeks in stock’ if the product is not in stock and at other times ‘2 more in stock’ when the product is almost out of stock. If there is sufficient supply, it says ‘tomorrow in the house’.

Screenshot of Wehkamp.

Source: wehkamp.nl

It happens that a product is in stock, but that the product is at an external warehouse or at the supplier itself. You may then be inclined to report this as ‘in stock at the supplier’ or ‘in stock at an external warehouse’. However, such a notification is not recommended. The consumer may start to doubt and information about an external warehouse is not relevant. Does a product have a longer shipping time because the product is stored in an external warehouse, so that you cannot fulfill a promise such as ‘ordered today, delivered tomorrow’? It is then smarter to display a message such as: ‘in stock, 1-2 days delivery time’.

Avoid a touch of drop shipment

If you have your own stock with your own warehouses, then you naturally want to avoid that touch of drop shipment. Drop shipping is getting an increasingly negative connotation among consumers. More and more ‘cowboys’ start using it and have consumers wait for weeks due to poor information. The most commonly used stock notification on a dropshipment webshop is ‘ordered today, shipped tomorrow’. It does not state that it is shipped from China with a waiting time of several weeks.

One last tip: don’t ‘fraud’ with stock numbers. Many “boost your ecommerce sales” lists tell you to tap into the FOMO feel with customers. For example, if there are still 3 pieces in stock and you choose to show this with a product to make the customer decide faster to buy the product. In itself nothing at all, because it can indeed be a conversion booster. But be honest about that. Customers will notice quickly enough if the number is incorrect. Think, for example, of a product of which 3 pieces are still in stock, but the customer can order more. Or that the number of pieces is not adjusted after purchase. Many customers revisit the product page after a purchase.

Do consumers have the option to leave their details in case of a sold out product? Then you can also better estimate how much more needs to be ordered. But in addition, you can determine together with the SEA team which products are disappointing in sales, so that you can devise a strategy for this together.

And don’t forget the impact on customer service. As soon as you provide a (potential) customer with as much information as possible up front, the chance that the customer will contact you is much smaller. By showing your stock information on all communications, you will also see an increase in the number of conversions and you will prevent turnover from leaking out.


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