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What to Do if Your Shopify Supplier Is Out of Stock

Don't let stock shortages cripple your business. Learn immediate and long-term methods to tackle supplier issues while keeping customers engaged.

a woman with long hair and a turtle neck sweater
By Sandra Stepan
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Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni
Joel Taylor
Fact-check by Joel Taylor

Updated March 11, 2024.

A Shopify store owner holding a box and a cell phone in contact with her Shopify suppliers

For eCommerce businesses, stock shortages from suppliers can be a nightmare scenario, wreaking havoc on operations and customer satisfaction. When items run out of stock, sales plummet, cash flow tightens, and customer trust erodes rapidly. Disappointed shoppers may seek alternative sources, which could make it difficult for you to retain their loyalty.

Stockouts cost US and Canadian retailers an estimated $350 billion annually, highlighting the significant financial impact of inventory mismanagement. However, with proactive measures and comprehensive strategies, you can navigate these challenges and reinforce your commitment to customer satisfaction and business reliability.

Meet the Expert

Sandra Stepan, co-founder of SnapAdvantage, has 10 years in digital marketing, focusing on e-commerce expansion. With success in building 7-figure brands, she amplifies growth for top brands. An industry leader, Sandra is a trusted expert for marketing excellence.

The Ripple Effect of Stock Shortages

Addressing stock shortages promptly is crucial to maintaining healthy inventory levels and ensuring smooth business operations. The consequences of stockouts can severely impact various aspects of your enterprise.

Reduced Revenue and Strained Cash Flow

Depleted inventory directly translates to a decline in sales revenue, leading to cash flow strain. This disruption can compromise your ability to sustain seamless operations, making the financial consequences of stock shortages a pressing concern.

Operational Disruptions

Limited cash flow caused by stockouts can severely hamper your business's operational capabilities. The financial strain can disrupt day-to-day functioning, from paying staff promptly to covering essential expenses.

Increased Customer Complaints

When desired products are unavailable, disappointed customers inevitably lead to an influx of complaints. Meeting expectations becomes challenging, putting your customer service team under immense pressure to handle the potential onslaught of dissatisfaction.

Trust Erosion

Consistency is essential to building customer trust. Still, stock shortages that prevent timely purchases can erode that hard-earned trust. Once lost, regaining customer confidence demands significant time and effort, jeopardizing the loyalty of your valuable customer base.

» Avoid these effects and hide out-of-stock products

Immediate Steps to Take When Your Shopify Supplier is Out of Stock

1. Contact Your Supplier

When faced with an out-of-stock situation, the first crucial step is to establish clear and direct communication with your supplier. Confirm the out-of-stock status and authenticity of the situation, inquiring about:

  • Expected timelines for restocking
  • Potential backup options or alternatives to offer customers
  • Due dates and expectations regarding stock replenishment

Transparent communication allows you to gather vital insights for effectively managing customer expectations on delivery times. However, be mindful of potential challenges associated with supplier responsiveness and delays, necessitating a proactive and persistent approach.

2. Order Fulfillment Reassessment

In tandem with supplier communications, reassessing your order fulfillment strategy is crucial. Evaluate your current inventory to determine if you can fulfill existing demand with available stock. If viable:

  • Promptly communicate this to customers to manage expectations
  • Explore alternative suppliers for the needed product
  • Build relationships with multiple suppliers as a strategic buffer
  • Fulfill orders with current stock to minimize business disruptions

If fulfilling orders with existing inventory is possible, communicate this proactive step transparently to instill customer confidence in your business's ability to meet their needs.

» Learn more about back-in-stock notifications and how to set them up

Long-term Methods for Managing Out-of-Stock Products

While immediate steps are crucial, proactive long-term strategies are necessary to mitigate future stock shortages and maintain business continuity.

1. Leverage Shopify Features

Shopify equips businesses with powerful tools to effectively navigate out-of-stock scenarios while maintaining customer satisfaction.

  • Real-time inventory tracking keeps your website updated instantly when products become unavailable, preventing orders from being fulfilled.
  • Automated alerts and bulk messaging capabilities streamline communication about stock shortages and delays, ensuring transparency with your customer base.
  • Back-in-stock notifications foster customer anticipation and loyalty, driving quicker purchases when restocked items become available.
  • Centralized multi-channel management allows for dynamic marketing adjustments based on stock levels.

These features enhance transparency, prevent unfulfillable orders, and foster customer engagement, ensuring a consistent brand experience during stock shortages.

2. Diversify Your Supplier Relationships

Establish connections with multiple suppliers for the same product, maintaining a preferred vendor for optimal pricing and delivery times while securing backup options. Proactively cultivate these relationships before facing shortages to build a reliable network.

You should continually broaden your supplier network by fostering relationships with various vendors. Avoid relying solely on a single supplier, ensuring a consistent and diverse source of products to meet customer demand effectively, even when multiple suppliers are out of stock.

3. Use Third-Party Apps to Manage your Inventory Better

Managing your out-of-stock items on your online store can be time-consuming, especially regarding manual actions, which can be prone to errors. Third-party apps can come in handy in such situations.

The three useful Shopify apps below by EGNITION automate tasks, freeing up your time and allowing you to focus on growing your business. Whether inventory management or analytics, third-party apps streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

Best for managing out-of-stock products


Screenshot of Egnition's Out-of-Stock Police's app page on a blue background

Out-of-Stock Police

Efficient out-of-stock product management

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Customer support

24/7 availability

Free trial

7 days

Automated workflows

Save time with seamless processes

Out-of-Stock Police by EGNITION is a powerful tool designed to optimize and automate the management of out-of-stock items in your Shopify store. The app ensures a streamlined process, automatically pushing sold-out products to the bottom of collections or hiding them until restocked.

Out-of-Stock Police offers a straightforward interface, though setup may take a little time for automated workflows. Its natural integration with Shopify and available customer support make it an excellent choice, especially for beginners.

  • Push sold-out products in collections automatically in real-time.
  • Hide out-of-stock products the smart way to keep organic traffic.
  • Receive low-stock and out-of-stock notifications to your email or in-app.
  • Export and download low-stock and out-of-stock products for re-stock planning.
  • Improve SEO and generate more assisted conversions with out-of-stock products.

Free plan for up to 49 products

Easy-to-use interface for efficient inventory management

Customized sorting rules for tailored product displays

Automated workflows to save time and effort

Boosted SEO performance for increased visibility

Can have a slight learning curve

Best for multi-store Shopify owners


Multi-Store Sync Power Shopify app

Multi-Store Sync Power

Ideal solution for seamless Shopify inventory sync

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Customer support

24/7 availability

Free trial

7 days

Automated workflows

Real-time inventory syncing

The Multi‑Store Sync Power app by EGNITION is a comprehensive solution designed for merchants managing multiple Shopify stores. It facilitates automatic synchronization and real-time updates of inventory, products, and collections across linked stores. This streamlines the entire process of multi-store inventory management.

Thanks to its rich features, setup might be challenging for less tech-savvy users. However, outstanding customer support ensures smooth setup and integration. Once configured, the intuitive dashboard simplifies multi-store management.

  • Synchronize inventory levels across stores/locations
  • Synchronize products’ fields across stores/locations
  • Create products automatically in all connected stores/locations
  • Complete multi-location support for flexible synchronization
  • See if any SKUs/Barcodes are not set up properly

Synchronized inventory management across multiple stores

Streamlined POS system across locations

Quality control over SKUs and barcodes

Outstanding 24/7 customer support

Cost-friendly monthly pricing

Configuration can be confusing for less tech-savvy users

Best for inventory auto-sorting and collection management


Bestsellers reSort Cover Image

Bestsellers reSort

Auto-sort and organize products in collections

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Customer support

24/7 availability

Free trial

7 days

Automated workflows

Create a custom order of products in collections

Bestsellers reSort by EGNITION is a powerful asset for Shopify retailers looking to manage inventory effectively while keeping up with dynamic consumer interests. It's more than just an organizational tool; this app provides a powerful way to enhance visibility and tailor product displays to market trends and personal strategies.

With its intuitive setup for online merchandising, Bestsellers reSort simplifies the process of auto-organizing products, making it easier to showcase new arrivals and featured items. It's a practical, balanced solution for efficiently managing inventory and boosting sales.

  • Automatically sort and organize products in collections
  • Customize sorting rules for every collection based on product type
  • Add featured products to top of collections. Add manually or schedule
  • Organize products using tags and create a very specific order of products
  • Mix and match sorting rules to create a unique order to drive sales

Enhances product visibility based on customer preferences

Easily organizes products in collections

Flexible promotion of featured and new items

Manages out-of-stock items effectively

Sorts by various metrics like revenue, sales, etc.

Reduces manual effort in product organization

Advanced features restricted in the free version

Managing Customer Expectations During Stock Shortages

Keep customers informed through regular personalized out-of-stock updates via email, text messages, or proactive customer service outreach for prolonged periods. These should communicate restock timelines transparently and implement a notification system for when products become available again, as well as address anticipated queries or complaints to showcase your attentiveness to their needs before they arise.

To avoid losing out on sales, suggest similar products or alternatives, recommending comparable items that align with customers' original preferences. This approach mitigates disappointment, retains customer interest, and may help reduce losses from out-of-stock products.

Additionally, offer discounts for future purchases as a goodwill gesture, fostering positive sentiment and loyalty toward your brand. Provide flexible options, such as waitlists, store credit, or substitute products, empowering customers to make decisions that suit their needs best and increasing their lifetime value.