An Introduction to “Back in Stock Notifications”

March 23, 2021

Your online store is thriving, your products are flying off the warehouse shelves, and your stock levels are running so low that you’re selling out, and customers are eagerly waiting for new stock. 

Great – or is it?

While the buzz of selling out of products might generate significant interest and hype in your brand, your inability to satisfy customer demand ultimately leads to lost sales. And, without a dedicated strategy for recovering these sales, it could lead to lost customers too. 

But it doesn’t have to. 

Back in Stock notifications allow you to balance the excitement and intrigue than an out of stock product generates with the practicality of enabling customers to buy that product from you rather than your competitors. Ultimately, they help recover out of stock cart abandonment – something that your existing customer recovery strategy might struggle with. 

How can you perfect these? By reading this ultimate guide to in-stock notifications. 

What Are Back In Stock Notifications?

These customer recovery reminders consist of email or SMS alerts that tell a customer when an out of stock item is restocked, ready for purchase. 

back in stock cartstack

The typical process flow of a notification looks a little something like this:

  1. A customer lands on a product page where the product is out of stock. 
  2. They sign up to receive a notification when the product is restocked, either by email, phone, or both. 
  3. You restock the product.
  4. You notify subscribers that the product is restocked and provide them with a quick route to purchase. 

What Are The Benefits of Using Back In Stock Notifications

The most obvious benefit of adding these notifications to your eCommerce website is allowing customers to show their interest in an out of stock product and join a virtual waiting list.

However, that’s just the beginning of a long line of benefits, including:

1. Recovering lost sales

When a customer lands on an out of stock listing, you immediately lose a potential sale because they can’t buy the product. 

This campaign gives you a chance to recover that lost sale by alerting customers when it’s back in stock and providing them with a quick way back into the purchase funnel.

2. Sustaining customer interest

One of the first actions a customer can take when discovering an out of stock product is heading back to Google to see if your competitors have stock – abandoning your website in the process. 

Back in Stock Notifications help sustain customer interest by creating an expectation that the product will be restocked and allowing them to take a positive action towards obtaining it. This removes the need to exit your website immediately and could lead to further product discovery and purchases. 

3. Generating social proof

These campaigns not only highlight that a product is so popular it’s sold out, but they also act as social proof suggesting that others want the product so much that you’ve had to create a waiting list. 

For many customers, a waiting list creates feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) and exclusivity that prompt them to sign up. Think of fancy restaurants with long reservation lists and exclusive night clubs that are invite-only – it’s the same concept, only you’re creating hype around a product rather than a 10-course dinner or celebrity-clad dancefloor. 

4. Creating excitement

Studies show the brain releases more dopamine in anticipation of a reward than when receiving a reward. This means that subscribing to a notification and waiting for the product to be restocked is arguably more exciting than going and buying that same product from your competitor. 

5. Enhancing the customer experience

Out of stock products aren’t great for the customer experience, but that doesn’t mean all is lost.

Providing customers with a convenient way to buy an out of stock product shows that you care about making the best of a bad situation, and that they can rely on you to restock the item and push them first to the queue when you do. 

6. Providing customer insights

Finally, these notifications are a neat way to measure customer demand. You can figure out which products are worthwhile restocking and which have had their day simply from the number of people who express their interest. 

Best Practices for Recovering Customers with Back In Stock Notifications

There’s a lot going for these notifications, but never forget that an out of stock item is still risky and will inevitably lose sales and customers. Therefore, you must do everything you can to enhance your alerts, so they retain and recover the most customers possible. 


1. Make sign-up clear and easy

First, it must be blindingly obvious that customers can subscribe to alerts because you need them to see this before exiting the page or your website. 

From our experience, the best ways to make subscriptions clear and easy are:

  • Adding the sign-up box directly under the out of stock notice. 
  • Ensuring the box takes up an appropriate amount of space to be noticed on the page. 
  • Using a clear and bright CTA button. 
  • Adding exit-intent pop-ups to your website to disrupt any exit. 

2. Use multiple communication channels

You no doubt use multi-channel sales, marketing, and cart abandonment strategies for your eCommerce business – your notifications should be no different. 

Provide customers with the option to receive stock notifications via email and/or SMS. This gives them control over how you contact them while increasing the chances of your notifications been seen, read, and acted upon. 

3. Notify customers as soon as possible

It’s important to notify customers as quickly as possible when you restock a product because the last thing you want is for customers to land on another out of stock product page. 

As soon as items are back on the shelves, use your notification tool to notify customers who signed up. You may even decide to give them an exclusive purchasing period before you advertise the restock on social media.  

4. Use a clear subject line

You want your notifications to stand out in the email and SMS inbox because your customers are waiting to receive it. Therefore, you need a clear and relevant subject line that reminds, alerts, and entices them. 

Think along the lines of:

  • Your roller skates are back in! Be quick…”
  • Back in stock: Men’s cycling gloves
  • Don’t miss out – Nike Air Force 1 back!

5. Tailor your email content

While back in stock notifications should be short and to the point, it’s still important to tailor your content so it achieves the “four Rs”: remind, reengage, return, and recover. 

back in stock email

Learn more about the four Rs in our introduction to recovery campaigns and how to recapture abandoned sales.

The three critical elements of a back in stock notification are:

  • Personalization: address the customer by name and include information on the product and pricing to reignite the purchasing motivators and emotions they felt when subscribing to the alert. 
  • Urgency: create a sense of urgency that encourages the customer to convert immediately by including language such as “be quick,” “selling fast,” and “don’t miss out.” 
  • CTA: tell the customer what to do next by including clear CTAs and links back to your website. 

6. Suggest relevant products

There’s a strong chance that a subscriber has already found and purchased the product elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re a lost lead. 

In fact, these notifications are perfect for:

  • Persuading customers to buy from you next time: by including information that makes you more attractive than your competitors. For example, free shipping, money-back guarantees, or a “thank you for waiting” coupon. 
  • Up- and cross-selling similar products: by including links to relevant products that can invoke a secondary purchase. For example, if someone signed up to an alert for a new bicycle, include accessories such as helmets, lights, and gloves that they can buy even if they purchased the bike elsewhere.

Key takeaway

We want you to walk (or click) away from this article, not just with the knowledge that back in stock notifications are a helpful way to sustain customer interest and recover sales; but with the skills and tactics to enhance your notifications so they retain and recover the most amount of customers possible. 

Running out of stock isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t have to be the end of a customer journey; it’s only the start. And, with CartStacks new Back in Stock notifications, it couldn’t be easier to implement them into your existing customer recovery campaigns.