If you have popular products that are out of stock, you could be losing valuable customers if they decide to go elsewhere. This is where a WooCommerce waitlist plugin comes in handy. This useful tool allows customers to register their interest in a product and get an email notification when it comes back in stock.
But with a few different waitlist plugins on the market, which is the best one for your store?
In this article, we’ll introduce some of our favorite WooCommerce waitlist plugins and unlike other roundups on this topic - we’re going to go a little deeper. As well as revealing the best waitlist plugins, we’ll look at the problem that these plugins are trying to solve and the best way to fix it.
By approaching the problem creatively, you'll learn how to handle out-of-stock products in a way that means you won't lose a sale.
So let’s start with the problem and why a WooCommerce waitlist plugin is only part of the solution.
Why a WooCommerce waitlist plugin is only a partial solution
By installing a waitlist plugin on your WooCommerce store, you’re implementing a way to communicate with interested buyers in the future - great!
But if a product goes out of stock, there's a huge risk that customers will buy from your competitors. Especially if your product can be bought elsewhere.
A waitlist plugin solves half of the problem by allowing them to enter their email address so that they can be notified if it comes back in stock.
However, from the customer’s perspective, there isn’t much incentive for them to do this. They have no idea how long they’ll be waiting for the product to come back in stock. By the time it does, they may have moved on. After all, they want the product as soon as possible.
Because of this, a WooCommerce waitlist plugin should only really be used with an additional tool that tells the customer how long they’ll be waiting. This way they can decide if the wait is worth it and enter their email address to get a reminder.
So with this in mind, let us introduce you to a tool that will easily help you add this to your store.
Using WooCommerce Lead Time alongside the best WooCommerce waitlist plugin
To take full advantage of your customers’ interest in your products, you’ll need to combine both a WooCommerce waitlist plugin with a lead time plugin. With both in combination, you’ll give the customer incentive and a reason to wait for your back-in-stock notification.
Introducing WooCommerce Lead Time
WooCommerce Lead Time allows you (the store owner) to display clear lead time information to help customers decide whether to place an order or not.
With this plugin in combination with a WooCommerce waitlist plugin, you’ll be able to automatically tell customers when out-of-stock products are likely to be in stock again.
Here are some of its useful features:
- You can choose which stock statuses to display the lead time for. For example, you might only want to show a lead time message for out-of-stock products, rather than all products.
- You can either add static text which will appear on the page (e.g. “Lead time: 2 weeks”) or select a date when the product will be back in stock. The latter is generally best for out-of-stock products because presumably the product is on order from your supplier and you know the date when it will be available. So you can communicate this to the customer. With dynamic lead times, the plugin will automatically display the number of days/weeks until the plugin will come back in stock.
- Optionally, you can display lead time text on the shop/category pages as well as the single product page. This way, customers know whether a product is in stock before they even click on it, which can save them a lot of time.
So now we know the benefits of using WooCommerce Lead Time in combination with a WooCommerce waitlist plugin, let’s introduce you to some of our favorites.
The 4 best WooCommerce waitlist plugins
Below are four of our favorite WooCommerce waitlist plugins. While all share the basic setup of a waitlist plugin, their differences are worth noting. Take a look through each to find the best WooCommerce waitlist plugin for your store.
YITH WooCommerce Waiting List
YITH WooCommerce Waiting List is a plugin that allows you to automatically add an ‘add to waiting list’ button to products that go out of stock. Once clicked, the customer will then receive an email as soon as the product is back in stock. This is all automated.
Because you’re collecting customer emails through your online store, you can keep this list to use for future product notifications. Plus, customers can opt-in or opt-out of the waiting lists they’ve subscribed to on the My Account page.
WooCommerce Waitlist is much like the YITH waitlist plugin previously mentioned but has slightly fewer customization options for the emails themselves.
Where WooCommerce Waitlist does differ though is its ability to display opt-in elements when users sign up to a waitlist. This means you can allow customers to opt-in to further marketing material from you in the future without any issues.
Waitlist Woocommerce (Back in stock notifier)
Waitlist WooCommerce covers the basic functions of a typical waitlist plugin and then takes it up a notch. As well as allowing customers to sign up and then be notified when a product is available. It also allows you (the store owner) a lot of control over what this sign-up form looks like, the buttons look like, and how the email looks/reads.
Plus, with Waitlist WooCommerce, you have the option of showing customers a popup style sign-up form, or one that sits on the page. Both of which you can customize to suit your store.
Back In Stock Notifier - WooCommerce Waitlist Pro
Back In Stock Notifier is perhaps the simplest in design of all the WooCommerce waitlists in this guide. Like the other plugins listed, it covers all the basics of a good waitlist plugin, but it does have some features that make it stand out.
With Back In Stock Notifier, you can hide the form for selected products or categories and you have full control over the error messages, subscription messages, and more.
So now we’ve gone through our top WooCommerce waitlist plugins, let’s answer one very important question.
Before we close - do you need a waiting list plugin at all?
One thing to think about before investing in a WooCommerce waitlist plugin is that there may be another option.
Offering backorder products is often a better technique to use to avoid losing a sale. With backorder products, customers can place an order even if a product is not currently in stock. By doing this, customers will still be able to purchase and know they’ll receive their order in time.
Instead of allowing customers to sign up and potentially buy (or not buy) in the future, you’re ensuring they do so. This is a much better way to secure the sale than a waiting list plugin because they are committed to the order and won't order from a competitor instead.
WooCommerce on its own allows you to set products as ‘On backorder’. However, if a customer wants to purchase one of these products, they might be put off by the lack of transparency around how long they’ll be waiting.
To use this technique the right way, we recommend telling the customer how long they’ll wait with WooCommerce Lead Time. This way, customers will know exactly how long they’ll need to wait before they’ll receive their order.
The best way to manage a waitlist in WooCommerce
If you’re looking to avoid losing sales when products are out of stock, then combining a WooCommerce waitlist plugin with WooCommerce Lead Time is the way to go. With these two working in tandem, you’ll have an effective strategy that will see customers returning to your store and purchasing your back-in-stock products.
Alternatively, put a backorder plan in motion and make it truly effective by using WooCommerce Lead Time to keep customers in the loop.