All stores that sell physical products will run out of stock at some point. But that doesn’t mean you need to lose the sale! The solution is to use WooCommerce backorder products instead of simply marking them as out of stock.
Most WooCommerce store owners get it wrong when they run into stock issues. Common mistakes include:
Most store owners get this wrong by:
- Marking products as out of stock. The customer looks elsewhere and they end up losing the sale.
- Enabling backorders without providing the right information. Even if a store owner enables backorders, they often fail to provide information about when the product will be sent. Customers don’t want to take the risk and end up shopping elsewhere.
- Adding a ‘Notify when back in stock’ plugin. Store owners use a ‘Notify when back in stock’ plugin to communicate product availability to customers. Customers don’t want to wait so they still look elsewhere.
This complete guide to WooCommerce backorders will teach you everything you need to know about how to effectively manage products that are on backorder.
You’ll learn how to use the backorder features that come with WooCommerce out of the box, and how to enhance customer experience with some extra plugins. These enable you to communicate more clearly with customers and do everything you can to avoid losing the sale – even though the product isn’t available for order right now.
The end result: more sales and revenue for you!
How to put products on backorder in WooCommerce
If you’re using WooCommerce to power your online store, you can easily put products on backorder. Here’s how:
Open up the product you want to put on backorder in the Edit Product screen. Scroll down to the Product data section and click on the Inventory tab. Finally, set the Stock status to On backorder using the dropdown menu.
In addition to this, you can also select the Manage stock? option to enable stock management at the product level. This way you can choose to allow backorders either by selecting Allow or Allow, but notify customer.
However, this approach has several limitations.
If you select the Notify option then customers are told that the product is on backorder but they aren’t given any information about when it will be despatched. In addition to this, it’s not clear on the product listing pages – the main shop page and category pages – which products are on backorder.
This is terrible for the user experience. Customers might find a product they’re interested in purchasing while browsing through the shop page only to find out that it’s on backorder.
Display better information about WooCommerce backorder products
As an online store owner, you want to make it clear to customers which products are on backorder. Doing this will help you deliver a better user experience and maximize sales. You can:
- Display clear information on backorder product pages. This option lets you display a message on the single product page that clearly lets customers know what to expect.
- Display the stock status on the main shop page. This option lets you display which products are on backorder on the main shop page.
Display clear information on backorder product pages
You can use the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin to display information about WooCommerce backorder products on the single product page.
Get WooCommerce Lead Time if you haven’t done so already. Install it on your WordPress website and activate it.
Head over to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Lead time to configure the plugin’s settings. The plugin lets you choose which types of products you want to display lead times for based on stock status. Tick the checkbox next to the On backorder option.
You can also add an individual lead time message for each product or variation indicating when it will be despatched. This tells customers what to expect so they can make an informed decision on whether to order.
Display the back order stock status on the main shop page
You can use the WooCommerce Product Table plugin to display the stock status directly on the main shop page. This handy plugin lists your products in a neat table layout on the shop and category pages in your store.
The table includes more information than WooCommerce itself normally displays on these pages, including a 'stock' column. That way, customers can see which products are on backorder and how long they'll be waiting without having to visit the individual product pages.
If you haven’t done so already, get the WooCommerce Product Table plugin and install it on your website. Activate the plugin’s license key to start using it.
Next, navigate to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Product tables to configure the plugin’s settings.
Under the Shop integration section, tick the checkboxes next to Shop page and Product categories to show product tables on the main shop page as well as on category pages.
Next, you need to decide which columns you’d like to show in the product table. You can pick which columns to display but we recommend including a stock column in the table. This will let you indicate WooCommerce backorder products. In other words, customers will see which products are on backorder in the Stock column.
It’s also worth mentioning that WooCommerce Product Table lets you display product variations in the table, too. If a customer selects a variation that is on backorder, the backorder status will be displayed too.
Plus, if you’re using the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin on your website, you can also include a lead-time column that displays the backorder message. It will look something like this:
This way, you can display a WooCommerce backorder notification directly on the shop page and on category pages. As you can see, this is a much better way to manage customer expectation than the basic management of backorders that comes with WooCommerce itself.
List backorder products separately from other products
You can use the WooCommerce Product Table plugin to list backorder products separately from other products in your store.
Since backorder products are available to purchase, they’re displayed the same way that in stock products are displayed. You can hide out of stock products from being displayed in the product table. This way, customers will only see in stock products and backorder products.
Check out our article on how to display backorder products and variations for more information.
Where to get the backorder plugins
WooCommerce lets you change the status of backorder products and let customers know that they’re on backorder. To improve customer experience even further and avoid losing the sale, you can use:
- WooCommerce Lead Time to let customers know the expected timeframe so they can make an informed decision
- WooCommerce Product Table to display the WooCommerce backorder products stock status on the shop and category pages.
Used alone or together, these plugins improve the handling and communication of backorder products in your store.