Waitlists: How to Secure Sales from Sold Out Products

Picture this: You’re flaunting your boutique’s newest arrivals on your Facebook Live Sale, and right off the bat, one of your dresses becomes an instant bestseller!

And then it happens. You’ve run out of that dress, and customers are still clamoring for it.

While selling out can be seen as a great sign of success, this scenario is also an unnerving reminder of how much money gets left on the table. If only you had enough product to meet demand!

How can you capture these missed opportunities and keep customers eager for the next restock? It’s simple- use waitlists.

Discover how this unique eCommerce feature works and all the benefits it brings to online retailers.


Sell Out of Stock Products

Aside from unpredictable fluctuations in customer demand, you also have to consider indecisive shoppers that are tying up inventory with cart hoarding.

Whichever the case, it doesn’t have to result in lost sales. Waitlists keep customers up to date on item availability and increase their chances of procuring sold out goods.

So, what is it, and how does it work?

A waitlist is a dynamic queue of interested buyers for a sold out product. Once a shopper subscribes to a product’s waitlist, they’ll receive a notification as soon as the item becomes available again.

Availability can result from a restock, but it may also result from another shopper failing to pay for the item or if they’ve removed it from their cart.


Protect Your Brand Experience

Sold out products typically cause irritated patrons to give up on a product or to seek it from another source. However, waitlists substantially reduce frustrations by providing an alternative solution.

Subscribing to a product waitlist is a compromise that enthusiastic shoppers are happy to make for the opportunity to “win” back items. This small psychological trick can subdue their disappointment.

Instead, restock reminders leave customers feeling more hopeful and engaged, so they don’t run to the nearest competitor when an item is gone.

Plus, they can access, add, and manage their waitlisted items wherever they shop. It’s not exclusive to comment selling on Facebook and Instagram. It also extends to websites and mobile apps for a fully integrated, unified experience.


Accelerate Sales with Games of Chance

Besides the obvious benefit of improving the customer’s shopping experience, waitlists have the power to provide a much deeper, strategic value to online retailers.

The fact is, applying the scarcity principle to some degree will increase sales. Items that are sold out are perceived as more rare and valuable. As a result, they’re much more sought after.

Combine cart expirations with waitlists, and you’ll see a massive increase in sell-through from the heightened sense of scarcity. Cart expirations dump shopping cart contents if the if its not paid for within the set amount of time. These items go down the waitlist into the next willing customer’s hands.

If eager shoppers miss their shot, waitlist registration is a no-brainer. It’s a thrilling second chance to win it the next time around. It gets them fully primed to purchase from your shop when they finally receive their in-stock notifications.

Be that as it may, there’s no guarantee that a store will supply enough for everyone on the waitlist. To raise their odds of snagging an item, they’re incentivized to use waitlist authorization.

Waitlist authorization allows customers to pre-authorize their credit cards for an automatic purchase once an item becomes available to them. Those that “waitlist authorize” get the added benefit of jumping to the top of the list, further increasing their odds.

The use of waitlists, cart expirations, and waitlist authorization are two-fold. 1. It results in memorable and exciting shopping experiences that drive repeat business. 2. It wins increased engagement and guaranteed sales for retailers.


Measure Demand & Buy Smarter

Waitlists are a powerful instrument in optimizing margins. With them, you can forecast customer demand that is necessary for intelligent inventory purchasing decisions and financial planning.

Waitlists instantly reveal items that will win near guaranteed sales upon reordering. Using the Added vs. Waitlist ratio, they can also suggest whether you’re buying appropriately to meet customer demand.

Added is the percentage of products that are successfully paid for, while waitlist is the percentage of products your customers were unable to buy once they sold out.

You want customers to get waitlisted every now again, so it creates a sense of urgency. However, when waitlisted too often, they’ll get easily frustrated.

The optimal ratio for these items are 70% added versus 30% waitlisted. If you are not close to this, you may want to reconsider your purchasing plans.

A retailer that has a 90% added versus 10% waitlisted might want to buy wider instead of deeper. Buying wider means purchasing a smaller quantity of a wider variety of items.

On the other hand, a retailer with a 10% added versus 90% waitlist shows a strong need for buying deeper. Buying deeper means purchasing more in quantity to meet demand!

The Takeaway

Sold-out items don’t need to be detrimental to your bottom line. On the contrary, if done correctly, online retailers can leverage them to grow their business!

Use them to overcome the pitfalls of unavoidable stockouts. Capture lost sales, preserve the brand experience, provide fun ways to shop, and forecast demand for smarter buying and increased margins.


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