How do you handle out of stock products?

We've spent all this time building a bunch of products only to watch them disappear when they go out of stock.  Do you have any advice on handling out of stock products?

If they have traffic, I keep the page, and try to cross sell.  If they don't, then I 404 them (people tend to overuse 301s, in this case, the page doesn't exist, and there is no direct replacement, so 404 is correct).  If the product does have a replacement, then I 301, and if possible, surface a notification banner or bar on the new page that explains why the SKU on the page might not be what they were looking for.

If it's coming back in the future, I keep the page, and provide an estimated return date (out of stock for the season, back next spring!).  If you can take preorders, or collect emails for a stock email, that'd be a great place for it, but we rarely hit this use case, so haven't done so ourselves.

Have questions?  Drop me a line via the Contact form--I love to talk shop.

Up and to the right!