Backorders vs. Out of Stock- Things to Know About Keeping Items Available

Backorders vs. Out of Stock- Things to Know About Keeping Items Available

Backorders are the items that are presently out of stock but will be available soon. Although you can buy back-ordered items, you won't receive the orders until they are back in stock. Manufacturers plan and order these products but do not produce them. Therefore, your order will stay on the list until they are available. If any SKU is 'on backorder,' you are waiting for the unavailable stocks.


What is a backorder, and what are its benefits for retailers 

A backorder is a term used in retail to refer to a customer order that could not be fulfilled immediately because the item requested was out of stock. The customer will then be put on a waiting list and notified when the item can be shipped once it becomes available again. This ordering method allows retailers to keep their customers interested and engaged while efficiently managing inventory levels and maximizing profitability.

Benefits for retailers include:

Improved Cash Flow

When items are sold on backorder, this helps improve cash flow since payment has already been collected before shipping. This improved cash flow can help meet operational costs or reward loyal customers with discounts or promotions to increase repeat business.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Customers often understand they need to wait for products bought online; however, updating orders as they become available lets them know that their purchases are essential and appreciated by the company, resulting in higher customer satisfaction rates.

Inventory Management

Backorders allow companies to better monitor inventory levels without having too much extra stock lying around, preventing any overstock issues where outlets might have excess amounts of products causing delays in delivery times for new orders coming through at peak shopping periods like Christmas or Black Friday sales events; this could result in losses due to wastage if overstocking occurs unnecessarily during quieter sales times versus expected high demand periods where it's necessary.


How can Backorders be Used to Prevent Stockouts? 

Backorders are a great way to prevent stockouts in any business. When placed correctly, backorders can ensure that customers receive their product promptly, even when demand outweighs the supply of an item. A backorder allows the customer to reserve an item for later delivery when restocked.

Using backorders as a preventive measure works best if the supplier has transparent processes and guidelines for order fulfillment, such as accurate inventory tracking and order deadlines and delivery time frames when items are listed "out-of-stock" on your website or store shelves. By using these processes, you can anticipate and prepare for out-of-stock scenarios before they happen.

When dealing with popular products with limited availability due to high demand or production delays (commonly during holiday seasons or other peak sales periods), businesses also need appropriate procedures for managing orders beyond what's available iStock/Jevtic. This can include deciding how long products will remain on hold until they can be filled once additional inventory arrives, who gets those items first (e.g., loyal customers versus newcomers), and whether specific quantities are allocated based on the past purchasing habits of buyers.

Some retailers have implemented creative solutions like automated notifications via email or SMS text messages alerting customers that their desired product is now available again β€” this not only serves as an efficient reminder but also creates brand loyalty by giving shoppers another reason to keep checking your site/store near them for product updates. Ultimately having clear operational plans helps minimize disruptions while ensuring everyone ends up happy: Customers get their orders fulfilled quickly. At the same time, businesses maintain good relationships with them over time despite potential stockouts previously experienced.


Related: Finished Goods Inventory: What You Need To Know

Reasons why Some items May become Back-ordered or Out-of-stock

There are many reasons why specific items become back-ordered or out-of-stock. The most common reason is that demand exceeds supply, either due to rapid growth in sales or because of limited product availability. Additionally, shipping delays can cause complications with stock levels at individual locations. Here are some other scenarios in which items may become backordered:

Overselling of products

Companies often overestimate their inventory numbers when placing orders for new merchandise, leading to a situation where the expected number of products available does not match their actual demand.

Warehouse shortages and delivery-related issues

Shipment delays can result in a shortage at warehouses or retail stores once new supplies arrive from vendors and manufacturers. This is especially true if suppliers are unable to meet production deadlines due to technical difficulties or seasonal changes such as increased holiday traffic during peak periods like Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays that lead to order backlogs and unforeseeable delays with deliveries into specific areas around the world

Product recalls

Occasionally, companies must recall a product from circulation due to safety concerns or mismanagement within their manufacturing process. This means they have no choice but to take it out of stock until further notice, regardless of how popular it may be with customers.

Manufacturing supply chain problems

Issues such as the long lead times required for particular components sourcing and labor constraints within different parts of the manufacturing process can contribute to shortages on store shelves.

 Unforeseen natural disasters

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc., tend to leave little time for companies affected by them to replenish their stocks before potential losses arise, resulting in loss of revenue due to longer than expected wait times between restocks

Importation regulations & tariffs

 New importation laws enforced by foreign countries and increased tariffs on imported goods make it more difficult (and more expensive) for businesses to purchase these international products, thus creating internal disruptions in regular shipment flows, which may translate into brief hiatuses before new batches arrive.


Backorders Vs. Out of Stock: Understanding the Difference & Best Practices

Turnover Times

Out of Stock: The length of time an item is out of stock is indefinite and can change without notice.

Backorder: backordered items have an estimated time frame for when they will be back in stock and available for purchase.


Impact on Sales & Customers

Out of Stock: When an item is out of stock, it cannot be purchased until it becomes available again. This results in a loss of sales.

Backorder: backorders can still be placed and fulfilled, meaning there is no loss in sales. In fact, backorders often create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to purchase the product before it goes out of stock. Additionally, backorders keep customers informed about the status of their order and provide them with an estimated time frame of when they can expect to receive their purchase.



Out of Stock: There is no way to track when an item returns to stock.

Backorder: backorders can be tracked and monitored so that you are aware of their status at all times. This allows you to manage customer expectations better and keep them updated on their order status.


Related: What Is The Difference Between Out-of-stock And Backorders?


Whether Customers Will Accept Delayed Shipping

It is necessary to understand that backorders never work for every business. For example, if any product unavailable on your site is available somewhere else, customers will buy it from there. Moreover, if the items are immediate needs like household products, it is evident that they won't wait long.


However, when it comes to niche products, backorders work perfectly. For example, if your products are unique, then waiting to receive the product will make your website exclusive. Moreover, after global supply chain disruptions arose, customers became accustomed to such situations.


Related article: Expedited Shipping- Everything you Should Know


Pros and Cons of Accepting Backorders

In crowdfunding business model work around the concept of backorder. You have to pay for a 'reward' and understand that you will get it after several months. Let us check out some of the pros and cons of accepting backorders.



1. Promising demand for the production run: Backorders are an excellent way to assess the need for your products before committing to a production run. If you receive a high volume of backorders, it is an indication that there is a good demand for your product. This information can help you make better-informed decisions about future production runs.


2. Easy to start a conversation with customers:  backorders allow you to connect with your customers and build relationships. You can contact customers to update them on their order status and thank them for their patience. This personal touch can go a long way in building customer loyalty and retention.


3. With backorders, you can jump off point for expanding production: if backorders are consistently high, it can indicate that it is time to develop your display. This expansion can help you keep up with customer demand and prevent future backorders.


4. Gather market insight in advance:  backorders can also provide valuable insights into future customer trends. By analyzing backorder patterns, you can better understand which products are in high demand and adjust your production accordingly.


1. More risk of canceled orders:   backorders can also lead to a higher risk of canceled orders. Customers may change their minds about a purchase or find the product they were backordering from another source. This can result in lost sales and revenue.


2. Headaches with payment processing: backorders can also cause headaches with payment processing. If customers cancel their backorders, you may be left with unpaid invoices. This can lead to cash flow problems and strain your finances.


3. More customer service demands:  backorders can also lead to increased customer service demands. Customers may contact you with questions about their backordered items or to cancel their order altogether. This can be time-consuming and add to your overall workload.


4. Can frustrate customers: backorders can also frustrate customers expecting to receive their purchase promptly. If backorders are not appropriately managed, it can damage your reputation and dissuade customers from doing business with you in the future.


Related: What Are Shipping And Handling?


How to Avoid Backorders

There are a few things you can do to avoid backorders:

1. Use forecasting tools:  forecasting tools can help you predict customer demand and adjust your production accordingly. This can help you prevent backorders by ensuring that you have enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand.


2. Build relationships with suppliers:  building solid relationships with your suppliers can help you avoid backorders. Suppliers may be able to give you early warning of future production disruptions or offer expedited shipping for backordered items.


3. Improve communication with customers: improving communication with your customers can also help you avoid backorders. You can manage expectations and prevent frustration by keeping customers updated on order status and delivery timelines.


4. Offer alternative products:  if an item is backordered, consider offering a similar product as an alternative. This can help you satisfy customer demand and avoid backorders.


5. Offer discounts or promotions:  you may also want to offer discounts or promotions to encourage customers to wait for backordered items. This can help you maintain sales and revenue while preventing backorders.


Advantages of Selling Back-Ordered Items

With the crowdfunding model, you can understand the positive factors of receiving preorders for the products. Here are a few advantages of selling back-ordered items.


Customer Service: Backorders allows you to connect with your customers and provide them with updates on their orders. This personal touch can go a long way in building customer loyalty and retention.

Market Insight: backorders also provide valuable insights into future customer trends. By analyzing backorder patterns, you can better understand which products are in high demand and adjust your production accordingly.

Increased Sales: backorders can also lead to increased sales. Customers may change their minds about a purchase or find the product they were backordering from another source. This can result in additional sales and revenue.

Improved Cash Flow: backorders can also improve your cash flow. If customers cancel their backorders, you may be left with unpaid invoices. This can lead to improved cash flow and financial stability.


Related: 5 Pitfalls of In-House Order Fulfillment


Benefit of Prepayment

Most crowdfunding platforms take the payment upfront, whereas businesses use the capital to increase the production of any product. If you can process the entire payment for holding the backorder, it will help with cash flow in manufacturing and distribution.


Handling damaged supply chains, as well as production delays, is no doubt a headache. However, you still have hope and can make the most out of bad situations by providing back orders to the customers.


Steps to Take to Avoid Backorders and stockouts

Stay aware of current customer demand

 By understanding your customers' needs and keeping track of their orders, you'll be better prepared to forecast future demands and ensure you have adequate supplies on hand to meet those needs. You can do this by utilizing tools such as surveys, online customer reviews, focus groups, or simply asking customers directly what their preferences or conditions might be regarding your product(s).

Perform accurate data analysis

 Analyzing sales data related to past trends is a great way to get accurate predictions about future customer demands during peak seasons or when sales surge higher than usual. By knowing this ahead of time, you'll be better equipped with enough raw materials and finished goods so that stocks won't run out quickly as soon as orders start rolling in from potential buyers - which, in turn, could lead them away from making any purchases at all due lack of availability (caused by backorders).

Use software programs & cloud-based inventory management systems

Utilizing robust software programs (ERPs) like SAP Business One is an excellent method for managing inventory levels across multiple warehouses or stores within various countries/regions simultaneously - allowing one's business operations to become more efficient while helping minimize overall costs associated with stocking too much product while heading off a stock out issue due shortfalls caused by unforeseen late deliveries, etc.

Work with trusted suppliers who have consistent supply levels

Developing strategic partnerships with reliable vendors who keep lines open between your business and theirs will ensure smoother communications during times when demand goes up beyond anticipated levels, thus enabling proper planning ahead for any sudden surges in order requests thereby reducing chances significantly against running into potential stockouts randomly throughout time! In addition, since many vendors today prefer placing minimum orders, it also drastically reduces the risk associated with damaging budgetary figures if not appropriately managed alongside timely recognition regarding supplier loyalty rewards program that ensures incentive structures remain intact, promoting stronger vendor-buyer relationships in the future always!


Related: What's the Difference Between Warehousing and Storage


Have backup plans ready just in case

Even though all these precautions should help sidestep most cases involving back ordering issues unexpectedly; still having contingency plans ready just in case some unexpected disruptions arise at any time due to reasons outside control is the best policy recommended here always; following proven methods incorporating cross-functional team collaboration coupled with adequately aligning internal resources both financial & talent wise helps achieve success results much quicker than attempting to solve crises reactively after they already occurred.

Tips on how to keep customers informed about their order status

Keeping your customers up-to-date on the status of their orders is essential for building trust and maintaining customer loyalty. Here are some tips to help make sure you always keep them in the loop:

Automate Status Updates

When an order is placed, shipped, completed, or canceled, automated email or SMS notifications can help keep customers informed about their order progress. This enables customers to check their order status anytime from anywhere easily.

Share Accurate Tracking Information

Provide accurate tracking information so customers can track their orders themselves without contacting customer service first. Also, include links to any third-party tracking sites they may need to view more detailed updates and the estimated delivery date so they know when to expect it.

Proactively Communicate Delays

 No one likes delays, but things happen, and orders sometimes take longer than expected, so it's essential that you proactively communicate these delays as soon as possible with your customers if there's even a chance of something going wrong with an order. Letting them know ahead of time will reduce frustration and let them plan accordingly instead of expecting something too soon or waiting forever without knowing what's happening behind the scenes.

Give Customers Access To Their Order History

Providing easy access for each customer to view all past purchases, cancellations, refunds, etc., allows them to see everything related to the purchase at once, which promotes transparency and encourages them to feel comfortable shopping with you again in the future.




Backorders can be a headache for businesses but there are ways to avoid them. By using forecasting tools, building relationships with suppliers, and improving communication with customers, you can prevent backorders and keep your business running smoothly. Backorders can also provide valuable insights into customer trends and offer opportunities for increased sales. If you handle backorders effectively, they can be a positive force for your business.

Next article: Popular Amazon Inventory Management Tools You Can Use For eCommerce Business

Looking for eCommerce fulfillment partner?

Let's Chat

Looking for a FBAΒ Prep Partner?

Let's Chat
Recent Posts
We publish hundreds of articles monthly across a wide range of topics!
No items found.

Continue reading

No other blog posts found.