Selling out of stock products

An item is considered out of stock when the inventory is tracked, and the inventory level of the item is at zero or below. By default, your customer can't purchase an item until you adjust the inventory levels to add more stock.

You might want to let customers buy out of stock items for any of the following reasons:

  • you have products available for preorder
  • you have stock coming soon and you want to continue selling before it arrives
  • you want to sell first and then order supplies later
  • you aren't tracking the actual inventory quantity in Shopify

If you want to track inventory in Shopify but want to let customers buy out of stock items, then you can adjust inventory tracking to oversell by selecting Continue selling when out of stock from the Inventory section of a product or variant in your Shopify admin.

Considerations for selling out of stock products

Review the following considerations about overselling when you set up inventory tracking:

  • Continue selling when out of stock can only be activated if Track quantity is active.
  • Continue selling when out of stock doesn't apply to orders placed from Shopify POS. Staff can continue selling products when available inventory reaches zero and below. POS will warn staff before they sell an item that’s not available.
  • If you have more than one active location, then inventory is assigned to a location. Consider the impact of locations on overselling.

Overselling with multiple locations

The inventory quantity at each location and your location fulfillment settings might impact which items are considered out of stock, and which items might oversell.

If you have an item at a location that fulfills online orders with an inventory level of zero or below, and a location with available inventory that doesn't fulfill online orders, then that item is still displayed as out of stock to customers on your online store. You will need to add stock to your location that fulfills online orders to allow customers to purchase that product.

When orders are placed through any online sales channel, they're assigned to a location where they should be fulfilled from based on the priority list and available inventory. If any location can fulfill the entire order, then the inventory is taken from that location. If no location can fulfill the entire order, then the location with the highest priority oversells the item.

Learn more about order fulfillment priority with locations.

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