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When Products Go Discontinued
remove page, hide page or redirect page?
MadeWillis




msg:4132062
 3:57 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm curious what others are doing with their ecommerce sites. When you have a product that becomes discontinued or for whatever reason you stop selling it, what do you do with that page? I have come up with 3 options:

1. Removed the page, in which case the page becomes a 404 or not found on the server. This would likley require a custom 404 page for any hope in retaining that visitor.

2. Hide the page, where the page is removed from navigation, but can still be accessed if the URL is found posted somewhere and/or still found in the serps. Possibly just add a note to the page that states the product is no longer available and even remove the add to cart button so there is no way to buy it.

3. Redirect the page to either a brand page, category page or homepage.


In the past I have opted for option 2. The content stays in the serps, brings in traffic, but prevents people from adding the item to the cart.


I have a client that lists thousands of products and as you can imagine they go out of stock. I have always kept older product alive, just removed from navigation in the past. What is the best choice for ecommece sites with thousands of products?


Thoughts?

 

jecasc




msg:4132077
 4:11 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I usually continue to display the product for some time, including a recommendation to a similar product with a link directing the customer to this product. How long depends on how popular the product was. Usually 3-6 month, because I sell consumable products and thats about the time it takes until they are used up.

The reason is this:
If I do not display the product the customer might look elsewhere for the product.
If I display the product with the information that the product has been discontinued there is a chance the customer will not look elsewhere - because who wants to buy a product that has been discontinued and has been in a merchants stock for who nows how long.
If I include a recommendation for another product I might still make a sale.

PCInk




msg:4132087
 4:23 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would say it would depend on the item.

If you are selling jeans, I would opt for the redirect to an alternative product or category. If I was looking for clothes and a similar style was available, I would possibly like to see the alternative.

On the other hand, if you are selling something more specific such as laptop batteries, then I would keep the page listed but mark the item as discontinued and don't allow me to buy them item. There is no point showing me the battery from the Widget 6000 if I want the battery for the Widget 2500.

MisterT




msg:4133104
 7:17 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Keep the page alive for search engine benefit, but exclude it from your website's search results. In other words, let Google etc.. find it, but make it impossible to find on your website. That way, you'll still get new inbound visitors, but you won't show your shoppers a product they cannot buy.

rachel123




msg:4133178
 2:42 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Keep the page alive for search engine benefit, but exclude it from your website's search results. In other words, let Google etc.. find it, but make it impossible to find on your website.


So people do this deliberately? As a shopper, it's one of the most annoying, off-putting things to click on a SERP for a specific product and then not be able to find it. Believe it's against Google's Webmaster guidelines as well - what do you do with that inbound non-robot traffic that clicks on that SERP? Redirect it somewhere else?

MisterT




msg:4133441
 7:22 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

So people do this deliberately? As a shopper, it's one of the most annoying, off-putting things to click on a SERP for a specific product and then not be able to find it. Believe it's against Google's Webmaster guidelines as well - what do you do with that inbound non-robot traffic that clicks on that SERP? Redirect it somewhere else?


Yes. Lots of stores, including big sites like Amazon. Just because the product is not for sale does not mean the page has no value. There is info about the product, reviews, and links to similar related products.

tangor




msg:4133445
 7:53 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Me? Just kill it. Time to move on to other products. That's where the money resides.

martinibuster




msg:4133451
 8:06 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with MisterT. It's an opportunity to move that traffic to another product where the money resides. To not do so is to throw away the traffic, to waste an opportunity. Why throw away traffic that is in the buy cycle?

Killing the page is the same as if a potential customer walks into an actual store asking for a Widget 2000 and the potential customer is told no it's not stocked and shown the door. It's a stunningly foolish thing to do. The smart thing to do is say that we carry the Widget 2010, which does more and costs the same, etc.

Another thing that I like about MisterT's solution is that it doesn't waste link equity.

MisterT




msg:4133464
 8:44 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Killing the page does not make sense. Traffic is coming in, there is a chance to convert the traffic. Make the page valuable to the shopper and the traffic will convert. It's that simple. Works for us at least. :)

MadeWillis




msg:4134005
 1:16 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the responses! I believed keeping the pages alive was the best thing to do, just wanted a little feedback on what others were doing.

sniffer




msg:4134030
 2:14 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Killing the page makes sense if your customer service team keeps taking calls for an item which is no longer available

In this case I redirect to the product category, rather than a similar item. I can't say for certain that this is effective, but at least it shows a long-tail searcher that we've got a lot of products similar to the one thing they were looking for...

MadeWillis




msg:4134058
 2:49 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

at least it shows a long-tail searcher that we've got a lot of products similar to the one thing they were looking for


Maybe so, but once you setup the redirect that page disappears from the serps and you no longer show up for that long-tail search, thus you are not showing them anything.

I do agree about the phone calls though. Unless your customer service staff is good at upselling or recommending other products it could be costly. For the original site in question, almost all orders are placed online.

Obviously you would want to mention on that product page that the item is no longer available and that shoudl minimize the call volume.

MisterT




msg:4134201
 7:33 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Killing the page makes sense if your customer service team keeps taking calls for an item which is no longer available


Calls about any product are an opportunity to up-sell. If a customer calls or emails about an out of stock or discontinued product, suggest a similar product the same way you would on the website.

If the majority of your products are discontinued, that could lead to problems though...so I can see the need to kill pages sometimes.

ohno




msg:4134524
 6:59 am on May 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Our site shows stock availability-this chages to reda with DICONTINUED. The add to cart tab turns grey & does not function-it also has text detailing th eproduct is discontinued & to see alternatives below. Works for us, killing a page that used to generate good traffic is missing the opportunity to sell somthing else. Walk into any high street shop & see how a salesman works! I find redirects MORE annoying, the SERP's may detail one item so i click the link to be shown what appears to be the wrong item.

enigma1




msg:4134750
 3:52 pm on May 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you want to keep the page but discontinue the product another way would be to replace the page content with the new item's description. Having the new product being as similar as possible to the old may have less impact to the traffic. Of course this implies you got to have a way of setting up the replacement product without duplicating pages.

digitalv




msg:4134904
 8:17 pm on May 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Take it out of any category listings so you aren't showing unavailable products to visitors who are browsing, but keep actual product page up with an Out of Stock or discontinued notice, and make sure you have "related products" or "similar products" on the page.

This way if a search engine decides that page is the best match and drops a user on it it will still be there, but it's not in a category where someone can click through to it.

You already captured that visitor - if you don't have EXACTLY what they were looking for, at least try to show them something else that might also be a fit.

johnnie




msg:4135163
 7:40 am on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

At least point the customer to the closest alternatives!

FiveTone




msg:4135319
 2:21 pm on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

We use option #2 and get a fair amount of traffic and email inquiries about discontinued products

Renaud_Joly




msg:4135520
 7:51 pm on May 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Straight 404. Occasionally 301 (two months)
I understand those whom keep discontinued online but it's too deceptive for new visitors. I sell no more nintendo 64 and need optimisation for the Wii instead.
But it may be different : different products generate different searches who need different optimisations. That's life.

sniffer




msg:4137305
 11:43 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

yes, the problem with keeping the page up is that the searcher will read (and possibly research) the content. The ensuing comment "Well, if it's not available why do you still have it listed on your website?" is more important to me because I want our company to look responsive. Yeah, I get the up-selling part, that's taken care of with the redirect to the product category page

Bewenched




msg:4137878
 5:36 pm on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

We flag it as discontinued, but superceed it to a corresponding part. I dont have it in my sitemap for google.

MadeWillis




msg:4138609
 4:16 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

....more important to me because I want our company to look responsive. Yeah, I get the up-selling part, that's taken care of with the redirect to the product category page


I agree, somewhat, that you may look more responsive, but here is the thing. You may never even get that traffic once you setup the redirect. That page that once ranked and brought you traffic is now gone, redirected and no longer indexed. So, yes you look more responsive, but to who?

JohnRoy




msg:4140593
 6:56 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Me? Just kill it. Time to move on to other products. That's where the money resides.

That's if your page got hits only with paid ads.

If you relied on search engines, killing the page is like purchasing the ticket, rushing to airport, boarding flight, fasten seatbelt, and get ready for.. uh, flight suspended.

As others here said, notify visitor item is discontinued but offer something else or let them just signup to your email list :)

bistsuresh




msg:4144301
 10:47 am on May 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

So if the majority here agrees on retaining the pages on discontinued products, should one be concerned about the site getting huge over a period of time?

Does it become difficult from a maintenance perspective? How many pages would product sites of most borders here contain (rough estimate)?

- Thanks

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