Out of stock products in Magento store

I’ll try to use logic and strategy approach to sort out the best solution for Out of stock products in Magento. It should be noted that if you are going to delete landing pages of products that are out of stock currently, it is not a good idea at all. In terms of SEO it is actually the worst thing you could do. But if you are not going to sell this particular product ever it might be acceptable, but 404 or 410 redirect must be set for these pages properly. However even if you have decided to remove some products from the assortment it is better to substitute them with the new ones. And this substitution could be done on the same pages that are already exist. By doing this you will save page rank of the old pages, what is a good start for the new products. Another popular option is 301 redirect to the brand or category the item was placed in. 301 redirect has been criticised a lot, however a lot of people still think that it is pretty wise decision, just don't do it randomly. Remember that magento has “similar products” block and “related products” block. In my opinion, if you expect missing product back to the stock soon it is better to use Magento subscription extensions or out of stock Magento notification extensions. This kind of extensions allows customers to subscribe on the email which will notify when back to stock in Magento so that customers will know about availability of the product they have picked before. Just visit Magento connect and search for these extensions (out of stock Magento notification extension), there are a lot: paid and free. If you know when you will get this product back to the stock share this information with the customers: set the date or even countdown of return. If you you are sure that you will get needed products shortly or they are on the way already, just provide opportunity to order with delay, so the customer will be able to add this product to the cart right away. So, my conclusion can be formulated as a few simple points:

  1. 404 redirect good only if you are sure that this page can’t be used in any other way and it doesn’t worth any efforts for customization
  2. 301 redirect should lead customer to the similar products which should be selected based on product name, color, brand, category etc. (the more similarities the better)
  3. Don’t be shy to use magento subscription extensions to notify clients a good news:)
  4. Let them buy with delay if this possible