This question often comes up – what should I do with my online inventory items that aren’t coming back? How should we handle discontinued items?

How to Properly Handle Discontinued Ecommerce Products

This question often comes up – what should I do with my online inventory items that aren’t coming back? How should we handle discontinued items?

Stay in business long enough and you’re going to have products that drift into the sunset and don’t come back. It’s just a fact of the retailer’s life. Whether the products are replaced with a new model or are simply no longer of use, products come and go. The concern with these discontinued products is the impact they have on your site SEO and your site’s user experience

Many etailers elect to simply delete the products, blow away the product pages and move on; but think for a moment about the impact this will have.  First off, anyone that had bookmarked the product page will now receive a 404 “Page Not Found” error. In addition to the error, you have effectively sabotaged your SEO ranking by eliminating an indexed product page without taking the proper actions to maintain the integrity of your website.

Appropriate Steps to Take With Discontinued Ecommerce Products

There are a number of things that should ideally be done when you encounter a product that has been discontinued. Here are just a few of the more significant recommendations:

Discontinued ecommerce products.Add a Redirect:

Adding a redirect will not only maintain the integrity of your indexed pages; but when done properly, you can redirect site visitors to a potential alternative to the product being researched. You can redirect to a newer model of the product, different size, or any other alternative that makes sense.

In some cases, a redirect to a product category may make even more sense. Say for example you sell light bulbs but no longer carry CFLs. You can insert a redirect that takes your site visitors to your latest assortment of LED bulbs instead.

Recycle Your URL:

Perhaps the product you have eliminated is replaced with another similar product. If this is the case and details such as manufacturer, model, or version don’t matter, then perhaps recycling the URL will make more sense. To be fair, this approach really works best with nondescript generic products.

Properly Remove the URL:

Notify search engines that the URL is gone – this will ensure you do not experience an adverse impact to your search engine rankings.

Leave it Alone:

Another option that is often ignored is to simply leave the product page alone. The information on the page may still be of value to people that previously purchased the product, so in this instance it may make more sense to show the item as discontinued; but leave it up for people to still reference. Related products should still be referenced.

You Decide the Path for Handling Discontinued Ecommerce Products

As said above, there are many ways you can properly handle discontinued products. It’s up to you which path makes the most sense for your business; but our preferences tend to follow the first and last options listed here.

Please let us know if you need any assistance optimizing your ecommerce platform – we can help!

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