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Back Order Meaning: What Is It And How To Use It For Ecom?
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Martin -
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Martin is an agency owner and SaaS projects maker. His work is featured in the leading ecommerce brands, magazines and podcasts. Talks about Marketing, Business Development, and Growth Hacking!
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16 minutes

When you’re navigating the bustling world of ecommerce businesses, understanding the back order meaning is crucial.

Let’s break it down: a back order occurs when a customer places an order for an item that isn’t currently in stock but is expected to be available soon.

Unlike items that are permanently out of stock, backordered products are only temporarily unavailable and can still be purchased; they’ll be shipped once replenished.

Plus, effective inventory management plays a pivotal role here. It’s the backbone that supports online stores in maintaining the delicate balance between too much and too little stock.

Therefore, let’s explain how back order works & how to manage it!


What Is The Back Orders Meaning?

back orders

When you come across the term ‘backordered’, you might wonder, “What does backordered mean?”

In the world of online shopping, a backorder refers to a product that is currently out of stock but can still be purchased and will be shipped later when it becomes available.

Why Backorders Matter in Ecommerce?

Backorders are important for ecommerce businesses because they allow them to:

  1. Capture sales for products that are temporarily unavailable
  2. Avoid turning away potential customers
  3. Provide customers with the reassurance of securing a desired item without constantly checking for restocks

Now, let’s explore how being ‘backordered’ affects the overall shopping experience.

The Impact of Backorders on Customers

Imagine this scenario: you find the perfect item online, only to discover that it’s on backorder. This means you have to wait until it’s back in stock before your purchase can be shipped. Not an ideal situation, right?

However, if you’re informed upfront with a clear indication of when the product will be available again, the waiting becomes more manageable. This is where transparent communication plays a crucial role.

For example, I am personally a big fan of Zara, and I must say, I feel pretty important when I get email confirmation about an item that is back in stock. 👇

The Role of Transparent Communication

When a product is labeled as backordered, it’s essential for ecommerce businesses to:

  • State it clearly on the product page
  • Provide an estimated delivery date if possible
  • Update customers regularly about their order status

By following these practices, you can maintain trust with your customers and effectively manage their expectations while dealing with backorder situations.

Benefits and Challenges of Offering Backorders to Customers

Ecommerce stores exploring the benefits and challenges of offering backorders to customers discover a nuanced landscape.

Benefits of Offering Backorders

On one hand, the ability to offer backorders often leads to:

Increased sales: Products remain purchasable even when out of stock.

Customer loyalty: Shoppers appreciate being able to order items they desire, regardless of immediate availability.

Challenges of Offering Backorders

However, these benefits come alongside critical challenges that require attention:

Customer service: The need for extra support escalates as customers seek updates on their backordered items.

Expectation management: Clearly setting expectations around delivery timelines is crucial to maintain trust.

To navigate these waters successfully, a robust communication plan is essential. The plan should include:

  • Timely updates on restock dates and shipment tracking.
  • Clear policies around cancellations or modifications of backordered items.
  • Responsive customer service channels for any inquiries or concerns.

By fine-tuning the balance between the positive aspects and potential pitfalls of backorders, you set your ecommerce store up for success.

Keeping customers informed and satisfied through transparent communication turns the challenge of managing backorders into a strategic opportunity for building long-term relationships with your customer base.

Strategies for Managing Backorders Efficiently

When customers encounter backordered items, they expect a smooth resolution and timely delivery once stock is replenished.

Therefore, here are some strategies for managing backorders efficiently, designed to bolster both the inventory management experience and customer satisfaction:

Best Practices for Seamless Backorder Fulfillment

Next, I will list the best practices for back order fulfillment. This way, you can get back order meaning even better.

🔸 Integrate Real-Time Inventory Updates

Firstly, equip your ecommerce platform with real-time inventory tracking. This ensures that both you and your customers have up-to-date information on product availability.

For example, if you need assistance keeping track of your stock, I suggest you look into Inventory Source’s automation software.👇

🔸 Leverage Automation

Use automated systems to notify customers about backorder status changes and expected shipping dates. Hence, automation helps reduce manual errors and saves time.

For example, AutoDS is an online platform where you can track supplier orders, handle communications, and manage returns and cancellations for your dropshipping stores. It comes with a ready-made template for quick replies and a dashboard to help you keep an eye on how you’re doing.

🔸 Prioritize Orders

Develop a system that prioritizes backorders based on factors like order date or customer tier, ensuring fairness in fulfillment.

🔸 Set Clear Expectations

Lastly, keep product pages updated with estimated restock dates. Also, transparent communication prevents frustration and builds trust with your customers.

For instance, Tidio is a live chat tool that makes it simple for you to talk with visitors and address their inquiries. It allows visitors on platforms like Instagram and Facebook Messenger to get speedy and helpful responses.

Plus, Tidio, with its Artificial Intelligence tech, handles conversations for you.

Mitigating Global Manufacturing Disruptions

Global manufacturing disruptions can throw a wrench in the best-laid plans. So, when it comes to understanding back order meaning, this one is important as well.

However, there are ways to mitigate these challenges:

  • Diversify Suppliers: Don’t rely on a single supplier for your products. Having multiple sources can help cushion the blow when one experiences delays.
  • Build Safety Stock: Maintain an emergency reserve of popular items. This buffer stock can cover unexpected demand spikes or supply chain hiccups.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of global events that may impact your supply chain and adjust your strategies accordingly.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an environment where backorders are managed efficiently, enhancing the overall shopping experience for your customers without succumbing to the pressure of global manufacturing disruptions.

For example, there are many trustworthy directories for finding dropshipping suppliers. One that I find useful is the supplier directory.👇


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Payment Processing for Backordered Items

When you’re dealing with backorders, it’s important to know how to handle payment processing for those items. Thus, if you want to understand the back order meaning, you must learn about payment processing.

So, here are two methods you can use:

➡ Partial Charges

This method involves charging a portion of the total amount upfront, with the balance charged upon shipment. It reassures customers that their order is confirmed while not impacting their finances significantly until the product is on its way.

➡ Pre-Authorization

Alternatively, you can pre-authorize the full amount on the customer’s payment method without actually charging it. This ensures that the funds are available, giving both parties peace of mind that payment will be processed once the item ships.

Comparing different approaches to handling payments for backordered items, there are distinct differences to consider:

  • Crowdfunding Model: This approach aligns with pre-sales, where funds are raised before product manufacturing or shipment. It’s akin to an interest-free loan from customers who believe in your product enough to wait for it.
  • Online Payment Processors: These platforms offer more traditional transaction methods. They can handle partial charges or pre-authorizations seamlessly, integrating these options into your ecommerce store’s checkout process.
  • 👉 Learn How To Add Afterpay To Shopify: My 4-Step Guide + Examples.

Choosing between these models depends on your business strategy and customer base preferences.

Whether you opt for a crowdfunding technique or established online payment processors, ensuring a smooth financial transaction is part of making backorders work to your advantage.

💡 Tip: Read about Dropshipping PayPal: How To Use It & Not Get Banned.

How To Minimize Back Orders Through Effective Inventory Planning?

When it comes to back order meaning, keeping your ecommerce business healthy, nothing hits harder than the impact of backorders on inventory management.

It’s like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces — you know you can complete the picture, but not without some key elements.

That’s where optimizing stock levels comes into play — it’s all about having just the right amount of product at the right time.

👉 Read about Dropshipping Returns: How To Set Up Your Returns & Refunds? [Full Guide].

🔸 The Impact on Inventory Health

Backorders signal that demand is outpacing supply, which can distort your inventory metrics. Without accurate data, you risk making misguided restocking decisions.

🔸 SKU Management

Each Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) represents a unique item in your inventory. By closely monitoring SKU levels, you can anticipate backorders before they occur and adjust procurement accordingly.

🔸 Safety Stock

Consider safety stock as your emergency fund of products. It’s that extra buffer that helps you manage sudden spikes in demand or unexpected delays from suppliers.

Strategies to Minimize Back Orders

Furthermore, to fully explain the back order meaning, I will list the best strategies to minimize backorders.

  1. Proactive Planning: Dive into sales data and historical trends to forecast demand. Align this with current market conditions to stay one step ahead.
  2. Consistent Forecasting: Regularly revisit forecasts to account for new trends or changes in consumer behavior.
  3. Supplier Communication: Maintain open lines with suppliers for updates on production and shipping timelines, which helps in adjusting your own stock levels.

By implementing these targeted strategies, you position your ecommerce business to reduce the occurrence of backorders effectively. This proactive approach not only ensures happier customers but also translates into smoother operations and a more resilient bottom line.

Back Orders vs Out of Stock: Navigating the Differences

When customers encounter “backorder” or “out of stock” notices, they might feel a tinge of disappointment. It’s crucial to understand the nuances between these terms to manage expectations and inventory effectively.

Backorder vs Out of Stock

  • Backorder: This term indicates that an item is temporarily unavailable but can be ordered now for delivery at a later date. It implies that inventory replenishment is in progress, and the product will be shipped once it’s back in stock.
  • Out of Stock: In contrast, an “out of stock” status suggests that there’s no immediate plan for inventory replenishment. Customers cannot place orders for such items until they are restocked.

Managing both situations requires a strategic approach:

  1. Inventory Replenishment: Ensure seamless operations by analyzing sales trends and supplier lead times to prevent stockouts and minimize the need for backorders.
  2. Stockouts: Should stockouts occur, determine whether it’s beneficial to switch products to backorder status based on availability predictions.

By distinguishing between backordered items and those simply out of stock, ecommerce stores help customers make informed decisions. It also allows for better planning around inventory management and customer service. With a focus on transparency and efficiency, you can turn potential frustration into an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Case Studies: How Small Ecommerce Businesses Have Leveraged Backorders for Success

Small ecommerce businesses often find creative ways to turn potential setbacks into opportunities.

So, to explain the back order meaning I will provide you with real-life examples.

Backordering strategies, when executed effectively, can lead to growth and customer satisfaction. Here are some case studies that showcase this approach in action:

Case Study 1: The Boutique Clothing Store

A boutique clothing store specializing in handmade garments faced high demand for a signature dress. Instead of turning customers away, they initiated a pre-ordering system. The strategy allowed them to:

  • Continue taking orders beyond the current stock levels
  • Gauge demand accurately for future inventory planning
  • Strengthen customer relationships by promising and delivering exclusive items

The store partnered with a local order fulfillment warehouse which managed the increased volume without compromising delivery times.

Case Study 2: The Tech Gadget Shop

An online shop selling innovative tech gadgets experienced a supply chain delay for a hot new product. Here’s how they embrace the back order meaning:

  • Kept the momentum of product hype alive
  • Collected valuable customer data for marketing future launches
  • Ensured cash flow stability by securing sales ahead of restocking

Their collaboration with a reliable fulfillment partner ensured that as soon as the products arrived, they were promptly shipped to customers, maintaining trust and reducing anxiety over wait times.

These examples highlight that with thoughtful strategies and strong partnerships, small ecommerce businesses can successfully navigate backorders, turning potential challenges into wins for both their operations and customer experiences.

Implementing Backorder Mechanisms on Your Ecommerce Store

If you’re keen on setting up a backorder system for your online store or understanding the back order meaning, here’s how you can put this into action on popular platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.

By using the right ecommerce platform plugins, you can get this good stuff up and running in no time.


  1. Log in to your Shopify Admin Panel: Access the Products section.
  2. Edit the Product: Choose the product you wish to set as backorderable.
  3. Availability Settings: In the Inventory section, select ‘Continue selling when out of stock’.
  4. Save Changes: Confirm your settings to enable backorders for that specific product.

For Shopify stores, consider using apps like Back in Stock or Pre‑Order Manager which allow customers to receive notifications when products are available for purchase again and place pre-orders respectively.

👉 Learn How To Set Up Your First Store On Shopify [No.1 Beginners Guide]


  1. Access Your WordPress Dashboard: Navigate to WooCommerce > Products.
  2. Select a Product: Choose the one you want customers to be able to backorder.
  3. Inventory Management: Under the Product Data section, click on Inventory.
  4. Enable Backorders: From the dropdown menu, select ‘Allow, but notify customer’ or ‘Allow’ based on your preference.
  5. Update Your Product: Ensure all changes are saved accordingly.

For WooCommerce users, plugins like WooCommerce Backorders or YITH Pre-Order for WooCommerce are great tools that let you manage backorders with ease and provide additional features like automated notifications and customized messages for your customers.

By integrating these plugins into your ecommerce strategy, managing backordered items can become a pain-free process, enhancing customer satisfaction while keeping them informed about their orders’ status every step of the way.

👉 Check out Dropshipping WooCommerce: Everything You Need To Know About WooCommerce Dropshipping.

Monitoring and Optimizing Backorder Performance

Keeping a keen eye on tracking backorder metrics is essential to understanding the health of your ecommerce operation and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction.

Therefore, here are the key metrics you should monitor when it comes to back order meaning:

  1. Backorder Rate: This measures the percentage of orders that are placed on backorder. A lower rate generally indicates better inventory management.
  2. Fulfillment Time: Track the average time it takes to fulfill a backordered item. Customers appreciate quick turnaround times, even for backordered products.
  3. Customer Communication Frequency: How often you update customers about their backorder status correlates with customer satisfaction.
  4. Cancellation Rate: A high cancellation rate may signal that customers are not willing to wait for backordered items, pointing to potential issues with stock levels or supplier reliability.

Remember, success lies in the balance between managing expectations and delivering on promises.

By engaging in continuous improvement, you ensure that your backorder system becomes more resilient and responsive over time. Regularly analyze these metrics, identify areas for enhancement, and implement changes to refine your backordering process.

The iterative nature of backorder management means there’s always room to sharpen your practices.

So, keep in mind that optimizing your backorder performance isn’t just about reacting to issues as they arise; it’s about preemptively crafting strategies that align with changing market conditions and consumer expectations.

Let’s delve into how effective inventory planning can further minimize the occurrence of backorders, keeping your ecommerce store running smoothly and customers smiling.

Unlocking Ecommerce Growth with Backorders

Harnessing the power of backorders can lead to significant growth for ecommerce businesses. It’s a strategic tool that, when used effectively, can help convert potential lost sales into opportunities.

So, managing back orders effectively can offer several benefits to a business

✅ Customer Satisfaction

By effectively managing back orders, you can maintain customer satisfaction by ensuring that they receive the products they’ve ordered, even if they’re temporarily out of stock.

This prevents customers from seeking alternative suppliers and helps build loyalty.

✅ Maintaining Sales

Backorders enable you to capture sales even when inventory levels are low or when certain products are temporarily unavailable.

Thus. this helps prevent lost revenue and allows you to capitalize on demand.

✅ Inventory Optimization

Backorder management allows for better inventory optimization. It helps in identifying popular products that consistently go out of stock, enabling you to adjust inventory levels accordingly to meet demand without overstocking.

✅ Reduced Overstock

By accurately predicting demand and managing back orders efficiently, you can minimize the risk of overstocking unpopular items.

Hence, this helps in reducing storage costs and the need for markdowns to clear excess inventory.

✅ Improved Planning and Forecasting

Analyzing back orders can provide valuable insights into demand patterns and trends, helping in better planning and forecasting. This information can be used to make informed decisions about inventory levels, production schedules, and procurement strategies.

✅ Reduced Order Processing Costs

By consolidating back orders and optimizing fulfillment processes, you can reduce the costs associated with order processing, such as picking, packing, and shipping.

The Key Elements of Successful Backorder Management

Remember, success in managing backorders revolves around three important factors. So, here’s what to consider when evaluating back order meaning:

  1. Delivery date: Clearly communicate with customers about when they can expect their backordered items.
  2. Retail fulfillment: Partner with reliable fulfillment providers to ensure timely delivery of backordered items.
  3. Inventory velocity: Keep a close eye on your stock turnover rate. The faster your inventory moves, the better your business thrives.

By focusing on these aspects, you can streamline your backorder process and minimize any negative impact on customer experience.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Backorders don’t have to be a pain point for your ecommerce business. That’s why is important to understand the back order meaning.

Also, with strategic planning and consistent monitoring, you can turn them into a viable solution for out-of-stock scenarios and an effective mechanism for growth.

Don’t let those potential sales slip away; embrace backorders and watch your business soar.



In essence, understanding the meaning of back orders is paramount in the realm of ecommerce. As discussed in this article, back orders signify temporary unavailability of products but offer customers the opportunity to purchase items that will be shipped once restocked.

Effective inventory management and a robust supply chain are essential for navigating back order situations smoothly.

By embracing back orders, ecommerce businesses can capture sales, maintain customer loyalty, and optimize inventory levels.

Transparent communication and strategic planning are key to managing customer expectations and ensuring a positive shopping experience.

By implementing these practices, businesses can turn the challenge of back orders into opportunities for growth and customer satisfaction in the dynamic world of online commerce.

About the Author

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Martin Stoimenov
Martin is an agency owner and SaaS projects maker. His work is featured in the leading ecommerce brands, magazines and podcasts. Talks about Marketing, Business Development, and Growth Hacking!