The ins and outs of backordering: definitions explained

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
May 19, 2022
2 min read
The ins and outs of backordering: definitions explained

It’s a situation any merchant can imagine but few want to live through. Your business is booming. You’re even having a hard time even keeping your most popular listings on the digital shelves. You place a preemptive order to your manufacturer, hoping to get ahead of demand, when the worst happens. Your merchandise is on backorder meaning you won’t be getting it for quite some time. But what does backorder mean, and why will it take so long for you to get the goods your customers are demanding? Read on to discover the definition and cause of this annoying but often-unavoidable aspect of ecommerce selling.

What does backordered mean?

When products are put in backorder, that means that your order has been processed, but due to a supply shortage you may be waiting a few days, weeks, or in the extreme cases even months before your order can be fully fulfilled and delivered. Sometimes this is due to demand heavily outstripping supply, some break in the supply chain, or necessary materials required to craft the product being temporarily unavailable. No matter the reason, your desired item is out of stock. Back orders often affect multiple stores and outlets, meaning that if a product is unavailable in one location or chain, it’s likely unavailable everywhere else.

How long does backordering take?

Unfortunately even when it comes to standard process backorders, there’s no hard and fast rule. It varies by shop, manufacturer, and conditions. Especially in these uncertain times where supply chain interruptions are simply a fact of life, it’s more and more common for difficulties to arise in ordering necessary supplies and items. It’s recommended that you read all notifications and emails from your supplier or merchant to make sure that you’re kept up to date on any changes in the expected delivery time of your product. It may be the case that you’ll get lucky and new items will be available sooner than expected. Second of all, if you feel like you don’t have enough information, you can always reach out to the supplier or seller in question. In many cases there’s a dedicated customer service agent who will have all the information on approximately when there will be further stock.

Is there any way to speed things up?

You can always shop around to see if another shop is offering the same item. There might be a difference in price, but when it comes to receiving it now or receiving it in four weeks, you might be willing to pay a bit of a premium. This won’t always work, however- as mentioned before, stockouts are often the case across stores and locations alike. But there’s no harm in checking to see. Aside from that, your only option may be to wait. The supply chain is in a fragile state these days, and delays have become an unfortunate fact of life for many. Take heart though- in almost every case, items are on backorder for only a few weeks at a time. Just long enough for more items to be manufactured and shipped to the warehouses awaiting purchase.

In conclusion, it’s always frustrating to hear that necessary products are out of stock, whether you’re a merchant scrambling to keep up with mounting demand or a customer who needs an item in short order for an important reason. As we as a society move past the devastating effects of the global pandemic on our supply chain, these events where we have to wait for weeks or months for items will slowly reduce in frequency until they return to pre-pandemic levels- or even get better. Governments around the world are considering initiatives to make fulfillment quicker and more efficient, so we may one day live in a world where we no longer have to deal with this annoying issue at all.


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Warehouse technology is booming, but the industry is stagnant

Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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