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Backorder refers to a situation where a product is temporarily out of stock, and customers place orders for it with the understanding that they will receive it once it becomes available. This typically occurs when demand exceeds the current supply or there are production delays. Companies usually inform customers about the estimated wait time and may offer the option to cancel or modify the order if it cannot be fulfilled within a reasonable timeframe.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Backorder” is: /ˈbækˌɔːrdər/

Key Takeaways

  1. A backorder occurs when a product is out of stock but still in high demand – When a customer orders an item that is not available, it can be placed on backorder, meaning the order will be fulfilled once the product is restocked.
  2. Good communication and management are key to handling backorders effectively – Informing customers about the backorder status and providing estimated restock and delivery dates can help maintain customer satisfaction and reduce cancellations.
  3. Offering alternatives can help retain customers – Retailers can suggest alternative products or offer special discounts on backordered items, ensuring customers do not immediately seek the same product elsewhere.


Backorder is an important business/finance term as it highlights the demand-supply gap for a particular product, indicating that customer demand exceeds the current inventory levels. This situation usually occurs when a company is unable to fulfill the customer’s order due to a temporary shortage of products, resulting in delayed shipping.

Paying attention to backorders is crucial for businesses as it helps them assess their supply chain efficiency, gauge customer demand, and adjust their inventory management strategies to minimize future stockouts. Effectively managing backorders helps a company maintain customer satisfaction, retain clientele, and ensure smooth and timely delivery of goods, ultimately leading to business growth and profitability.


Backorders serve a critical purpose in the realm of finance and business, particularly in supply chain management and inventory control. As customer demand for a product exceeds available inventory, companies may choose to use backorders as a strategic approach to ensure customer satisfaction and maintain a steady stream of revenue.

By allowing customers to place orders for items that are temporarily out of stock, backorders enable businesses to retain their clients and guarantee the eventual fulfillment of their orders, without losing potential sales to competitors. Additionally, businesses can prioritize their production and procurement schedules effectively to cater to the backordered items, optimizing their resources and minimizing delays in the supply chain.

In many instances, backorders provide valuable insights into market trends and consumer preferences, enabling businesses to adapt their strategies and manage production accordingly. By analyzing the data related to backordered products, companies can identify patterns, allowing them to predict fluctuations in demand and concentrate on providing the most sought-after products.

Consequently, this enables them to minimize stockouts and cater to growing customer expectations efficiently. By embracing the concept of backorders, businesses can enhance their customer relationships, improve overall inventory management, and establish a more agile and robust supply chain that can better navigate shifting market dynamics.


1. A popular smartphone release: When a highly anticipated smartphone model is released, the demand often exceeds the available supply at the launch. Customers who weren’t able to purchase the phone during the initial wave of sales place backorders to ensure that they receive the smartphone when the manufacturer produces and ships additional units.

2. Seasonal demand for outdoor equipment: During specific seasons, the demand for certain outdoor equipment, such as swimming pools or snow blowers, can increase dramatically, leading to temporary stockouts. Retailers or manufacturers may accept backorders to fulfill the customer needs when the inventory becomes available again.

3. Supply chain disruptions due to natural disasters: Events like earthquakes, hurricanes, or pandemics can disrupt supply chains, leading to an inability to fulfill immediate customer orders. In these cases, companies might place backorders while they wait for their suppliers to recover and start delivering products again. This situation was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when the global shortage of semiconductors resulted in backorders for various electronic products, from laptops to cars.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a backorder?

A backorder is a situation in which a business cannot immediately fulfill an order due to the unavailability of a product or a shortage of materials or resources. This occurs when demand exceeds the available inventory or production capacity, and the customer is asked to wait for the item to be restocked or produced.

How does a backorder affect customers?

A backorder may lead to customer dissatisfaction due to delays in receiving the ordered products. In some cases, customers may choose to cancel their orders and purchase the items from competitors with available stock.

Are backorders always negative for a business?

Not necessarily. While backorders can sometimes lead to lost sales and customer dissatisfaction, they can also indicate a healthy demand for a product. Proper management of backorders and communication with customers can help mitigate any negative impacts.

How can a business prevent or minimize backorders?

Businesses can use several tactics to prevent or minimize backorders, such as maintaining safety stock, improving demand forecasting, using inventory management systems, diversifying suppliers, and monitoring customer orders and trends closely to identify and address potential stock shortages.

How long does it typically take for a backordered item to become available?

That depends on the specific factors causing the backorder. Restocking times vary based on factors like supplier lead time, production capacity, and availability of raw materials. Generally, businesses try to fulfill backordered items as quickly as possible.

How are customers notified of a backorder status?

Businesses typically inform customers of an item’s backordered status at the time of order placement, through email updates, or via their account on the company’s website. Proactive communication can help maintain customer satisfaction and set realistic expectations for order fulfillment.

Can a customer still place an order for a backordered item?

Yes, customers can often still place an order for a backordered item. In these cases, the customer is aware of the delayed fulfillment time and is willing to wait for their order to be restocked and shipped.

Will all items in an order be held up due to a backordered item?

Policies vary between businesses. Some businesses may ship available products right away and then ship the backordered item separately once available. Others may hold the entire order until all items can be shipped together. This should be communicated clearly to customers at the time of purchase.

Related Finance Terms

  • Inventory management
  • Stock-out
  • Order fulfillment
  • Order backlog
  • Lead time

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