Mike Fallows

Implement a low stock notice in a Shopify theme

• 6 min

I recently needed to implement a small feature on a Shopify theme to display a low stock notice.

Requirements #

This was a quick task that simply needed to display a low stock notice when the selected variant was below a certain threshold, and reflect the change when another variant was selected. For example, given the following scenario:

  • low stock threshold is 5
  • product has two variants: Standard and Deluxe
  • Standard has 20 items in stock
  • Deluxe has 3 items in stock

The notice should only show when the Deluxe item is selected and it should include the number of units left in stock, i.e. “3 in stock”.

Demo #

Here’s a demo (try selecting Deluxe):


Considerations #

Because this theme had the option to display variants as a select dropdown, or as radio options that acted like buttons to select the variant, I decided to look for a way I could make this feature generic enough to work with both. I noticed both versions would dynamically update a hidden variant input to reflect the chosen variant’s ID. This made it easy to observe changes to that ID and to know when to update the notice and identify the currently selected variant.

The code #

As I wanted to enable this as a section (so that it could be used conditionally on different templates), I could use Liquid to store the variant stock quantities in a JavaScript variable1.

const inventory = [
  {%- for v in product.variants %}
    { id: '{{ v.id }}', quantity: {{ v.inventory_quantity | json }} },
  {%- endfor %}

Assuming that the HTML structure of the page is something that could be boiled down to a simplified structure like this:

<div class="product">
    <input type="hidden" class="product-variant-id" value="123">
    <select name="id" class="options">
      <option value="123">Standard</option>
      <option value="456">Deluxe</option>

Then the script would look like this:

  window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', () => {

    // Initial config
    const threshold = 5;
    const productSelector = '.product';
    const optionsSelector = '.options';
    const hiddenVariantIdInputSelector = '.product-variant-id';
    const initialVariantId = '{{ product.selected_or_first_available_variant.id }}';

    // Store stock quantities
    const inventory = [
      {%- for v in product.variants %}
        { id: '{{ v.id }}', quantity: {{ v.inventory_quantity | json }} },
      {%- endfor %}

    // Find the root product element
    const productEl = document.querySelector(productSelector);
    if (!productEl) return;

    // Find the options selector (we will append our low stock notice container to this)
    const optionsEl = productEl.querySelector(optionsSelector);
    if (!optionsEl) return;

    // Append the notice container
    optionsEl.insertAdjacentHTML('afterend', `<div class="stock-notice"></div>`);

    // Method to update the content of the notice container
    // if the stock is not above the threshold
    function updateMessage(variantId) {
      const stockNoticeEl = productEl.querySelector('.stock-notice');
      if (!stockNoticeEl) return;
      let message = '';
      const variant = inventory.find(i => i.id === variantId);
      if (variant && (variant.quantity > 0 && variant.quantity <= threshold)) {
        message = `${variant.quantity} in stock`;
      stockNoticeEl.textContent = message;

    // Update the message on first page load

    // Find the input that is updated with the selected id
    const hiddenVariantIdInputEl = productEl.querySelector(hiddenVariantIdInputSelector);
    if (!hiddenVariantIdInputEl) return;

    // Watch the input for changes and update the message in response
    hiddenVariantIdInputEl.addEventListener('change', (e) => updateMessage(e.target.value));


Other considerations #

I ended up adding the inventory threshold as a section setting so that it could be populated through a value stored on the product as a metafield. I also added some styling to the message, and made the message customisable, ie. the message could take the format “Hurry, only {count} left in stock!”, where {count} would be dynamically replaced by the remaining stock quantity.

This is the way #

What I particularly liked about this implementation was that it didn’t require editing a single existing theme file. It’s an approach that I try to prioritise as much as possible as it has multiple benefits for working within a codebase.

In the past I might have been tempted to update the theme’s JavaScript to insert this functionality where the code dynamically changes the selected variant. Or add it into the variant selector’s Liquid file. Certainly that might have been a more direct approach. However, the maintenance burden is likely to be much greater whenever you want to upgrade the theme (especially if you do a lot of point upgrades) when having to diff/re-apply these types of changes every time. Worse when it’s to a large file like the theme’s main JavaScript file.

By isolating this feature to its own file, it makes it easier to delete it completely if the theme implements its own version of the feature, or identify how that feature works or needs to be changed, fixed or improved. Even if a new version of the theme handles quantity changes differently, the only thing that is likely to change is one of the selectors, or how to observe the selected variant (maybe through a MutationObserver or detecting changes to parameters in the uri) which is a much smaller change to make.

I’ve found life much easier customising themes with this approach.

  1. Note that I store the id as a string for comparison later (thanks to @ThomasAndrewMacLean). I’ve also used the json filter to help make sure that a value suitable for a JavaScript object should always be output (probably overkill as it’s unlikely that Shopify will ever change this API, but I try to do this as a best practise). ↩︎

Tagged • shopify • javascript