Disabling vs. Hiding a product in Magento
As a store owner, there are various reasons that you might need to disable a product or hide a product in Magento. Perhaps the product is out of stock or discontinued. Let me cover the two basic options, why you would use them, and how to do each:
Disabling a product in Magento
What it does: The product will no longer appear on the frontend in any way (not site search, not category listings). If a customer somehow has the direct page page URL (like via Pinterest link) they will receive a 404 Page not found error page.
When to use it: When the product has been completely discontinued, and you don’t plan to add it again. Sometimes manufacturers will require this to eliminate consumer confusion when a new version is being released, etc. Disabling a product in Magento is the most common method used for discontinuing a product.
My recommendation: This is not the best option if you have a lot of direct traffic hitting the product page, perhaps from Pinterest or blogs.
How to do it in the Magento Admin Panel: Go to Catalog -> Manage Products. Click on the product you wish to edit. In the “General” tab change the field “Status” to “Disabled”. See screenshot below. Please note that a Reindex and/or clearing your cache may be required to see the changes on the frontend.
Hiding a product in Magento
What it does: If the product’s stock is set to “Out of Stock”, then the product will not appear in the frontend site search or category listings. It will, however, have a working product page if the shopper has the direct product page URL. The status of the product will show ‘Out of Stock’ and there will not be an ‘Add to Cart’ button.
When to use it: When the product is temporarily out of stock, or when a discontinued item still receives direct traffic to the product page from Pinterest, bloggers, etc. It is also useful if you need to discontinue a large number of products at once, and are trying to avoid any SEO penalties. Hiding a product in Magento is a popular way to keep browsers from seeing the product and falling in love, only to find out that its out of stock.
My recommendation: If you have lots of active links to the product page (like bloggers and Pinterest) then this is the best option. Also note that you can use this if the product is permanently out of stock as well, as there’s nothing that says you ever have to restock the product. However, it might be a good idea to give your customers a message in the Product Description that explains. For example, “Sorry, we discontinued this style in January, but click this link to see the new Spring Collection”.
How to do it in the Magento Admin Panel: Go to System -> Configuration. Under “Catalog” tab on the left, click “Inventory.” In the first box called “Stock Options” change the “Display Out of Stock Products” setting to “No”. See screenshot below. Please note that a Reindex and/or clearing your cache may be required to see the changes on the frontend.
There’s practically no reason to ever delete a product in Magento. Ever. There’s less opportunity for mistakes that way, too.
These instructions are for both Magento Community and Magento Enterprise editions.
Hope this helps manage your Magento product catalog more easily. Feel free to email me or Comment with any questions!