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Risk of determining product demand with OOS products

We are setting up with two new suppliers for an ecom site, and will be starting with stocking the most popular items per various methods of research (competitor best-selling sort filters, etc). There will be a significant number of items from these mfrs that we won't stock initially due to capital and warehouse constraints.

I've considered setting them ALL up as out-of-stock products in order to gauge demand via our back-in-stock notifier and wishlist apps and gradually stocking additional products based on these metrics, or setting them to pre-order with a notice that they'll ship with a longer lead time to allow us to scramble to order the items in.

However I'm concerned about the optics and SEO impacts of having a large number of chronically OOS products. Does anyone have suggestions or best-practice recommendations (articles or anecdote) on other ways we might be able to gauge demand for growing our selection empirically?

submitted by /u/chad917
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