So you have decided to announce your product’s end of life, but you’re not sure how to break it to your customers. We recommend that communications include the following elements: the reason(s) why you are discontinuing the product; list of products being discontinued; date of last order; last-buy purchase conditions and expected service life; and replacement products.
Reasons. In explaining why a product is being discontinued, be upfront and explain that it is a business decision. Be sure to brief the sales and order entry teams so they understand the reasons behind the discontinuance and can be supportive of the decision and feel comfortable speaking to it.
List of products. Throughout your communication be very clear exactly which products are being discontinued. Use the formal names of the products, include each flavor or variety, as appropriate, and include specific SKUs or order numbers. In many cases, products have similar names and the notice can cause confusion if it is not perfectly clear.
Date of last order. It is critical that you specify the date and time of the last order and whether quantities will be limited. Indicate whether unused merchandise will be returnable and whether guarantees or warranties will be honored. Ask your customers to include a “last time buy” statement on their purchase order to ensure purchasing is aware of the last-time-buy conditions.
Last-buy purchase conditions. If you are discontinuing equipment or software, be sure to specify the duration of service and support you intend to provide and the expected availability of consumables or spare parts in the future. Be as specific as possible.
Replacement products. Finally, if there is a replacement product or products, be very clear about what product (SKU) is the replacement for the SKU being discontinued. Create a conversion chart for sales and order entry. Be very specific about the differences between the discontinued product and its replacement, and state exactly what needs to be done to convert to the new product.