According to a new study, nearly half of the most popular pins on Pinterest lead to expired pages on top retailers’ websites.

Over the Black Friday weekend, the social curation company Curalate reviewed several top retailers’ websites and found that 48 percent of their top 10 most popular products on Pinterest led to dead links. The pages didn’t even show the product that had originally been pinned.

The company noted that this is not just an issue with older pins. Many brands are at risk due to seasonal inventory turnarounds. Others, such as H&M and Forever 21, might change products weekly or monthly. This means that products pinned just a few weeks ago could have already expired.

Considering that Pinterest is the fourth largest referral traffic driver to e-commerce sites, this is a huge problem. When consumers find something they like on Pinterest and want to buy it, they are instead met with a dead-end, and you, a missed sale.

The company suggests that retailers handle 404s — the error code displayed when a page can’t be found — better. “If a product sells out … don’t take it down,” explained Apu Gupta, Curalate’s founder. “Leave it on the site, so at least the page is there and consumers can maybe order it … get on a waiting list.”

Another option is to list the product as out-of-stock while directing shoppers to alternative suggestions, perhaps similar items that are also garnering a lot of attention on Pinterest. More and more shoppers are turning to Pinterest for shopping inspiration. Knowing how to digitally manage old inventory is becoming increasingly important.

[Via: VentureBeat, Image credit: Steven Depolo]