I see I didn't explain my question very well.

Let's say there are products on the market available for sale from suppliers. Those products exist and are in the world, but not on my shelf for sale at my company yet.

When I receive a supply of these products and put them on my shelf, is there a word that distinguishes them from before they were on my shelf? They are now "stocked items" or "in-stock products", as opposed to simply "products", yeah? Or now maybe they are "inventory" now?

===== Original question =======

I'm trying to describe the relationship between

  • conceptual products: ones that may or may not exist, and
  • products that are stocked on a shelf

I'm wondering if there's a term.

  • You could call them "real" or "actual". In software terms, the ones that don't exist yet are sometimes called "vaporware". Aug 15, 2020 at 17:14
  • conceptual products?? stocked products.
    – Lambie
    Aug 15, 2020 at 18:50
  • What do you mean by may or may not exist? Do time machines count? What do they have to do with the title of your question? Aug 16, 2020 at 0:59
  • I like "stocked products" "in-stock" or "inventory" so far. Aug 17, 2020 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


There are loads of terms and idioms you could use.

  • "On the market" refers to an item that is currently available for purchase, for example, "products already on the market..."

  • You could just say "existing products" to refer to products that already exist.

  • It is quite common to say that products are currently "on the shelves", which idiomatically means available in shops, particularly when something is widely available.

Products which are not yet on the market may be referred to as "in development", or "in beta" (usually technology, eg computer hardware or software, but sometimes used to refer to any product in early testing)

To draw a comparison you could possibly use any combination of the above, but my personal preference would be, for example, "products currently in development, and those already on the market".

  • 2
    And if a particular store has them for sale they are in stock. Aug 15, 2020 at 18:17
  • To further confuse matters, things that exist and are on shelves are available "off-the-shelf", meaning ready to go without modification. Aug 15, 2020 at 18:24
  • @JackO'Flaherty I did consider mentioning this but as you say, it would only confuse matters.
    – Astralbee
    Aug 16, 2020 at 19:41
  1. conceptual products: ones that may or may not exist, and

  2. products that are stocked on a shelf

The usual distinction in the UK is:

  1. Available for order

  2. In stock

If you mean by 1 that they really don't exist anywhere as a fully-formed usable product, then they are "in production" or "awaiting production".

  • In stock is used in North America too. The idea of may or may not exist is too vague for any kind of answer to be given. Does it mean it's possible they could exist somewhere? That they could be made on demand? Or does it include things like time machines, which nobody has and cannot be ordered? Aug 16, 2020 at 0:58
  • I like "stocked products" "in-stock" or "inventory" so far. Aug 17, 2020 at 16:38

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