4 Ways to Deal with Post-Holiday Inventory Now
So you’ve had your fill of turkey leftovers for the past week, and you’ve rung in the New Year in style. Now you’ve got the post-holiday blues for a couple of reasons. Firstly, all the indulgence has thrown your regular diet out of whack. Secondly, you’re still nursing a giant hangover. Thirdly, you have excess stock sitting in your warehouse that isn’t sold.
You might have overstocked due to factors beyond your control. Perhaps the weather was warmer than usual, and consumers just didn’t take to your llama wool leg warmers. Or the rapid pace of technology made your product obsolete by the time you stocked them. Or it may be that your demand forecasts were all over the place.
Nonetheless, you need to quickly deal with your overstocked goods because, being the post-holiday season, they’re likely to be seasonal goods that need to be moved or sold fast. Then you can clear warehouse space for new stock and the next season. So, here are some practical ways to deal with post-holiday inventory in order of doability.
1. Sell Your Excess Stock
This is, by far, the easiest and most logical thing to do with surplus inventory. The only two things you need to decide is: (a) how much to discount your stock in order to move them, and (b) where you’re going to sell them. However, deep discounts may hurt your product’s image. And selling them online may require far more effort to list them.
But wait, a warehouse flash sale may be the most practical way forward. Savvy consumers often wait for post-Christmas sales. They typically start on Boxing Day, 26th December, and last until the New Year. Offer rock-bottom, fire-sale prices that consumers cannot simply ignore. Make it compelling for them to visit your warehouse and cart away bargains.
Flash Sales Are Convenient For You
There are a couple of things that work in your favor here.
Firstly, if you’re selling goods directly from your warehouse, you don’t need to find an online platform or retail location to sell them. Goods simply sit in your warehouse until they are sold. There’s no shipping, picking or packing to worry about. Your customers come directly to you and cart away their purchases, keeping your selling costs to a minimum.
Secondly, warehouse sales often have strict payment terms. It’s first-come, first served. And very often, cash-and-carry only. This means customers pay you on the spot with no delays and no credit card processing fees. You instantly convert your overstock into cash without credit terms. The old stock is also cleared from your warehouse for new stock.
Thirdly, consumers often associate warehouse sales with cheap prices. After all, they are buying directly from a wholesaler or distributor and cutting out the middleman. The no-frills environment and the direct-from-warehouse mentality means that consumers are more likely to think that they’re getting a bargain, and therefore spend.
Flash Sales Create Awareness and Urgency
Also, holding a flash sale may create awareness about your brands and products that you carry. So the slim margins or losses on overstocked goods may be offset by the addition of new customers. The growth in your customer base may help drive regular purchases in the future. This is possible if you’re carrying useful items such as towels and bedsheets.
Furthermore, the short-term nature of flash sales means that consumers should act now to buy. This will work for you if you don’t hold other sales during the year. Thus you create a sense of urgency. It also helps to protect your brands and margins if consumers don’t hold out their purchases in anticipation of other sales later in the year.
Finally, in some countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, post-Christmas Boxing Day sales are expected and heavily marketed in the retail industry. Take advantage of this collective marketing effort by offering discounts and bundles to your retail customers, or offer them at your warehouse sales.
Disadvantages of Flash Sales
However, as with anything in life, there’s always a catch. Post-holiday flash sales may not work for all wholesalers and distributors for a couple of reasons.
Depending on your warehouse location, consumers may not want to make the journey to enjoy your discounts. Warehouses, by nature, are often located in industrial areas in the outskirts of cities. Far-flung locations may find it hard to attract customers, even with heavy discounts. Centrally-located or smaller warehouses in the city may fare better.
Furthermore, consumers may not simply be there when you expect them. Most people take advantage of the holiday season to travel or visit family and relatives. They will be out of town and in another city or country. Snagging a post-holiday warehouse bargain will be far from their minds. Spending meaningful time with loved ones will take priority.
Flash Sales Don’t Work For Some Goods
Also, your product may not lend itself to warehouse sales. If you’re dealing with luxury or high-end goods, consider the impact on the brands that you carry. The brand owner may prohibit such flash sales for fear of diluting the brand’s image. Or perhaps your products are not easy to offer in a cash-and-carry model, for example, washing machines.
Moreover, flash sales work best for products that you must absolutely liquidate before the next season comes. Perishables such as fruit cake and mince pies should be sold well before they expire. Ditto for holiday-themed decor and clothing. Missing the post-holiday sale period means instant obsolescence or a long wait before you can sell them again.
Finally, the cash-only sale terms make it tempting for fraudsters and thieves. You generally deal with cheques and bank transfers in the normal daily course of business. Now, you need extra checks, balances, and security when selling your stock for cash. This matters a lot if you’re carrying higher value products such as electronic goods or phones.
2. Bundle Your Excess Stock
This is an old trick out of the marketer’s handbook. If your product catalog allows it, bundle similar products together. Then offer them together for a lower price than if they were bought individually. Thus, you increase your average order value and you clear excess stock at the same time. Customers will usually want at least one product in the bundle.
Depending on your products, there are a couple of ways to bundle your products.
2.1. Bundle Many Products Together
Firstly, bundle many units of the same product. As expected, this works best for small to medium-sized items. Also, it helps if the products are the same size so that they can be physically tied or shrink-wrapped together. This makes it easier to stack and pick up! So, pack several units of the same product together and sell them at one enticing price.
For example, let’s say that you deal in Xmas cookies and sweets. Pick the overstocked ones of the same or similar type and physically bundle them together. You can get more creative beyond tying them together with a ribbon. How about putting them in a straw-lined basket or hamper? Retailers and customers will love it as it makes a decent post-holiday gift.
2.2. Bundle Like Products Together
Secondly, bundle complementary products. These are products that go well together and are typically used or consumed together. Check and see if your excess stock can complement any other items that you carry. You can instantly add value by combining them together compared with offering them individually on their own.
For example, you’re overstock with woolen mittens, hats, and scarves. Just bundle them together so that any one combination isn’t the same! The randomness means that each customer gets a unique package of colors. These three items go well together in cold weather. And customers can appreciate getting a good deal if they get a useful bundle.
2.3. Bundle Slow and Fast Moving Together
Thirdly, bundle slow-moving products with faster-moving ones. You will notice that some of your products will sell faster than others. Pair them with slower-moving ones so that you clear your slow-moving stock at the same time. By doing this you avoid discounting the slow items too heavily and thus preserve some of your margins.
For example, outdoor snow boots do well in winter but not everyone wants sheepskin bedroom slippers. And you’re absolutely overstocked with these leather mocassins that are supposed to be worn indoors. Pair them together with the outdoor boots so that your feet are kept warm and pampered after a hard day in the snow. This way you’re not forced to dump your mocassins at fire-sale prices.
3. Liquidate Your Excess Stock
Holding seasonal stock is like the game of hot potato. The last person holding it is counted out! Meanwhile, your excess post-holiday stock is looking more obsolete and irrelevant with each day. Don’t be the last person holding the stock. Sell them to liquidation companies or retailers that specialize in buying overstocked items.
However, be aware that you’ll be offered cents in the dollar for your stock, and that they will pick whatever they think they can sell. At this point in time it’s far better to cut your losses than to simply grin and bear it. Think about warehousing costs, expiry dates, obsolescence, theft and damage the longer you hold your post-holiday goods.
Plus, even though you might get cents in a dollar for your goods, it’s still cash going back to your business. It’s about turning your overstock into cash and not incurring any more costs, monetary or otherwise while holding on longer to excess stock. Move on from your losses and look ahead to re-stocking for the freed up warehouse space.
4. Donate Your Excess Stock
The last step is a contentious one. You’re donating your post-holiday stock for free? Well, not quite. Not only are you doing a decent thing to help the less fortunate and needy during a time of celebration, but you’re also earning a tax credit in the process. And savvy business owners will spin this into a public relations coup.
You’ll need to check with your national tax authority on how a donation works to get a tax deduction. Each tax jurisdiction will treat inventory donations differently. And the amount of tax credits will range from a straight cost deduction to a multiple of cost. At any rate, a donation of usable stock and unexpired inventory will be welcomed by charities.
For example, let’s say that you’re still overstocked with outdoor camping wear since it was a particularly warm winter. You figure that your options to sell or bundle heavy winter wear now are quite limited. So you decide to donate them directly to the homeless living outside and to a couple of homeless shelters in the city.
Depending on how the homeless shelters are structured as charitable organizations, you could receive a tax deduction for your donation of excess outdoor winter wear. At the same time, you might have the local television or news media cover the act of donation and the reaction of the recipients. The less fortunate get warm clothing for cold nights while your business gets media exposure.
At EMERGE App we like to dispense real, actionable tips that you can use now. And getting rid of excess post-holiday stock is no exception. We’ve run businesses before so we understand what it’s like to be overstocked. Any of these four tips are things that you can do now to move your surplus stock. So, which one are you going to use?