How to Liquidate Inventory

Holding onto excess inventory can weigh you down. Not only are you sitting on products that aren't generating revenue for your business, but it could also be costing you money on storage and utilities. While getting rid of surplus inventory is a necessary evil for every retail business, it can also represent an opportunity to boost your bottom line. All you need are a few unloading strategies, from discounts and giveaways to eBay auctions and pop-up shops.

Slash the Price

An obvious strategy is to slash the price of your surplus inventory. Every customer loves a discount, and holding a time-limited discount sale is a great way to attract bargain hunters who may not be tempted to purchase your product at its usual price. Discounting works in two ways. Selling the excess stock clears up storage space in your store so you can bring in new items. It also generates revenue, thus bringing about some profit where there was going to be none. Depending on the profit margin of the product, you could slash the price by anywhere from 25- to-75 percent to make your promotion look attractive.

Create a Freebie

Customers are attracted to "buy-one-get-one-free" and similar offers as they give them something extra for free. Group these items and display them prominently for better in-store promotion. In the same spirit as BOGOF, you can give away overstocked products as a gift to customers who spend a certain amount, say $50 or $100, in your store. Not only does this offload surplus inventory, but it also encourages customers to spend just a little bit more to receive their gift.

Change the Display

Of all the inventory liquidation strategies, changing the display of the product is often the most overlooked. Placing a prominent clearance rack supported by large banners that promote the product can bring in a lot of customers, especially when combined with a price discount or BOGOF. In a similar vein, try placing a "bargain bin" or "pick of the week" display right by the front door or the checkout counter where impulse shoppers can be targeted.

Take It Online

If you normally sell from a bricks-and-mortar store, you might consider taking your surplus inventory online. Sites such as eBay and Amazon provide an easy way to sell your excess inventory relatively quickly with only a small administrative cost. eBay and similar sites give you multiple options for generating customer interest, such as listing your item as an auction, so it goes to the lowest bidder or establishing a low, fixed price. Take care that your pricing is in line with competitors and that you're not going to sell your items at a greater loss than you can bear.

Pop It Up

If you're an online operator and the budget will stretch, consider opening a time-limited pop-up shop to increase brand awareness and shift excess product. Pop-up shops are the definition of "here today, gone tomorrow" and it's this sense of urgency that attracts customers and helps you to offload inventory quickly. Pop-ups also let the customer see and touch the product before purchasing, which overcomes a major pain point for some shoppers.

Excess Inventory Buyers

If all else fails, some companies will buy your non-performing stock in one quick shot so that excess stock clearance is no longer a headache. You may lose out on potential profit, but you'll be able to get cash immediately for products that you might otherwise have had to donate or destroy. Especially if you're a high-end brand, quietly selling to a liquidation company can protect your reputation from the damage that a deep discount sale could cause.

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About the Author

Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a business writer. Her articles have appeared on numerous business sites including Typefinder, Women in Business, Startwire and Indeed.com.