According to retail expert Gary Kulp, up to 30 percent of a retailer's inventory can end up unsold. These unsold inventories at both the retail and wholesale levels add up to billions of dollars. While some inventories end up spoiling or being destroyed, the rest end up in the hands of a liquidation company or other resale channel. Whether your business is looking to buy unsold inventory in bulk for resale or you're looking to liquidate inventory, you have both on- and off-line choices for individual or bulk transactions.

Liquidation Companies

Companies like Hudson Salvage, Gordon Brothers and Genco work with businesses to help them manage unsold inventory. Depending on the type of inventory and the business' needs, they can buy the inventory outright and handle the sales or disposal themselves or they can work with the company to effect a resale of the assets. The inventory that they manage can end up at liquidation stores, in online auctions or even being shipped overseas. Liquidation companies also can offer logistics services to transport and store unsold inventory, taking it out of the original company's warehouses or outlets.

Online Bulk Sales

Business-oriented auction and fixed-price websites handle the resale of unsold inventory. Most of these transactions are for a significant quantity of items -- frequently measured in pallets or in multi-pallet truckloads. Some of these sites are tied to existing liquidation companies, while others are independent companies that provide a marketplace for businesses to directly access buyers.

Online Marketplace

If you don't have enough items to qualify for bulk status, a site like eBay offers an effective option to move unsold merchandise without much additional cost. Think of it as America's online factory outlet center, so make sure you use key words to drive people to your products.

Individual Item Sales

Some businesses turn to online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon to sell individual items to consumers as overstock. By selling merchandise on a one-off basis directly to consumers, they can typically retain more of the original item's selling price. However, doing business this way also requires more time and effort than disposing of bulk lots of unsold inventory.


Yes, this industry still exists and is very active. In fact, 8.6 million business-to-business bartering transactions took place in 2013, according to The International Reciprocal Trade Association. Reach out to a hotel and trade your unsold towels for a weekend stay. Call the spa down the road and see if it will take your unopened shampoos and soaps for treatments. You won't be getting cash, but you will be receiving something of value for items that would otherwise end up in the landfill.


Instead of selling unsold inventory, companies also choose to donate it. From an financial perspective, a donation can be a good choice, since the value of the write-off helps to recover some of the original cost. It also has the benefit of creating goodwill in the community.