There’s a nefarious syndrome plaguing many small retailers, and it’s called inventory creep. It begins innocuously enough, maybe that little stand of beach toys doesn’t sell so well over a wet summer, so you resolve to tuck the extras away for the following sunny season. Perhaps winter scarves don’t seem to be in vogue this year, so you box them up, awaiting the cyclical fashion trends. All of a sudden you’re spending more time playing a game of Tetris with stock, rather than putting your energy into selling.
Short of running a sale, what else can you do to move excess inventory or prevent it all together?
Package One Of A Kind Items Into A Gift Basket
This works especially well when you group products that are complimentary to each other. When people shop they may not make a connection between individual products, whereas when they see them grouped together in a gift basket the light bulb goes off. For instance, “Aha! I should have realized I need a moisturizer to go along with that handmade bar soap.”
Get In The Habit Of Remerchandising Products Often
Back to the scarf example, maybe it’s not that scarves aren’t in vogue; perhaps customers are having trouble picturing how the accessory fits with an outfit. It could be a presentation, not a style issue. If that’s the case, pair the scarf with a jacket and hat ensemble that your customers could see themselves wearing.
Swap Merchandise With Another Retailer
Shoppers are fickle, and unpredictable. A product may fly off the shelves at one business, while it could be a complete flop for another merchant in a neighboring town. Talk with other retailers, perhaps you both have slow selling items. Get creative, and suggest a barter if you think the exchange would be beneficial for each business.
Resort To The Internet
At this point you’ve tried every trick imaginable to move the excess inventory. As a last ditch effort use the power of the Internet, sites like Craigslist or Ebay are able to reach many people hungry for deals. While these websites are powerful tools, be prepared for a lot of tire kickers from Craigslist, and it would help to have decent photography skills for listing items on Ebay. Like other efforts, you’ll have to weigh the time costs against benefits gained before using these websites.
Dead inventory is costing you money. Quickly moving this product from the shop is crucial to making room for fresh items. If you have additional ideas to deal with inventory creep we’d love to hear them.