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18 clever ways to clear out old stock

Written by | Published on 27th May 2016 | 22 min read

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FILED UNDER: eCommerce Uncategorised

Having stock piled up in a warehouse, garage or house is not only a hinderance on you spatially, but also financially.

Not being able to shift an item that’s been rotting away in the corner can be majorly frustrating.

A lot of retailers find themselves devoting so much time on shifting these goods, that they lose sight on the more important aspects of their business.

Being small isn’t an excuse

Planning how much stock you will be able to shift is always difficult.

You may think larger retailers may be at an advantage here due to staff resources. Enabling them sufficient time to work out costs, work out forecasting and calculating what discounts they can give.

This doesn’t have to be the case though.

Even if you are a small retailer having some reporting software can automate your profits across all
your channels, giving you an overview of your business, which allows you to focus on what’s important.

Not always your fault

There are always outside events that can harm your forecasting, so it’s always good not to take it to heart.

Purchases from your store can happen more than 6 months ahead of season. Therefore customer trends and the economy can change dramatically.

This can result in customers becoming very tentative and this is where the buildup of excess inventory comes about.

So what creative ways are there to encourage customers to purchase the inventory that’s been weighing you down!

1. Extend a returns policy

This is a great tactic that doesn’t get deployed by many retailers.

People love the extra security of knowing they can bring something back. I recently wrote about how not having visible returns is the main reason people don’t buy from you.

So if you have a 30 day returns policy, consider extending it to 60 days for a few items.

This is a great cost effective promotion, and besides, people always return items within the first week so if they did, it wouldn’t harm your stock.

2. Run a Competition

A giveaway is not only an ideal opportunity to rid yourself of your stock, but it can help you gather more contacts or build up your social media following

Use a graphic on your site or use a pop-up like Hello Bar.

Hello Bar is great as it’s free. We recently moved offices and had some books laying around. Rather than throwing them out we used them to increase our followers on our Facebook page.

With Hello Bar you can also collect email address which can link to your Mailchimp account. That way you can start remarketing to site visitors.

3. Double reward points

If you don’t currently have a reward or loyalty scheme in place you should look into it as a priority.

There are some great apps like Sweeth Tooth, FiveStars, and Belly that can increase your customer’s lifetime value by an average of 40%.

Loyalty programs are great for encouraging customer retention so offering ‘double rewards points’ is a good way of getting a purchase.

In turn your customer will be more willing to do so because they will be closing to that discount or freebie you’ll be offering in your scheme.

4. Give them to a charity event

Is local business important to you? Do you want to feel like you’re doing some good?

If the answer is yes to both of those questions then donating to a charity event would be an ideal solution.

At these events there are invariably bags given out at the end with items collated from local businesses. This would act as a great advertisement for you
business.

Use a site like Meetup to see what local events are taking place in your area and contact the event organiser.

5. Separate page for sale items

This might sound obvious but a lot of retailers don’t do it.

When someone clicks through from your promotional email, make sure you have created a separate landing page for the offers.

MyProtein do this very well. They offer a reminder of the discount code at the top of the page, under the image thumbnails and on the pages themselves.

Create a product category that runs across the top of your site called ‘Offers’. People have the tendency to scroll your site and the last thing you want is to make it difficult to get back to the offer page.

6. Send to Bloggers

This is a fantastic way of generating PR for your business.

A review from an influential blogger in your niche has a great long term benefit. We spoke recently to Shopify store owner Lexie Sport who put this to great use.

This resulting them in getting some great celebrity endorsements from Kimberley WyattCharlotte Moss and Neelam.

How do you find influencers? Try a tool like Buzzsumo to identify people within your market and reach out to them via Twitter.

7. Freebies

People like free stuff, fact.

Looking at my desk now it is littered with pens, mugs and stickers i’ve got from companies. All of these were offered as freebies with a purchase and that is literally all it can take at times.

Is there a small priced item related to the product you’re looking to get rid of?

8. Back in stock

If your item isn’t selling well, consider taking it out of stock and removing it from your website entirely.

When you offer a discount on a product, psychologically the buyer will think that these are products that people don’t want and may not want to purchase it.

However, if you take them out of stock and bring them back as ‘Back in stock’, people will feel they will be ahead of the curve if the picked one up.

Saying they are ‘back in stock’ makes customers believe that they are back by demand

9. Pop-up Store

I wrote recently how pop-up stores are a cost effective way of gathering exposure and gaining invaluable customer feedback.

There are some great sites such as Pop Up Republic, Republic SpacesAppear Here and High Jam who will sort out the space and insurance side, so you can focus on selling your products.

If you already have a physical store, you can use this tip as well which is, chuck them in a bin.

Not literally of course, but have a ‘bargain bin’ near the till with all your discounted items and watch as your customers fight over them!

10. Trade with another seller

Do you attend events with other sellers? Or speak to them in forums or groups?

If they offer something similar, ask them if they would be willing to swap. Most retailers have stock lying around.

You can then advertise this as ‘New Stock Now In’, psychologically again your customer will be looking to purchase these while they’re hot!

11. There’s a day for everything

Today it’s Sun Screen Day today (yes, really).

I mean, there is literally a day for everything! Let’s say you sold sun screen, you could run an offer in the lead up to the day offering your unwanted stock.

If there’s no day that’s relevant to you, no problem. Let’s say you sold vests, offer a bottle of sun screen to go with it. A little creativity goes a long way!

12. Place them near best sellers

Another simple one that often gets ignored by retailers.

Whether this is in a physical store or on your website, add your slow sellers as a related product underneath.

Alternatively, use a pop-up on Hello Bar that displays your offers on your most popular URLs.

13. Flash Sale

The days of offering a 10 or 20% discount are gone, it just doesn’t fly anymore.

If you want to create a sense of urgency and encourage a sale then that’s where a flash sale comes into effect.

Using a subject line such as ‘24 Hours Only’ can turn it into an event rather than a stagnated sale.

Create some build up to it as well, a countdown works best and is a great way of getting your customers involved.

14. Bundles

If you have a few items you can’t shift, think about grouping them together.

That way you can sell them for a slightly lower price than if they were bought separately. This means you can move multiple products at once, plus it won’t have a massive impact on your profits.

15. Sell on Marketplaces

If you willing to offer a discount and it still isn’t selling on your website, consider selling it on eBay or Amazon.

Customers on these sites are heavily influenced by price and you’ll be surprised how effective they are at selling depleted stock.

Myself and Sales Manager Guy at Veeqo love entrepreneur Gary Vee. He recently said on an interview with The Breakfast Club, how people will buy anything on eBay just to sell it for higher on Amazon.

Give it a go, list your product on eBay and see what happens.

[color-box]Note: Veeqo allows you to manage your stock across all of your website and marketplaces[/color-box]

16. Liquidation sites

Normally a last resort and if the other 14 steps haven’t worked for you so far, you could sell them to a liquidation site.

It’s worth noting that they will purchase your items at a much lower price than what you were willing to sell it for. It’s highly unlikely you’ll see any profits with this method but it will certainly free up some space for you.

17. Take new images?

When I worked for an e-commerce company the original images we had for our products just weren’t up to scratch.

Therefore I hired out a van and took them all down to a professional photographer in his studio. The difference was incredible and the upturn in sales reflected that.

Is your image high quality? Do you have several images of the product? Could you include a video demonstration of it?

If you are selling clothing, try using a lifestyle photo and put it on Instagram.

18. Re-write the product description

This product you’re struggling with, how many view is the page getting when you check your Analytics?

It might be the case that nobody is viewing your product, so that’s why the sales are slow. Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to find keywords that perhaps might be more relevant.

This is a slow process as Google will have to reindex your page but it could work wonders.

Any other good tactics you have to get rid of slow moving stock? Pop it in the comments box below.

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Richard is a Content Specialist at Veeqo. He loves writing about ways for ecommerce retailers to increase their sales with marketing tips, advice on website optimisation and social media best practices.

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