Selling Excess Inventory During a Pandemic.

Generally speaking, selling inventory can be one of the most challenging aspects of running your business. It requires identifying the right products at the best prices, identifying the right market for these products, and then doing the hard work of presenting those items to buyers who can purchase them. But when Covid-19 began at the beginning of 2019 it made us reevaluate the way we sold our merchandise. Here are some of the most significant changes to how we sell our closeout and overstock merchandise.

1. Trade shows are out. The good news is we aren’t doing many trade shows; the bad news is we aren’t doing many trade shows. It has been a pleasant break not having to travel around the country, but it has had an affect on our inventory and how much product we are selling. We have not exhibited in Las Vegas at the International ASD Market Week in over a year. The last time we were there was August 2019 and it looks like the best case scenario for us will be if we were to attend the August 2021 show in Las Vegas. This means we are doing more direct to customer sales presentations by phone and email. We used to setup our wares at the show, and in a period of the first 2 days we wrote more orders than we can currently write in 10 times the amount of time. But for now this is how things have to be, and we can invest all the money we aren't spending at shows in other other parts of our business.

2. Zoom and Face Time are the new normal. Now we write most of our orders on video calls. When first faced with this option I was afraid it wouldn’t work and couldn’t be done. But it is amazing how quickly we all adapted and how intuitive working over an iPad or iPhone is. In our business, closeouts are changing all the time and we are constantly reducing inventory or increasing inventory based on supply and demand. Fortunately, these sessions have been a successful way for us to sell our closeouts, excess and discontinued inventory.

3. Closeouts may take longer to sell. Given the change to how we are doing business, it may take us and other businesses longer to sell through excess and overstock merchandise. Since there are fewer buyers in the market right now, there are not as many buying options as there used to be. Liquidating inventory to the discount market is a special niche and it often takes time to find the right closeout buyer who understands your product line. Not all closeout buyers are created equal, and it pays to survey the market before committing to a buyer. For example, Merchandise USA has strength in housewares closeouts and excess home decor inventory. Another buyer may see more value in building products and hardware closeouts.

4. Inventory levels may be too high. Don’t be surprised if inventory levels are higher than normal during Covid-19. Product is more difficult to sell through normal distribution channels, and your inventory may not turn as quickly as you would like. You may consider getting rid of extra inventory by having a closeout sale or liquidation sale in an effort to sell inventory. If you have inventory in Amazon FBA or if you are still using a 3PL warehouse you can also reduce inventory by liquidating from the 3PL inventory.

5. Promote slow selling merchandise. We have been successful by promoting slow selling inventory and reducing prices in order to generate high volume sales. If you have merchandise to get rid of and you have been unsuccessful selling it to your regular wholesale buyers, you can try to sell at a discount in order to get rid of merchandise and make space for new products in your warehouse. One of the big problems we are having is we are always having to make room for new merchandise and sometimes the only way to do this is liquidate old merchandise and get rid of dead stock.