Christmas inventory management: How to deal with unsold stock


The holidays are a key period for your turnover and, like a lot of businesses, you have perhaps ordered a large quantity of stock in the run-up to Christmas. December represents a crucial proportion of sales for certain businesses such as perfumers, jewelers or toy stores.

Distributors, vendors, and producers have also prepared their inventory ahead of time, either by ordering from other suppliers, or by producing in greater quantities. With the supply chain broken, they have also found themselves overstocked and unable to move their merchandise.

How can you move your surplus or unsold inventory in these uncertain times? How can you avoid the risk of shortages when consumers are still looking to buy? In other words, what can you do now to save Christmas and better weather the storm?

Find more innovative ways to sell your products

seasonal products

Distinguish between year-round and seasonal products

Start by distinguishing between year-round products or items with far-off expiry dates that you can sell later and seasonal products that you have to sell right away.

Promotions and events

Set up promotions

Offer promotions on seasonal products and events for a predefined period. As well as moving your stock, attractive discounts might also draw in new customers.

Create kits

Put products together in sets

Create kits by combining related products to offer more variety to customers. You must of course give your package an attractive price that is lower than the price of the products sold separately. There must also be a logic behind the products you put together in a set.

Example: A perfume and a body cream from the same brand.

team up with other tradesmen

Team up with other tradesmen

The ‘good’ news is that you are not the only one dealing with unsold products, surplus inventory, and overstocking. Lots of independent stores share your worries about financial losses, so don’t be shy about helping each other out. You could create sets that group together some of your products with products from other stores.

Example: A gift basket with a Christmas beer and some chocolates.

Diversify your distribution methods

There is no doubt about it, this year you will need to work twice as hard to fill up Santa’s sack. Fortunately, the creative solutions we are seeing pop up everywhere will provide more spaces and opportunities for sales. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sell your products online:

In 2020, you can create a website quickly and easily thanks to online plateforms like Shopify. Shopping habits have evolved with the crisis and online purchases have seen rapid growth. Don't get left behind by the digital revolution! Other sales plateforms such as Etsy offer new spaces with great visibility for selling your products online. The Marketplace model is also proving highly successful.

  • Launch digital campaigns:

It’s time to activate your community! Why not share your promotions on social media or by email? And remember, personalization is having a moment: 55 % of consumers like receiving personalized messages that include products and offers in line with their preferences (Source : Liveclicker).

  • Try consignment:

To increase your visibility, you can ask other stores to display your products and only pay you as and when they are sold. Consignment sales will require close monitoring of your inventory.

  • Diversify your delivery and pick-up methods:

Opt for contactless collection, partial delivery, home delivery, click & collect, drive thru or pick up services.

  • Delay setting up next season’s in-store displays:

Negotiate pushing back deliveries of your upcoming collections with your suppliers to give you time to move the current season’s stock.

  • Join action groups that support small businesses and the local economy.
illustration stock

Finally, don’t forget to plan for the post-holiday period and in particular the January sales. Lots of people are saying that they can’t wait to get back to shopping. You need to be ready and stock up in advance to avoid selling out and make sure you keep everyone happy.

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