One of the most frustrating parts about running an eCommerce business is figuring out what inventory’s going to be a hit and what’s going to flop impressively.
When you have slow-moving inventory on hand, it takes up valuable space and costs you money to store. If it’s inventory with an expiration date, you likely also risk having a lot of very unsellable merchandise if you can’t figure out how to generate a buzz.
Even with a full service logistics company on your side, there are many ways you can encourage those products to move along, including:
- Offering daily deals. It’s not an original idea, but there’s a reason that eCommerce giants like Amazon offer daily deals each and every day of the week: they move products. Sure, you’ll have to cut into your margins to market a product this way, but if you have a lot of something that no one seems to want, cutting the price and offering it at a discount can help you sell the remainders so you can free up space for products that are in greater demand.
- Up-selling less popular items more often. In the digital age, there’s so much merchandise that is often very similar that customers are confused by the abundance. What makes a customer choose Item A over very slightly different Item B? If you can nail that equation, don’t hesitate to act on it to even the playing field, but more often the decision-making is all about which product is more visible. Identify items that would naturally go with the items that aren’t moving well and use the power of suggestive selling to send more units out the warehouse door.
- Kitting with popular items. Up-selling is one way to encourage sales, but kitting is another. In a 3rd party logistics warehouse, kitting can be an efficient way to track items that are regularly sold together, but you can also put items into kits that aren’t always commonly sold together. Offering a combination pack of popular Item A and not-so-popular Item B (so long as the combination makes sense) is a great way of piggybacking on the familiarity of one item to raise awareness about the other.
- Preventing item returns. Reverse logistics is sometimes a part of the problem when inventory seems to hang around forever. Take careful stock of those items that seem to come back more than average — if they’re the same as your slow-moving stock, the problem could be with your description of the item or your customers’ expectations of what it should be. Check that photos are clear, descriptions are accurate and that orders are being filled correctly. By working backwards from your reverse logistics, you may find that your unpopular items are actually a lot more marketable than you ever believed.
Even if you can’t predict exactly what products will be a hit with customers, at least you can have a plan in place for moving your less popular inventory. Keeping inventory going out the door is the goal, whether it’s by decreasing returns or improving visibility of products that aren’t being ordered.