What to Do with Overstocked Clothing

Date: February 3, 2015

What to Do with Overstocked Clothing

Handling Excess Stock is not a Problem Anymore!

Let’s say you get a great deal from a supplier and place a large order on a trendy shirt. Three months later, your shirts just aren’t moving. Your overstock mistake is going to take some extra effort, but some specific strategies can help move you overstock merchandise.

Markdown the items. It sounds obvious, but some business owners have a hard time doing it, they felt sure it would be popular or had a tight margin for profit anyway. Unfortunately, unsold items do not bring in any money at all, and it’s better to make some money or recoup your loss. Let go of any ego or bruised sense of market awareness and just accept that you made a poor decision this time.

Place the overstock clothing in a prime location of the store (near the entrance, where there is highest visibility). Place a large and attractive signage to grab the attention. Display the item in an attractive ensemble on a mannequin and dress it up head to toe. Pair it with jewelry and accessories to increase the likelihood of the buyer purchasing them too, offsetting the loss you are taking with the markdown. Help buyers visualize how it can be transformed into a casual or a dressy outfit. If you have a popular skirt or pair of jeans, pair your shirt with that for increased probability it will get scooped up.

Sell your items online. Move the items out of the front of your store and keep them in the back or even offsite to reduce clutter. If your store’s website gets ample traffic, you can offer a special online-only sale of the overstock clothing. You can advertise for in-store pick-up only or include a shipping option if you are equipped for this. Offer incentives for purchasing multiples. If you don’t have your own store website, head over to ebay.com (or Etsy.com if your excess inventory includes specialty clothing items) and list your unwanted apparel there. Just because it’s not popular to your store’s demographic, it doesn’t mean it won’t be popular somewhere else. Note that a crucial component of successfully selling online is attractiveness, high quality photographs and clear descriptions, including sizing explanations.

Sometimes, you need to just accept defeat in getting cash revenue and focus instead on intangible gains. Donations can be used as tax-write-offs, so keep accurate and clear records of any donation. Host a promotion campaign or a lucky draw and give the excess inventory away as a prize. Collaborating with local programs in your area (women’s shelters, teen clubs, high-school fashion clubs) to provide the extra apparel to underprivileged community members will help you clear away surplus inventory while also provide advertising for your store. Sponsor events and donate your excess stock in a silent auction or as a raffle. Non-profit and sports organizations are always in need of donations and prizes, and this is a great way to get your store’s name out there to future customers.

Avoid having overstock items in the future by knowing your demographic well and planning ahead. Buy for your clients and not for your own tastes. Before your sourcing expeditions, draft a structured plan or simple spreadsheet showing how much to buy, what items to buy, and when to stock certain products. Adjust the quantities based on your track-record and do not stock too much in advance. Most small businesses ideally want to have enough inventory on hand for no more than two to three months forward. Watch for trends regarding styles, and be intentional and use that data to inform your purchases.

Overstock items can be a hassle, but if you make smart and creative business decisions, you will be able to move the items in the end and still come out on top.  

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