Time and again you hear that being overstocked is bad and a situation to avoid, however sometimes this is just not possible. And when it is not possible, you need to be in a position to handle it properly and turn the situation into something the company can benefit from. There are a number of ways to do this in fact, let’s look at them more closely.
Firstly, we will turn the general conception of not to over order on its head. There are some benefits to being overstocked (not that you should aim for this necessarily). Always having enough stock on-hand means you won’t have to tell customers their order cannot be fulfilled or that they have to wait. Being able to fulfill customer orders with a 100% success rate does wonders for the reputation of the company, even if the bottom line is affected. Additionally, there can be monetary savings from ordering in bulk or taking advantage of sales even if the ordering is premature for your requirements. It is important however to balance the effect of these practices with what is known as ‘carrying costs’ or the costs associated with having excess stock which is not being sold. At the end of the day, the bottom line is being influenced and the shareholder demands and individual needs of the company need to be addressed.
If you do find the company in a situation where you’re overstocked with goods that need to be sold as quickly as possible, then there are things you can do to ensure this happens. In reality, these can create business opportunities where there perhaps were not any previously – think creatively!
Re-think and Re-do
If there are items in your store that are not selling, think about how you can re-do everything. That is, think about how they are marketed and where they are physically located – can people see them? Are they eye catching?. Basically, look for opportunities to refresh the same products so that they appear new and exciting. It is very tempting to simply panic and head straight for discounting, however why not try and see if you can give things a new lease of life first.
Discounting is the number one way companies deal with being overstocked and it certainly works. Your bottom line may be a concern with this method, however consider the extra clientele you might acquire through special sales or discounts, particularly if what you are selling provides better savings than your competitors. It is important however to consider when and how you discount. Sales need to be expertly timed to have maximum impact and of course the amount of discount to apply needs to be balanced with the savings to the customer, getting rid of stock as well as ensuring the company is not in jeopardy.
Package deals or bundling is a good method of getting product out the door. If heavy discounts will be difficult for the company to bear then bundling can be an excellent option as you are simply selling a bundle of products for slightly less than you could buy each of them separately. This still represents savings to the customer, it moves product at a faster rate and it allows the company to get back more revenue for the product.
When it comes to marketing and selling, a lot comes down to your customer and pure psychology. It has been found that simply placing excess stock or last season’s items on clearance can almost desensitize the customer so that it no longer has the same impact with the same number of sales. Therefore, things such a big events to promote items or even placing short timeframes on sales such as flash sales or ‘one-day-only’ sales can have a huge effect on the customer, more so than just having a clearance rack they can peruse at their leisure. If this whole area seems rather unclear, simply put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Have a look around big brand stores and observe what they do and how that makes you feel or if it makes you want to pull out your wallet. If you are always considering your customer as well as the company and the bottom line, then you are sure to find a solution that works.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.