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Few words can send a chill down the spine of warehouse staff than “unsold inventory”.

 Not only do they represent a lack of potential income, they can also create organizational hassles up and down the supply chain. The space given over to unsold inventory, if not properly managed, can start to create headaches for your entire warehouse staff as they try to organize around it.

Management of unsold inventory doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, however! By creating a strategy for identifying, shelving, and (eventually) liquidating or returning unsold goods, your warehouse can get out in front of the typical issues surrounding unsold items, no matter how many seasons have gone by.


What To Do With Unsold Inventory


Identify what hasn’t been selling…

The first step in managing your unsold items is to figure out what, exactly, isn’t selling like you expected. You could take a look at your YoY sales charts and look for any big drops in an item’s popularity, for example, or identify SKUs that haven’t sold a certain amount in a given period of time.

These distinctions will be important to make – just because you have a lot of an item on hand doesn’t mean you need less of it, nor does it mean it won’t be more popular down the road – this step is for identifying the items that just didn’t sell like you expected.


…and why it didn’t sell

The ‘why’ is just as important as the ‘what’ in many cases. Did it just fail to find an audience? Was it produced for a specific audience or period of time, and is no longer relevant/sellable? Was it too seasonal and wasn’t that popular because of weather conditions (shorter springtime than usual, overly hot/long summer, etc)? Even the saddest unsold goods are there for a reason, and figuring out why can inform the rest of your management process.


Temporary storage

Of course, once you’ve figured out where the unsold goods are coming from, they need to go somewhere, preferably apart from the normal inventory. Even if you still get a sale or two for these items, keeping them on their own separate wire shelves, metal shelves, or other designated warehouse storage shelving away from the ‘general’ inventory will let you better avoid mispicks, and save a little time picking items from the normal rotation.


Strategic discounts

If you’re in the position to control your own retail pricing (ecommerce, distribution center, and the like), you can start pruning these items down through the use of strategic discounts. Try marking them down at appropriate times of the year (using flash sales and the like), create bundles with other relevant goods, and try to reduce their costs to the point where you can get them moving – after all, it’s more worth it to have that space given to something you can actually use.


Remember all this going forward

Sadly, while overstocked items can’t be helped in a lot of cases, it can do you a lot of good to remember these lessons in the future. No matter how popular an item may seem to be at first, getting stuck with too many on hand can cost you a lot more time and energy than running out of a popular item would, and preventing unsold inventory buildup in the future can help your warehouse as a whole stay more successful and productive.

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