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Even though many warehouses are busy right now, the sight of items piling up unsold isn’t an uncommon one.

Certain products aren’t going to be quite as in-demand as others during the pandemic, as people prioritize what they need over what they want. While the slowdown won’t last forever, you’re probably starting to deal with an excess of goods that aren’t moving, and you may be at a loss for how to deal with them.


Storing & Processing Overstock Inventory During the Pandemic


The unique conditions created by the pandemic will likely cause you to have to be a little more creative with how overstock and excess inventory is stored and processed. Most vendors and distributors will have current restrictions in place as to what returns they can accept, due to safety and capacity restrictions, which means even if you need to send something back, it can take a while. So, what are you going to do with it in the meantime?

As space and safety concerns allow, the first step should be to try and find more storage for these items elsewhere. Take them out of the standard rotation (or leave a small amount behind to handle any orders for these items that may trickle in), and start to move them onto other warehouse shelving elsewhere in the warehouse – preferably farther back so that these items don’t interfere with your pickers as they try to find the items they need to fulfill their orders.


As you relocate these items further back on your shelves or pallet racks, make sure to keep them properly labeled and identified as well. Create new product barcodes and/or RFIDs for these products to indicate they’re now backstock and not to be sold or commingled into the standard inventory, and use shelving label holders to keep them properly tagged and identified. (For these overstock items that remain in the general inventory, if any exist, keep them on their original barcode or inventory marking to avoid confusion and miscounts later.)


Don’t forget to keep these items in your cycle counts as well – even if you’re not actively selling them, or even trying to store them elsewhere to sell/ship back to the vendor later, you’ll want to make sure the on-hand inventory numbers match what your system says you should have to prevent issues down the line.


Finally, this inventory needs to be kept as safe as the rest of your goods are during the pandemic. During your regular cleaning routines, keep these products in mind for cleaning and disinfecting to stop any germs from lingering on them during their stay on the excess-inventory section. This can help keep your workers and products safer overall, as dust buildups can contribute to the spread of germs and bacteria even on products that aren’t being handled as often.

Once the pandemic is over, hopefully you’ll be able to find a new home for your backstock inventory. Until then, however, you can use these tips to keep these items functioning as part of the inventory and safe from infection before everything gets back to “normal.”

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