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Six Tips for Liquidating Post-Holiday Overstock Inventory

By Aron Hsiao  on December 11, 2015

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Once the holiday sales season is over, sellers are inevitably faced with the task of moving remaining unsold inventory. This task can be every bit as daunting as the high-volume sales push that happens in November and December.

For sellers, the post-holiday clearance and inventory liquidation season is nearly here. Here's how to make the most of it. (Image: © Photographerlondon / Dreamstime)

While each seller and niche requires tailored strategies to ensure that leftover goods are effectively liquidated, there are also a few general strategies that sellers can keep in mind to ease the pain and ensure that remaining products don't weigh bottom lines down heading into the new year.

  1. Use Terapeak to research the year-round performance of remaining inventory. Use Terapeak to study sales of your remaining products not just for the holiday seasons, but over an entire year of sales. It's not uncommon to find that products sell well not just during the holidays, but during other particular seasons or times of year as well. If products are likely to see another sales spike within a few weeks or months, it might make sense hold onto that inventory and sell into the next likely peak, when the wind will be at your back—if you can afford to do so.

  2. Enhance your terms and promotional offers. If you're not already offering free shipping, do so. If you have an eBay Store, use Markdown Manager to hold a "January Liquidation Sale." Consider bundling low-value, low-margin items with high-value ones as promotional value-adds. Sweeten the pot a little bit to try to catch value-conscious January buyers that will be hunting for deals in the post-holiday landscape.

    Update your Terapeak research once the season is over, using post-holiday date ranges, to see how shopper preferences and international markets have changed. Then, update your listings and strategies.
  3. Use Terapeak to update your listings for January and February. The best keywords, listing formats, listing durations, and international markets for a particular product can change significantly once the holiday selling season is over. Return to your listings for the products in your inventory and use Terapeak tools like Product Research and the Title Builder to update each of these listing dimensions, to be sure that you target the shoppers and needs of January, rather than those of November and December.

  4. Sell to other sellers. January is often a sourcing season for other sellers as well. Consider bundling up inventory that you don't want to carry year-round into larger lots and selling it at or slightly below cost to other sellers that do want to carry it year-round, either on eBay or elsewhere. Recoup most or all of your sourcing costs while enabling another seller to profit on goods that you don't want to have on your balance sheet for a post-holiday win-win arrangement.

  5. Transparently reduce your exposure and overhead. Be honest in your listings about your desire to move products that you don't want to carry any longer, as well as about your reluctance to support them. Reduce your returns period and support level and increase restocking fees. Consider no returns or AS-IS sales. Shoppers can embrace all of these changes if you're up front about items being unwanted overstock and price accordingly. Make sure that as you liquidate, you're not actually generating more headaches and expenses for yourself down the road.

  6. Lower your prices to emphasize success rate over margins. If you're not in a position to carry the extra inventory profitably, don't try to do it; use Terapeak to identify the lower price bound, then undercut it. As eBay coach Kathleen Manning points out, most sellers gain when they turn dead inventory into liquid funds to acquire new inventory. Focus on moving the goods that will weigh you down, even if it means taking a loss. Move the goods and clear the warehouse. Capital that you free this way gives you the agility to source updated, profit-generating inventory quickly.

Along with these tips, one more general principle also applies—start early. It's easy to have a natural reluctance to take steps early to move inventory at a loss; hope springs eternal, after all, or at least wants to spring until the very last moment. But be honest with yourself; you know which products are going to be the problem products well before December is over.

Fail to move quickly and other, more agile sellers that are able to recapitalize before you are going to be maximizing their profits while you're still agonizing over last year's duds. Don't let that happen—do your research, plan consciously, and move remaining inventory as needed both early and quickly, to start the new year off right!

 
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