17 brilliant ideas for inventory reduction

January 7, 2016

Make your next inventory reduction sale memorable

Everyone’s shedding their indoor and outdoor holiday decorations and according to most New Year’s resolutions, they’re hoping to shed a few pounds too. Your shop needs to do the same. It’s Spring after all … at least in the eyes of every shop owner. Although you don’t want to make drastic sales a regular habit, a twice or 3 times a year clearance sale is very acceptable. I’ve put together a list of 17 brilliant ideas for inventory reduction of that heavy winter merchandise. Okay, I can say they’re brilliant because I put the list together. Pick one or two and clear out the old to bring in the new.

  1. The non-sale switcheroo –

    This is your best non-sale idea for inventory reduction. Try totally redesigning the look of your shop. Move racks, rounders, shelving units or anything else that will make your shop look and feel completely different. It’s amazing how just moving merchandise from one end of the shop to the other can make it more attractive to a buyer.

  2. Buy-the-Bag event –

    Hand out a grocery bag, laundry bag or a specially printed store bag to every customer that comes that day. Sell your merchandise at one price for the entire bag or bring in a scale and sell it by the pound.

  3. Find a new holiday –

    Did you know that January 13 is Make Your Dream Come True Day or that April 7th is No Housework Day? The internet is filled with websites that list crazy, fun “holidays” that can be celebrated with a special sale or a whole event. Take one of the really crazy ones like Hoodie Hoo Day (Feb. 20th) and any shopper who comes in and says, “Hoodie Hoo” receive a special discount.

  4. A Dutch Auction –

    Reduce the price of your winter merchandise weekly or even daily so that by the end, whatever you have left is down to the lowest possible price. I encourage you to discount deeply the first time around. If the idea is to move merchandise quickly, start the “auction” at 40 or 50% off.

  5. Calvin & Hobbs Inventory Reduction cartoonPreferred Customer Savings Event –

    Invite only your best customers to shop the night before the regular sales event begins. Provide beverages and snacks; teach a class on furniture painting or scarf tying and offer them a deeper discount on all sale merchandise for that evening only.

  6. DIY idea night –

    Collect a bevy of diy ideas and offer them along with merchandise at a discount. For instance, offer diy ideas for turning a mirror into a tray; sweaters into mittens and leggings or jars into a decorative craft caddy.  There are literally hundreds of ideas to use secondhand items for upcycling. Make a night of it and help your customers see the potential.

  7. Daily deals or weekly specials –

    Each week from now through February, choose particular items that receive an extra discount. For instance, every sweater or lamp is an extra 25% off. This is especially good when you want to avoid the idea of a clearance sale. Getting a deal sounds much better than buying an item during an Inventory Reduction Sale.

  8. Bundle! –

    Sometimes customers just can’t see the potential in putting separate items together. Showcase merchandise in a tableau creating an instantly warm and cozy feel. Whether it’s a chair, table, lamp and ottoman or a sweater, scarf, boots and hat…help your customers to envision the whole not just the individual. Then offer a special deal when they purchase the entire group of items.

  9. Mystery boxes –  

    Use attractive boxes or baskets and put together fun surprise packages. Don’t completely fill them with all of your unwanted items though. Be sure to add vintage knick knacks, colorful scarves, fuzzy mittens or unusual serving pieces. Put together all red or pink items and make mystery Valentine’s Day baskets. With lots of paper shred for filler and a cellophane wrapper, customers can see a little of what they’re getting, but not all.

  10. A BOGO sale –

    There’s no better way to double your inventory reduction than by offering a Buy One Get One Free or Buy One Get One 1/2 off Sale. It’s a great way to move particular merchandise fast. Use a BOGO sale to move slow-moving sizes, colors, overstocks and even totally unrelated items.

  11. The bargain bin –

    Some customers just like to dig (I’m one of them). They like nothing more than to dig into a huge basket, tub, bin or box for the remaining items that are deeply discounted. Often, shops will have a special area in the back for sale items, but for an inventory reduction sale, make sure it’s right out front.

  12. Let the weather decide –

    In seasons such as winter and summer, the weather can often be extreme. Choose a measuring point (i.e. any day below freezing, snow over 6″, sunny Sundays or windy Wednesdays) and then offer a discount accordingly. For instance, discount any item in your shop by an additional 10% for every 5 degrees below freezing. On a 20° day, customers would receive an extra 20% off.

  13. End cap contest-

    The end cap or space at the end of an aisle is some of the most valuable real estate in your shop. Let each of your employees take an end cap and merchandise it with items that need to move quickly. At the end of the week, see which employee’s end cap sold the most merchandise and offer the winner a prize.

  14. Special price coupons –

    Give your sales staff the ability to give special discounts to shoppers during a specific week. Print up coupons that say “You choose your sale price up to X amount.” Of course, the customer will choose the X price but that was the discount you were prepared to offer anyway. It provides an incentive for an immediate sale (make sure the coupon has a place for the end date) and it gives your employees a chance to build relationships with customers.

  15. 60 in 60 sale –

    Advertise a 60% off for 60 minutes one day only. Clearly state the day, hour (i.e. 11 am to 12 noon) and the 60% savings in all of your marketing. Make sure you print posters for your windows too. Close the store for the morning of the sale so that a crowd potentially builds outside your store. On the hour, open the door and let the sales begin!

  16. FishbowlFishbowl discounts –

    Create slips of paper with a variety of discounts on them. Let customers choose a slip of paper at the register which will determine the discount they’ll receive. Punch up the excitement by putting one slip in the fishbowl with the word FREE on it.

  17. Donating –

    Donating excess inventory to a charitable organization can offer certain tax benefits. If you’re not able to take advantage of the tax write-off, consider donating your items to an event that might also offer additional marketing opportunities in exchange for your merchandise. No matter what, the community goodwill that is generated from donations is always a plus.

Overall spring cleaning of your store is a must, read 6 tips for consignment shop spring cleaning.

Need help managing your inventory? Let SimpleConsign show you how easy it can be. 

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Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Coordinator for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.