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How to Turn Dead Inventory Into Cash Through a Warehouse Sale
Obsolete, dead inventory haunts most small businesses, especially cash-strapped growing companies. Old product lines, failed concepts, or simply too much of what used to be good inventory can strain your balance sheet and hold you back from investing in future opportunities. Maybe you’re tired of presenting your dead inventory to customers and ready to send it all to the landfill. However, a great way to get cash back is to turn your warehouse into a pop-up shop and hold a warehouse sale. A cowboy knows that at the right price, an old cow can still pocket some much-needed cash.
To run a successful warehouse sale, you need to do three things: advertise effectively, prepare thoroughly, and actively manage the sale.
Opening your warehouse to the public creates a new shopping destination that consumers are unfamiliar with. Even if you price everything for pennies on the dollar, you won’t sell much at all if no one knows about the sale. Here are some ways to get the word out about your sale:
- Flyers – placed on cars and given out to friends. This is the most cost-effective way to start advertising. Focus on store parking lots that are related to your products. Also, obey all laws and respect business rules.
- Craigslist – Post some higher tickets that you want to sell to get people interested.
- Newspapers and classified ads – Depending on your target audience, this is still a great way to reach people effectively.
- Facebook – Even if you don’t have a company Facebook page, encouraging employees to spend some time at work and share it with their friends is an effective crowd-builder.
- Neighboring Enterprises – Visit your neighbors, vendors and customers and inform them about the sale. Many people come in for lunch to see what you have to offer.
- Signs – in cooperation with local businesses and neighbors, putting up signs and arrows helps to attract curiosity and customers. Just as garage sale signs lead people to their destination, you should also put up many signs that lead people to your warehouse, which are otherwise hard to find. Billboards are an added bonus if the budget allows.
- Email blasts – If you have an email list, this is the perfect time to use it. Offering incentives through blasting can help build loyalty to the company even after the sale. If you don’t have an email list, use warehouse sales to create one.
- Word of mouth – Ask people who buy from you to tell others about the sale. This can go a long way in attracting more customers.
- Radio – If you have a budget, usually several thousand for an effective campaign, radio is a great way to attract a lot of people. Start advertising about 10 days before the event and increase the frequency of advertising before the event.
- Television – although advertising can be expensive, local news stations can offer several options to offer the promotion for less.
A successful marketing campaign for a warehouse sale, especially the first sale, requires 10-20% of the amount you want to sell. If you only want $10,000, a budget of $1,500 is fine. If you want to put up a lot more, then plan more ads.
Your warehouse is probably not designed for consumer shopping. By turning your warehouse into a store, consumers feel better and spend more. Preparation consists of two parts: (1) security and traffic flow, and (2) pricing and merchandising.
Security and traffic flow
Some of your customers are likely to bring children with them. This is very important to remember when making sales plans, because a typical warehouse holds many dangers for six-year-old boys. To protect your customers and manage your unsold inventory, you need to lock off areas of your warehouse where you don’t want them to touch everything. Some orange safety fences from Uline work great. You may also want to put up signs to answer the common questions you’ll hear: “Do you have a restroom?”, “Do you accept returns?”, “Do you accept credit cards?” or “Where can I log out? ” IKEA does a great job with signage when answering their customers’ questions, so use IKEA as an example.
Pricing and sales
Extremely low prices are the key to moving dead stock. Remember, no matter how much you paid for it, your products are only worth what the consumer will pay for them. 75% or more off the product’s retail price is a good place to start, but you’ll probably need to cut a lot more on some products. Let the adage “Stack it Deep, Sell it Cheap” guide your pricing decisions. Remember, warehouse sales aren’t about margin; Warehouse sales are all about recovering cash from dead inventory. If for some reason there is a margin, you should consider opening a retail channel.
Whether it’s a black marker on cardboard or a beautifully printed graphic, large signs are great for informing customers of impressive prices. It usually helps to show multiple prices: Retail Price $79.99, Sale Price $29.99, Stock Price $8. This technique helps customers know what a great price they are getting.
Work with your accounting department to figure out how to factor sales tax into your prices and sell everything as a round number ($1 or $3 instead of $0.99 or $2.97). Although 99 cents is below the psychological threshold of a dollar, never dealing with coins at the register gets people through much faster than counting the money.
Have them fill a bag for ten to twenty bucks if you have a variety of bulk goods or whatever there are tons of. This creates excitement and sells products that you wouldn’t sell much individually.
While many people come to a warehouse sale expecting to dig through boxes, bins, and pallets, the easier it is for customers to get to products, the more you’ll be able to move around. Stacking six pallets, placing a skid plate on top, and then arranging the items is a great way to get your merchandise up where consumers can easily reach it. Also, wide aisles reduce crowding—especially for moms with strollers or shoppers stocking up on what you’re selling.
You’ve gotten the word out about your warehouse sale and you know hundreds of people are planning to come. He spent hours with his team preparing everything with beautiful signage and low prices. He’s done a fantastic job so far, but as the first customers enter the warehouse, the bull riding has only just begun.
The key to moving the most inventory – and generating the most cash – is to have someone who can make pricing decisions throughout the entire merchandising process. Keep a large black marker in your pocket and use it often. Know which products you absolutely want to disappear, and lower the price until they start moving. If five bucks is two high, try three bucks—or buy one for five, get one free. Be strategic about your pricing, though, because you’ll make more cash selling two items for five dollars than selling each item for three.
Another reason to be outside is the trial. “Are you interested in that old water cooler? – make an offer” – and he will accept almost anything. Talk to customers and answer their questions. With prices this low, selling is very easy and usually just explaining the price will be the selling point.
Warehouse sales are also a great opportunity for the product development team to speak directly to customers. Consider listing some future products at a deeply discounted price to see which ones sell. Talk to people and learn what you can do to avoid stockpiling in the future. In addition, the presence of people who can explain all the features and benefits of the product and even give personal recommendations convinces many people to continue buying.
At the end of the sale, invite your liquidation partners to take whatever is left. Not only does this help you save payroll dollars on cleaning, but it cleans everything completely so you can move on. Selling at a loss hurts, but it puts cash in your pocket. A business can survive a loss of net income, but a business can easily drown in a cash flow barrier – which a warehouse sale can break.
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