Solving the Problem of Slow-Moving Inventory

Posted by lensdotcom on April 29, 2015

Anyone running a retail operation is all too familiar with the acronym SKU, or stock-keeping unit. If you’re the one charged with managing your inventory, you’re probably also familiar with SMI, or slow moving inventory.

Slow moving inventory is merchandise that is sitting in your warehouse and not moving out the door. The definition of slow moving inventory varies by business, but in general, they are typically defined as SKUs that haven’t moved in 90, 120, or 180 days.

Slow moving inventory is a problem – it ties up capital and space.  No retailer wants products that don’t sell, so how do ecommerce merchants find themselves in this predicament? And better yet, how can you prevent it from happening to begin with?

Here are a few common mistakes we see on the fulfillment services side that lead to inventory issues:

Site Search

Site design and site speed are becoming increasingly important in the ecommerce game. Customers need to be able to find things, and quickly. Some products may not be selling simply because they can’t be found easily, not because they aren’t quality items.

Categorize products well, include enough drop down menus and filter options, and if you can push slow moving inventory to the forefront on your main category pages, you will get them noticed.

Product Descriptions & Imagery

Products descriptions are becoming more important since the text is key to helping potential customers find them via an online search. Check to see if your current product descriptions provide enough information, like features, sizing and color, and ensure it provides top keywords that customers use to find that product online. Images speak for products online.

Products MUST be photographed well and from all angles to be considered “good” photos. Take extra care with your slow moving inventory and give them a little makeover. Style them differently, re-photograph them and use those images in your email and social media marketing campaigns.

SEO, Marketing & Promotions

SEO is the name of the game today – and potential customers need to be able to see your products on your website when they do a search before shopping. Take a look at how well your slow movers rank in terms of keywords. Perhaps cleaning up the descriptions and meta data on your site will help. It also pays to keep track of the customers who do buy some of those slow-moving items.

Perhaps you can offer the same at a discount, or in bulk. If nothing else, smart marketing and retargeting campaigns can also help push some of that stock off the shelves and into carts. Another way to make use of slow movers is to bundle them up as gifts! Teasing customers with a ‘free gift’ option over a certain dollar threshold can help increase average order size while liquidating some of that stock.

Have you dealt with inconsistent forecasts or discovered excess inventory you did not even know about? Add your recommendations below!

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