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

Slow-moving inventory is merchandise sitting in your warehouse and not moving out the door. What defines slow-moving inventory varies by business, but generally, it’s 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?

Here are a few common mistakes that lead to inventory issues:

Site Search

Site design and speed are critical in ecommerce. Your customers need to be able to find products quickly. Some products may not sell simply because they can’t be found, not because they aren’t quality items.

Categorize products appropriately, include enough drop-down menus, filter options, keyword search, and have other names for your products in the description. If you can push slow-moving inventory to the forefront on your main category pages, you will get them noticed.

Product Descriptions & Imagery

Product descriptions are 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 offers 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, and potential customers need to be able to see your products when they search online. Look at how well your slow movers rank in terms of keywords. Perhaps cleaning up the descriptions and metadata 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, innovative marketing and retargeting campaigns can also help push some of that stock off the shelves and into carts. Another way to use 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.