Top Tips To Sell Excess Stock


Missy Confidential founder Melissa Emerson reveals how to handle stock clearance.


Even the most talented designers and experienced retailers will face the problem of overstock regularly. This can be for many reasons that range from the explainable to the unfathomable.

In my time talking with literally hundreds of designers and retailers, I can say we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to clear stock for highest return. Here are my tips to ensure overstock doesn't become a liability.

1. Clear directly and clear often

For some designers and retailers, a twice annual warehouse clearances is enough, but more often our clients have three or four big sales a year. Make the most of key shopping times, and that includes either May/June and October-December. Holding the sale in your own warehouse regularly will mean a higher return per item stays in your pocket.

2. Keep it in season

It might seem obvious, but holding a swimwear sale in July isn't going to work as well as one in November. If you have both summer and winter stock to clear, talk up the in-season stock when promoting your sale.

3. Set your sale dates early

Locking in dates in the calendar for the year’s worth of sales early will ensure the best chance at wider promotion and the most shoppers. However it does pay to remain flexible and to check the weather forecast early – wet days can kill the most organised sale.

4. Hold your physical sale first

While the online audience is potentially so much larger, the shoppers ready to shop your warehouse sale come with a sincere view to purchase, and they purchase more. Plus they rarely leave purchases ‘in cart’ when faced with the shipping cost. Isolate these two sales, don’t confuse the shopper by trying to promote both at the same time.

5. Have a clear discount message

For online sales, this means ensuring shoppers can see both the retail price and the sale price clearly. Know the current sale environment too, if your competitors are discounting by 50 per cent now, then your discounts will need to be on par.

6. Presentation counts

Create a shop feel that’s well organised and encourages shoppers to move through the sale and see it all. This includes: grouping stock in sizes; keeping racks loosely stocked with plenty of space to see what’s on them; display tables with smaller price point items, like belts close to the till queue; decorating with pretty posters showing off the looks and styles if you have them.

7. Incentivise bigger purchases and remind shoppers at the checkout

At a denim sale on the weekend, I saw girls literally go back to the table from the queue and grab an identical pair of jeans to get the third pair discount.

8. Keep the mood upbeat

We know sales can test the patience of your staff, particularly by day three – but remember sale shoppers solve your overstock problems, and so a helpful gesture can go a long way to helping them buy more.

9. Final day – always price to clear

Amazingly, the value of a $1000 unsold designer dress at the end of the season is pretty poor. It's better to sell that dress for $200 now than to have it languish gathering dust in the storeroom another year.

An empty warehouse is absolutely priceless

The emotional drain of seeing old stock hanging on racks is as real as the financial burden, so clear often and clear big.