Retail Strategies: Ways to Sell Off Old Stock


If your customers didn’t buy all your merchandise during a major sales campaign, you still have ways to shift leftover stock and recover some of your capital: organise an auction!

Despite your best efforts, you might be left with certain items following a major sales drive, for example, after the Christmas season. Don’t let them go to waste – here are some tips on how to deal with surplus, and recover some of your investment.

If well planned, an auction can be the ideal strategy for you to shift any leftover products out of season. The important thing is to find the best moment possible to launch your auction.

When to do it?

First of all, let’s understand that a business or company should decide to initiate an auction or liquidation strategy when you want to:

  • Generate income in a short time.

  • Shift the stock so that the products don’t take up space.

  • Attract new customers or occasional buyers.

How to organise it?

It is important that you define your auction strategy and clarify certain aspects to the public to avoid any misunderstanding. Keep these basic points in mind:

  1. One of the keys to the success of an auction is to choose the appropriate date for the event (for example, coinciding with payday for most people, e.g. end of the month).

  1. Make it clear to the public that the promotion will only be for a certain period of time with promotional phrases such as "Limited Offer” and “Take Advantage Now!", etc.

  1. Mention to customers that you only have a certain number of products to auction, and encourage them to buy fast. Create a sense of urgency!

  1. Display the products in a striking way, stating that they are in liquidation, differentiating them from the rest. For this you could improve the lighting, colours, display environment, etc.

Also, try to define your strategy thinking about the different types of customers that will surely visit your business when you prepare an auction of surplus stock:

  • There are customers who only consume when there is a discount.

  • There are others who reflect on the convenience of making the purchase.

  • There are new customers who will be attracted by the offers you are advertising.

Generate buzz!

You can use some of the stock items to help promote your auction: consider bundling certain items together with regular stock in the build up to the event, in order to create more interest. Also consider repurposing some of the surplus stock items as promotional merchandise to create greater brand awareness and promote your business in general.

Could you adapt certain items to include your store name, brand name, or other marketing message and use these items as giveaways or prizes, or similar?

Schedule auction sessions in which customers can participate in bidding for some of the higher value surplus items. This is fun and creates a lot of interest, as many bargain hunters are naturally competitive. You’ll shift your leftover stock and visitors to your store will have a fun time interacting with your business: a win-win scenario!

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