4 Ways to Sell Seasonal Inventory After the Season Ends

What happens now that seasonal items once stuck at factories or in ports have finally reached retailers, after the holidays have come and gone? These four tips will help keep outdated inventory from becoming stagnant.

We’re all aware the supply chain has been severely backed up. Headlines made us aware of this reality months ago. Since then, we’ve all speculated how holiday shopping would be disrupted by elongated shipping deadlines.

In the monthly Global Port Tracker report from Nov. 2021, NRF’s Jonathan Gold said retailers did their due diligence to guarantee plenty of inventory for the holidays. But the best-laid plans never amount to much when product is stuck in port or delayed in transit. So, what’s next? What happens now that seasonal items once stuck at factories or in ports have finally reached retailers, after their designated season has come and gone?

Unfortunately, assortment planning has taken a turn for the uncontrollable. But what you can control is how you adapt your e-commerce site in response to fluctuations in stock levels. Delayed merchandise that arrived after the peak season can still be profitable. Automation, paired with strategic online merchandising and marketing, will offer retailers the relevancy and visibility their assortments need to be successful in 2022, even as disruption continues.

  1. Automating the selection process with boost rules

Product-boosting rules enable retailers to create dynamic parameters for promotion. Applying automation to certain product attributes brings the related items to the top of the organic results set. These rules will continue to stay in effect and re-order the products in real time as availability changes.

These rules should be automated based on customer spending behavior and can be used to reflect customers’ immediate concerns. Retailers can promote traditional best-sellers that resonate at a certain time of year or prioritize items that are relevant to major trends. For instance, retailers can showcase comfortable workwear on their e-commerce channels as people return to the office. Doing so effectively could even make it appealing to transition from sweatpants suitable for work-from-home to a more dressed-up look for the office.

As another example, activewear brand Fabletics launched a clothing line in 2020 with Demi Lovato with proceeds going toward gear for frontline workers. Since this philanthropic effort was important to the brand, and the celebrity connection was sure to improve sales, Fabletics boosted these products throughout category pages on the website.

  1. Cross- and upsell- bundling

Product bundling is an effective merchandising strategy for cross-selling complementary products and enticing shoppers to spend more when visiting the e-commerce site.

When certain products are selling significantly faster than others, retailers should try bundling the top-selling items with the slower-moving stock. Grouping inventory in this way can make it more manageable, enabling retailers to clear out items that are less likely to sell on their own. In a normal year, bundles can be based on certain themes or discounted strategically to build excitement for the product pairing.

Retailers can use data to combine complementary products, offer discounts, take advantage of scarcity, and leverage holiday generosity to reap the rewards of bundles. For example, Nourished Life, a clean beauty company, started selling an in-demand hand sanitizer as part of a discounted care pack with lotion and other products.

This strategy is recommended for retailers who find that current shoppers only visit the website with one specific product in mind. Bundling is a great way to get related or overstock items on customers’ radar and increase basket size and merchandise turnover at the same time.

  1. Offloading final sale products with rule-based merchandising

Rule-based merchandising can also be used to automate the promotion cycle to save time and maintain optimal pricing strategies.

By setting criteria for when items should move up and down the results pages and how that impacts pricing, retailers can strategically rotate which items are on sale. For some retailers boosting items that are selling well makes sense. That being said, others may want to boost slower-selling products, like holiday merchandise that arrived after the peak season. Flash sales can also be used to trial deep discounts to shift stock quickly and build customer intrigue.

  1. Highlighting new arrivals with badges and banners

Another tactic for using online channels to sell seasonal inventory is to prominently showcase items on the homepage that arrived in large quantities after the holiday season. To generate interest, retailers can create banners and badges to highlight new products that are high in stock and ready to ship.

These simple visuals instantly encourage customers to browse these items, while also signaling that the fulfillment process will be smooth, despite the disruptions making the news. Additionally, retailers can use badges to highlight new stock of outdoor gear and apparel. This leverages intuitive site navigation that makes finding and filtering new products incredibly easy to do.

Improving merchandise turnover with innovation

When battling supply chain issues, retailers should review their merchandising strategy and, if needed, change the focus. This will keep outdated inventory from becoming stagnant on page two of search results. Boosting, bundling, highlighting, and promoting those items that need an extra push will keep sales moving until product levels even out and supply chain chaos subsides.

-Peter Messana, CEO, Searchspring