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Sell your last stock.

warehouse-saleLast season’s stock has always been a sticking point for retailers, but there are ways to maximise profit in this area.

Retailers like TK Max and MandM turn over large revenue from other brands’ last season stock. But if you are a brand or manufacturer, what can you do to maximise your revenue?

The traditional route of having end of season sales is one method that has worked very well for bricks and mortar retailers. Yet while this works for stores, it does not translate well for eCommerce. For eCommerce, there are a number of problems that need to be overcome to make last season’s stock sales effective.

Traditional eCommerce shoppers will typically be looking for a specific product; they will have arrived at the site by some marketing mechanism such as search engine, affiliate and email campaigns. It is likely that the product is not in clearance, and the way to attract the shopper to the clearance section is with merchandising assets. Using merchandising assets to promote a clearance sale is never the best use of limited space on an eCommerce site, when you want to be promoting items that will provide you with the highest margin. Of course, a merchant could use product recommendations (cross sells, up sells, etc) to promote the clearance, yet the greatest return would never be achieved by using this with clearance items.

The second problem is that all products on a traditional eCommerce site are subject to marketing costs, specifically from affiliates. What might have started out as a healthy margin on a clearance item will quickly get reduced when all costs are taken into account.

The third problem is that if clearance items are put on at the end of each season, the eCommerce platform will have to handle the spike in traffic. Shoppers often wait until the clearance sale before they purchase an item, which happens in both eCommerce and bricks and mortar stores. If the items are put on regularly (weekly or monthly) then the impact of these items can be lost in the normal look of the site, and shoppers may ignore the clearance section.

There is nothing stopping a retailer/manufacturer offloading their last season stock to another retailer who specialises in this area, but the returns made from this are not great. And worse still, the retailer/manufacturer will not know who is purchasing their product, which is very valuable data.

So what other options are there? Well, one that I am most passionate about is online Private Sales, also known as Flash Sales. Private Sales eCommerce sites allow a retailer or manufacturer to offer last season’s stock to an exclusive club of shoppers. There is virtually no marketing cost, as members of the Private Sales site promote the site virally and get rewarded when they do! Each item of clearance is grouped in an Event and each Event has a start and end time; this not only encourages shoppers to participate in the Event on the website, but also encourages impulse purchasing, which is normally hard to achieve on traditional eCommerce sites. Typically, Private Sales sites see a conversion rate of 10%. The margins achieved from Private Sales sites will be more than a traditional eCommerce site offering clearance items as Private Sales sites do not promote products on affiliate sites or price comparison sites. Lastly, and most importantly, Private Sales eCommerce sites are designed to handle very large peaks of traffic, as each Event can have over one million shoppers attending.

If you are interested in seeing retailers who are using Private Sales for clearance and latest fashion items effectively, then look at online only fashion retailer/manufacturer