How to Rotate Inventory of your Online Store Quicker: Importance of Being New in Fashion
When was it that you launched a new collection on your website? I am asking you about ‘launching’ a new ‘collection’. I am not saying when did you last uploaded new products to your online store? Silently uploading 10 new products to your website is not launching a new collection.
When you launch a new collection on your website, you do things such as:
- you buy the specific style of products with a particular theme in mind
- you invest in content required to present the collection – photography, copywriting, graphic designing etc.
- you present the collection on your website’s homepage loudly
- you create a lookbook for the new collection
- you announce the launch of the collection via. social media & emails
So let me ask you again – when was it when you launched a new collection on your website. If your answer is never or more than 3 months ago, may be you’re struggling with rotating your inventory. Not being able to move your stock can be a huge problem because when you’re unable to rotate your old stock, you obviously can’t buy new stock because all your money is stuck in the current stock.
When you start out your season, all your stock is fresh. As the time passes some will sell, some won’t. After some time (let’s stay 1 month), the sold stock is replaced by ‘some’ newer, fresher stock. The unsold stock remains, it isn’t so appealing now.
By the third month, of course, the old stock is noticeably still there. At this point, because of the old inventory, your overall stock becomes unappealing and irrelevant to the returning visitor.
Profitable businesses thrive on repeat orders and if you’re unable to move your stock, it can have a direct impact on your website’s repeat orders. Your revenue will remain low and consequently, you won’t be able to afford to buy new stock, even to replace the previously sold inventory.
Thus the consequence of failing to effectively rotate your inventory is bigger than what you think, especially in fashion because fashion is all about staying new. If you can’t rotate your stock, your brand starts to look outdated to your customers. When the visitors find the same products on your website every day, they feel they’re buying from a deadstock. It completely defeats your whole idea of being in the business of Fashion. As I said, Fashion by its nature means changing and staying current with what’s new.
1) How to effectively rotate your inventory?
For most fashion retailers, bad buying decisions and especially buying excess inventory is mostly responsible for inventory becoming stale in the subsequent. You should plan your aggregate inventory very carefully and this is how you can do it:
2) Keep your first buy small
If you’re working with a new vendor who is offering great design, quality & price, don’t place a big order without getting the opinion of your customers. First, place a small order and put it on your website to see how quickly it gets sold out before committing to a bigger order.
3) Don’t be too reactive to customer demands
Listening to customers is good but don’t be too reactive to customer’s demand for adding a new category to your store. Be selective with what you want to sell. Be thoughtful, see if the new product category in sync with the core of your brand.
4) Use strategic discounts to get rid of unsold stock
Remember that, often stock rotation is more important than short-term profits in the business of fashion. Use discounts to get rid of dead-stock as soon as you can. It helps in keeping your inventory moving. Organize clearance sale every month (you can offer 10 – 25% discount) and heavier discount (in the range of 40 – 75%, no returns) twice every year to clear the remaining dead stock and keeping your inventory and overall brand experience as new as possible.
5) Highlight the new stock
If you’re doing everything right to get your inventory moving but you’re not communicating it to your customers, your brand will still not look that new. Your new products should not go unnoticed by your returning visitors. Start communicating with your customers with the help of new banners and lookbooks of the new collection. Announce it to your subscribers and people who’re following your brand on social media. Train them to expect something new each time they visit your store. They should feel the urge to come back to your website regularly to see what’s new.
6) Sell your dead stock on Flash sale websites
If the dead stock inventory is too big to move from the website or if you want to liquidate inventory in bulk, contact flash sale websites and get them to quickly move your dead stock.
I am the Founder at ILoveFashionRetail, where we design & develop e-commerce websites & mobile apps for fashion retailers. We also help fashion brands grow their online sales & traffic. My essays are featured at Forbes, Moz, Fairchild, FIT and more. Contact me.