How To Reduce Excess Inventory Without Major Markdowns

Here are a few tips to improve cash flow for both retailers and brands today, without altering consumer expectations.


Even if you were among the most agile in inventory management prior to the pandemic, you’re likely facing special challenges today thanks to COVID-19. You’re in good company. Some of the most successful retailers and brands are grappling with similar scenarios, restrategizing to overcome these unusual circumstances. Seasons have been cut short, buys have been renegotiated and shoppers are spending less across several categories of merchandise. Still, liquidating your assets or resorting to heavy markdowns aren’t the best solutions for long-term success. Protect your image – as a retailer or brand – and improve cash flow with these tips. 


Use Data to Move Inventory

Use your B2B e-commerce platform to create custom linesheets and 360° degree virtual showroom assortments for existing clientele. Strengthen these assortments of ready-to-buy immediately by reviewing past orders, bestsellers, and other key data. Also, look to recent conversations with wholesale clientele to ensure your offerings address their needs. 

Sell to New Clients and Markets

Cross-reference your inventory with potential clients’ needs. Research which SKUs could perform well at which retailers but also in what particular markets. Find out who is selling online, who is selling at full capacity in brick-and-mortar stores, who has partially-reopened in their area and other key data points. Finally, use the directory in your B2B e-commerce platform to connect and communicate with leads.

“[We are] on the phone every day with boutiques and telling them there is demand for luxury and very strong in China and other countries in [Asia].”



Choose Exciting Promotions in Lieu of Markdowns

Spend more, save more promotions are attractive incentives for shoppers to purchase more. The extra savings often encourage the sale of SKUs consumers desire but that weren’t necessarily at the top of their shopping lists. Meanwhile, BOGO promotions can be especially effective when offered for seasonal or trend-driven items.

Host Exclusive Shopping Events Online

The pandemic presents a unique e-commerce opportunity- everyone is spending more time online. Consumers are online more for work and play, and everyone is looking for more ways to feel entertained. Delight your shoppers. Host interesting and engaging sales online from livestream shopping events on social media to Instagram-exclusive sales and, a strong contender in recent months, private e-commerce archive sales requiring consumers to sign up with their email addresses for access.

Swap Merchandise Anonymously with Other Authorized Retailers

Swapping merchandise with other authorized retailers of the same brands is a cost-effective solution for resolving excess inventory. A new startup, SwapRetail, works with brands and retailers to accommodate safe and anonymous transactions. Transaction terms make it more cost-effective for retailers to seek inventory from their brand partners first before going on to swap or purchase other SKUs anonymously from other authorized sellers.

Retailers and Brands:

Use Conservative (and Creative) Discount Tactics

Offering some form of a discount may be unavoidable. The primary goal is to avoid excessive markdowns that could damage your bottom line and image. Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, use inventive discount tactics. For example, you can offer a discount for purchasing an outfit’s complete look, such as a crop top and skirt, to consumers; the same idea could be customized for wholesale clients purchasing matching sets by volume. Another tactic that could be used for B2B or B2C is offering X amount of credit towards merchandise in specific categories for spending X amount on loungewear, intimates, activewear or other high-performing categories. Finally, for B2B clients, offer incentives when buyers purchase slower-moving SKUs. Get creative. Tailor your offerings based on your retailer or brand and clientele. 

“Nobody wants to mark down new merchandise, but we are trying to keep ourselves going. The percentage we give away does hurt us, but [the sales] also help us keep going. We have to keep our cash flow and payroll. It’s medicine we have to take.”


PRO TIP: Brands, use your B2B wholesale platform to present attractive and engaging presentations. Leverage photos, videos, and 360° rotatable technology to present your on-hand inventory. Even discounted merchandise should continue to uphold the highest standards of your brand and the energy of your freshest inventory. 

Highlight Seasonless Merchandise

Create newness and generate excitement for seasonless merchandise by switching up marketing themes, editorials, style guides, and more. Core collection pieces and seasonless products stand to gain more traction than ever as these products support flexible calendars, unexpected weather patterns, and eco-conscious business practices and lifestyles.

“Reviewing your current inventory to identify product that could qualify as season-less or staples could help maintain some margin, while clearly seasonal product is on sale.”


Refresh Your Merchandising

Whether your brick-and-mortar stores are fully-operational or not, how are your windows dressed? Does your signage share updated store hours or direct shoppers to your website? When was the last time you updated your homepage’s merchandising? Make an audit of all of your physical and digital touchpoints and re-merchandise as needed.

Brands, how are your products merchandised on your B2B homepage? What about your virtual storefront? Is it time for an update?

Discover new ways to merchandise, market, and sell your wholesale inventory; request a demo.

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NuORDER is dedicated to providing thoughtful, informative B2B eCommerce industry insights. Brands use NuORDER's platform to deliver a seamless, more collaborative wholesale process, where buyers can browse products, plan assortments and make smarter buys in real-time.