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Don’t Marry Your Inventory

Yes, you bought it. But not for the long term. Your inventory is more like a one-night stand. Love it and leave it. Love it and sell it. Love it and let it go.

Today I am kicking a lot of my inventory to the curb. The Just for Fun Sale starts at 9:30am. Products that I loved were not loved quite so much by my customers. That’s okay. We marked them down and are going to find them all good homes.

Most of this stuff has been here less than 18 months, some less than a year, some came in just last fall. If I ordered a case of six of something and could only sell two during the busy holiday rush, those other four pieces left behind aren’t going to sell without some help.

Before we got a POS system, I would hear the wedding bells of buyers telling me, “That’s a must-have, Phil. We need to stock up on those.” After the POS showed we only sold 1 of the 24 pieces on hand over the past two years, the wedding vows would be echoing, “But I love this item. It just needs time to sell.” Or I would hear the classic toast of, “I can’t afford to mark this down…”

Don’t marry your inventory. Love it and let it go.

Makes it easier when you count your inventory, too. Missing a few items? Shoplifters got some goodies? Do the math. How much is missing? If your shrinkage is less than 1% of your sales, you’re doing pretty darn good. Years ago the National Retail Federation stated that annual shrinkage is around 3%, with employee theft being the biggest part of that, followed by customer theft and employee errors (either at the cashwrap or at the receiving end).

You are going to be shoplifted. You are not immune to theft. Put in all the cameras and security measures you want. Won’t stop it completely. Wal-Mart has cameras and other security measures and still about $500,000 goes missing per store. It is just the cost of doing business. If that cost is less than 1%, then you’re doing things right. Don’t lament the loss.

Inventory is a means to an end. Its sole purpose is to move out the door one way or another and find its long-term lover, so that you can replace it and move on. That lover is not you. You are just the go-between, the rebound guy, the pimp.

Don’t marry your inventory. Go find it the love of its life – at whatever cost – and move on.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Your end game is to get the customers to love the product more than you love it. Plain and simple. The most profitable way is better merchandising. Give the product good exposure on the shelf, a sign, a spotlight, or whatever it takes to make the product shine. But if that doesn’t work, dump it and move on. The sooner the better.

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