Practical Ecommerce

Deleting slow-moving inventory

My Wedding Décor will celebrate its second birthday next month.

When the website launched in April 2015, it began with 80 products, which had grown to almost 500 products at the end of 2016.

But when I launched its sister website, My Event Décor, at the end of January 2017, it was time to firmly reassess my product line for both.

As a result, I have deleted or replaced about 100 products for the following reasons.

Changed market positioning

I originally offered wedding décor for hire in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane on My Wedding Décor.

For the My Event Décor site, I duplicated, and rewrote, the descriptions of all non-bridal My Wedding Décor rental items that would appeal to those organizing corporate events in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. I then added to My Event Décor a number of products targeted to expos, product launches, store openings, and corporate dinners.

I deleted all Sydney and Brisbane rental products on My Wedding Décor to focus on Melbourne-only rental products — I live near Melbourne — and have kept Australia-wide wedding items for purchase to couples, stylists, and wedding planners.

Low initial orders didn’t grow into larger orders

I deleted many wedding products for purchase or rent that were priced at sub-$30. I discovered it took almost as much time to process a $900 gold Tiffany chair rental order as it does for a $29 wedding cake topper.

My theory that some bridal customers might buy an inexpensive item to test my company’s services, and then buy increasingly larger orders did not hold true.

Nearly all of my repeat My Wedding Décor customers have been stylists, wedding planners, and event managers whose budgets are large – and get larger with subsequent orders.

While I was initially worried about getting rid of my low-priced products, it has lifted my average order value, and positioned my website as higher-end as a result.

Changes in minimum order quantities

One supplier whose original rental threshold was $200 increased it overnight to $500. This forced me to delete many of their lower-priced products that would have required a ridiculous number of units hired to reach their threshold.

However, there are “must-have” event décor items, such as chairs, that customers often — but not always — rent in large quantities. To meet the new rental threshold, I packaged an offering of a wooden wedding arch with 30 folding chairs for rent.

Trendy products forced a change in suppliers

When you have a trendy product, such as floral walls in event décor as backdrops, the original suppliers either go high-end and raise their prices (due to demand), or they keep prices the same and are frequently booked out.

But, conversely, the law of supply and demand means high demand leads to a rise in its supply. Thus, for trendy products, I eventually found emerging suppliers whose prices were much lower than the original supplier.

Once a product has peaked in trendiness, I typically lower its price because it has started to wane in favor with the high-spending, cutting-edge crowd and is becoming a lower-priced generic item.

Deleted single-product suppliers

I had to delete a couple of suppliers who provided a single, unique, rental product. I did this for three reasons.

First, it took me almost as much time to check availability for the one item as for several items with one supplier.

Second, the single-product suppliers charged delivery fees to transport and collect that item. Had customers wanted to rent only that item, it would have been fine. However, the customers usually wanted to hire several items from — unbeknownst to them — several suppliers. This meant near-four-figure delivery fees, at which the customers baulked.

Third, the single-product suppliers began to use search engine optimization techniques, making it much easier to find their product on Google, which meant customers tended to choose the original supplier, not my business, to rent it from.

The lame-duck products

Every retailer has them: the products they believe will be sure-fire winners but, instead, fail to sell (or, in my case, rent).

Some of my event decor products that didn’t sell or rent as much I thought they might include a Millennium Falcon cake pan, soccer-ball-sized votive holders handmade from raw twigs, steampunk-style copper piping candlesticks, gold mercury glass pineapple shape vases, a Lego bridal couple cake topper, faux moss placemats, seashell place card holders, and a set of eight hand-painted red Tiffany chairs.

Last-chance products

I have a few products that have yet to sell or rent because they have poor photography. I plan to showcase them with professional images from a recent wedding photo shoot.

I hope to convince a wedding magazine editor to publish the images. If so, it could well boost the products’ desirability, and therefore lead to sales.

And if they don’t sell, well, they’ll be deleted, too.

What decisions do you make to cut products that don’t sell?

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  1. David Pascal March 28, 2017 Reply

    I do purchasing for the groceries category at Zumub.com. Since these have short expiration dates, when they aren’t sold 1 month before the expiration we try to liquidate them. If even with 60% discount they don’t have demand I will discontinue these products. That is the main reason we discontinue products

    • Elizabeth Hollingsworth March 29, 2017 Reply

      Thanks for your comments, David.

      How much time do you allow for new products to be bought, and do you have a percentage they have to reach before they’re retained as permanent items on your website?