6 Steps to a Successful Virtual Warehouse Inventory Sale | Lane' J. Richards

6 Steps to a Successful Virtual Warehouse Inventory Sale

August 3, 2020

Selling off inventory can be a lot of work. Luckily, many of us have a little more time on our hands so now is the perfect time to organize your virtual warehouse inventory sale and enjoy a little more cash in hand.

What exactly do you need to do to ensure a successful sale? Let’s break it down…

1. Prepping for Your Sale

First, determine what you’re selling. Run an inventory utilization report and see who hasn’t “made rent” over the past 12 months. This also means going through your warehouse, storage, and home to find items you may not have listed.

Next, ready your inventory. Do spot-cleaning or repairs as you’ll get more money for well-maintained pieces. If you do sell damaged goods, be upfront about it and make sure it’s reflected in your pricing. Also, make sure your sale items are in one spot, such as near your loading dock so you don’t have to hunt something down after it’s been sold.

If you don’t have photos of the items you’re selling, take them and upload them to a file-sharing program such as Dropbox. This way when you post to your social media, the images will be readily available.

To make your entire process easier (and stay organized), I strongly recommend you create a quick spreadsheet with columns such as:

  • The inventory item you’re selling
  • How much you’re selling the item for
  • Contact information of the person who bought the item (name, email, phone number)
  • When the item will be picked up (and if it actually was picked up)

Click below to access a simple spreadsheet template via Google Sheets.

Last, choose a date for your virtual sale. More people are online now that they’re home so there’s no better day of the week than others.

2. Pricing Items for Sale

There is no golden rule for how to price inventory you’re liquidating. If you want to sell items fast, price on the lower end (such as the rental rate of the item). If you want to try and make more of a profit, charge a little higher. To give you an idea, pricing for a garage sale ranges between 10 and 30 percent of their retail value.

3. Marketing Your Virtual Warehouse Inventory Sale

You know what items you’re selling, for how much, and when your virtual sale will take place. Now it’s time to market like crazy!

You don’t want to start marketing too early as people will forget. Marketing 5-7 days in advance is ideal so long as you’re marketing via different platforms. Which platforms are those? I’ve found Instagram to be the best (both your feed and stories). Remember, however, that not everyone may see your posts. So if you have an email list, now is the perfect time to put it to use.

Give your audience a heads-up and to save the date. Be sure to include all the details such as no holds, all items are for sale on a first-come, first-served basis, how to pay for an item, and where pickups will take place.

One productivity tip: Create your social graphics in advance (Canva is my go-to tool for graphics). While you don’t need to create anything fancy for your inventory, you’ll want an eye-catching graphic for your Instagram feed (usually an image with a text overlay). You might also create an Instagram story graphic highlighting the rules and how the sale will go down.

via Party at the Moontower

4. What to do on Your Sale Day

You made it! With most of the heavy lifting done, it’s time to get down to business. Instagram stories are typically the best way to post the items you’re selling because stories go away in 24-hours (super convenient!). 

While not necessary, I like to prep my story photos in advance by adding the price and any other details either via Canva or upload to your stories, write your text, then download the image. Go one-by-one, cross-referencing your log from above making sure you have all your photos and correct pricing.

After you’re fully prepped, begin posting and let the sale begin!

via Party at the Moontower

5. Handling the Logistics

Normally, you’d have one day set aside for buyers to pick up their goods. However, since social distancing orders are in place for many states, you may need to get creative. Depending on how many items you sold, you could have a schedule that people can select from (15-30 minute “appointments” to allow time for loading) or simply have a window of time and ask people to stay in their cars if someone else is picking up at the same time. If you’re able to, you might even offer contact-less delivery (within a certain distance).

via Party at the Moontower

6. What to Do Post-Sale

After your sale has ended you’ll want to make sure you connect with all of your buyers to ensure payment was received and they know when and where to pick up items.

But that’s not all! Don’t forget to remove the item from your inventory management program so it doesn’t accidentally get rented. If the item was an asset (not expensed inventory), you’ll also need to keep track and let your accountant know for tax purposes.

Other Details to Consider

Most rental items you buy are likely expensed versus becoming an asset (in the eyes of the IRS). Therefore, if you have items leftover (especially smalls), donating them to Goodwill won’t be of any benefit to you. You’ve already taken the tax credit expensing the item so you won’t be able to claim a charitable deduction for your donation. One alternative is to partner with another organization, or even offer items up for free (typically for smalls such as tabletop decor).

If larger items don’t sell, you could cross-post to platforms such as OfferUp, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.

A well-planned virtual warehouse inventory sale can not only clear the clutter but offer some financial relief when you need it most. A word of caution, though, is to only plan 1-2 sales a year. By doing so, you’ll build up anticipation. They help create buzz, but if you schedule too many, too frequently, they’ll become watered down and won’t catch the attention of potential buyers.

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