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8 Ways Retailers Can Move Surplus Inventory During COVID-19

Chris Corrado

Retailers have been forced to adapt to a new marketing landscape in light of COVID-19. Some retailers have successfully pivoted to new consumer demands, leveraging their marketing channels to connect products with the shoppers who need it most. But there are new challenges emerging, particularly as retailers balance their marketing efforts with inventory management. For some retailers, products they anticipated would move quickly prior to COVID-19 risk sitting in a warehouse unsold.

In the apparel vertical in particular, retailers may face new challenges to sell out their spring collections and promote their summer catalog early to compensate for lower demand.

In the short term, retailers with surplus inventory are looking to adjust their goals on marketing platforms like Google Ads and Amazon and develop a plan to sell products quickly. My team and I are seeing several trends emerge, and we have identified the following best practices to consider to move surplus inventory and adjust to new shopping behaviors in light of COVID-19. While these strategies are particularly valuable now, they can be applied any time surplus inventory is an issue.

1. Develop a Surplus Inventory Campaign

Create dedicated campaigns for excess inventory on Google Shopping and Google paid search. These campaigns should have a lower ROAS target to allow you to set higher bids and deliver ads to a larger audience.

Choose specific products types to prioritize and develop a surplus inventory strategy for each. Lowering ROAS goals will give your team flexibility to test different strategies and determine which works best for different products. Set a timeline for how long you want to push certain products so that if a product isn’t doing well, you can reduce spend and focus on the more valuable parts of your catalog. 

2. Consider New Ways to Target Shoppers

While you should always layer granular targeting into your Google Ads campaigns, consider new ways to reach shoppers during this time by adapting demographic, dayparting, and geotargeting settings. For example, some older shoppers who typically don’t shop online could become a valuable demographic as their online shopping activity increases. Different times of the day may become more valuable to advertise your products as shoppers’ behaviors shift. Monitor these trends closely to ensure you’re targeting excess inventory to the audiences with intent to purchase your products right now.