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How to Sell Excess Inventory During the Holidays

The toy industry has seen a reduction in new products arriving in time for the 2020 holiday season. Here are eight tips to help you sell those extra toys.

With the holidays fast approaching, retailers are usually busy ordering and organizing holiday inventory. This year, however, COVID-19 has impacted the global supply chain by disrupting production and delivery schedules. The toy industry, in particular, has seen a considerable reduction in new products arriving in time for the busy holiday season.

While new supply might be limited, many eCommerce toy sellers are simultaneously carrying excess inventory, given that spring celebrations and associated gift-giving occasions were largely canceled.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to excite customers about existing products and sell your inventory. Here are eight tips to help you sell those extra toys.

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Lean into nostalgia

A wave of nostalgia has enveloped consumers as they gravitate to items that remind them of simpler times. For example, many shoppers retreated to comfort food, which created a notable surge in familiar supermarket brands. That’s a strategy eCommerce toy sellers can replicate.

Even if your holiday inventory isn’t stocked with true vintage items (say, sets from the ’80s), you can still creatively position a wide variety of current toys as old favorites, reminding customers of the joy they brought when shoppers themselves were kids.

For example, while you might not have a classic board game, you might have a video game adaptation. And while LEGO® sets, Barbie® accessories, and Hot Wheels® cars might have gotten a makeover over the years, they still spark similar imaginary play.

Focus on useful items for socially distant times

Puzzles, books, art sets, and board games might have almost been afterthoughts in previous years, but shoppers can’t get enough of them now.

If you have excess inventory that can be used while staying home, create a special page for shopping ease. Then, update and optimize the copy and product descriptions so they appear in search engines. For example, you could add phrases like “fun games to play at home,” or “best indoor games for kids.”

In the past, many holiday shoppers opted for experience gifts, like museum memberships or tickets to a play, over physical items as gifts. As social distancing protocols continue, consumers are likely to once again favor more traditional gifts like toys, especially more involved toys that can keep kids occupied (a point you can subtly make as you advertise your offerings).

Put marketing muscle behind potentially rare or buzzy items

The collectible market is proof that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Take a look at Craigslist or eBay and see which toys seem to be selling at a premium. Then go through your inventory to determine whether there are any hard-to-find items that still might be generating major buzz , like last year’s hot L.O.L. Surprise! toys™, Hatchimals™, or Funko figures. Even sports trading cards, which had dropped in popularity, have seen a resurgence.

Many people regard these as potentially serious investments and buy packs hoping for that lucky card, while others might be more interested in starting a collection with more time on their hands.

Be careful not to exaggerate these items’ potential value in your marketing, but do what you can to capitalize on a craze.

Spruce up your item pages

First impressions count. In the same way a real estate agent stages a home with fresh furnishings, any merchandise looks better when it’s styled correctly.

Take a close look at your product images and item descriptions to identify possible improvements. Or make it easier for a casual shopper to make a selection by grouping items into holiday gift guides built around certain ages or price points.

You can also attract interest with product video content, such as “unboxing” videos, where customers film themselves excitedly opening the package or playing with the toy to show exactly how it can be used.

Create product bundles — or unbundle

Grouping complementary products (one hot/one not) and pricing them slightly lower when sold together can help move your less-popular products without taking a total loss.

So if your puzzles are flying off the shelves and your stuffed animals are still sitting there, see if you can pair them up as a set. You also could do a buy one/get one holiday promotion where you throw in a lower-priced item as a gift with purchase to make a lackluster product a little more attractive.

And if you have items that are already in a bundle, like a book and action figure, consider selling them separately. Together the price might have looked too steep, but separating them and lowering their prices could help you move both.

Introduce a charitable component

If you have some items that you just can’t sell, consider donating them to a local organization to spread some holiday cheer. Make sure you follow all applicable IRS rules regarding how much you can deduct.

To get even more for your donation, consider tying it into a social media marketing campaign. Post photos of your socially distant team wrapping and delivering gifts to a local hospital, shelter, or donation site, and challenge your customers to do the same.

Up your marketing and promotions

No matter the strategy, now is the time to communicate consistently with your customers through email newsletters and your social media channels. Post engaging content, like:

  • Behind-the-scenes videos showing you or your staff getting toys ready to ship or demonstrating how to set up and use a specific product
  • Product rankings compiled by bloggers or websites (if applicable) that show where these items rank on hot gift lists
  • Digital holiday gift guides incorporating a wide range of price points
  • Creative promotions, like special theme days where stuffed animals or books are 10% off
  • User-generated content, like a vintage photo of a customer or employee with a favorite holiday gift

The goal is to keep your social media pages full with a variety of content and posts — some about your products, some educational, and some just plain fun.

Price judiciously

Finally, think carefully about your discounting tactics. While it might be tempting to slash prices across the board to get rid of items and recoup some of your costs, consider reducing prices selectively.

Incite that feeling of scarcity and boost sales for lingering items by labeling categories “limited inventory,” or “only xx left,” noting that something will soon be “gone forever.” Adding flags next to your pricing calls attention and drives interest.

While this holiday season might be challenging, selling toys shouldn’t be. Promote your merchandise creatively, and your customers are bound to follow suit.