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Slow-moving and dead stock can be a killer for wholesalers and distributors. It takes up precious warehouse space, increases storage costs, generates stock fees and racks up credit charges. They are sunk costs which affect cash flow by freezing income that could be invested in better-selling products. These items should not be left to stagnate; on the contrary, they need to be kept at the forefront of a company’s sales efforts.

Avoid dead stock in the first place

Dead stock is defined as product that has had zero sales in the last 12 months, while slow-moving items have had at least some customer demand over the previous year. Whatever the reason – you may be stuck with a huge amount of a color or style that never caught on, or small quantities of “left overs” or items that have low inventory levels − wholesalers typically end up selling this merchandise to liquidators.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of unloading these items on a liquidator, wholesalers can make a lot more money by selling them themselves with minimum effort using the same strategies as retailers have for decades: bundling and cross-selling. Although they can’t be expected to recoup full cost, these techniques can yield hard cash.

The first step is to recognize when an item is slow-moving and take action before it turns into dead stock.  There are sales tools on the market today that make this easy to do.

Keep it warm: Bundle it up

To move a slow-moving product, pair it with a complementary, good-selling product − otherwise known as bundling or kitting. Give the new package an attractive price and push the deal out to your sales reps’ tablets.

For example, if a clothing distributor has a large quantity of scarves or ties they want to liquidate, they can be paired with popular blouses or shirts and sold as a package. Another type of bundling involves selling multiple units for the price of a lesser quantity, such as two items for the price of one (BOGO). Large quantities can be bundled by volume, e.g. “Buy 5, get one free”; or the “baker’s dozen” (13 for the price of 12).

Breathe new life into it by cross-selling

Cross-selling can be just as easy for wholesalers and distributors:  You offer a related item that correlates or complements an item the customer is interested in buying, or has bought previously. For instance: buy a certain amount of an item (that you want to get rid of), and get a different item (one that the client already wants) for free. It’s the wholesaler’s version of “Would you like fries with that?”

Automating the process

There is nothing new in the concept of either bundling or cross-selling. Both have been around for a long time and have been used by wholesalers to move dead inventory. But technology is just catching up, with the advent of dedicated sales rep apps for distributors and wholesalers that use these time-tested techniques to cash in on stagnant inventory. A select few, for example, offer features such as:

  • Fixed Package Bonus: buy a prefixed package of items to get bonus items
  • Sum Total Package Bonus: minimum purchase is required to get bonus items
  • Ordering by prepacks and assortments, setting pre-defined variants
  • ERP integration showing up-to-date stock levels

Case in point: Within two days of implementing SupeRep™ sales rep app, a customer of WRNTY, a distributor in the gift industry unloaded a large stock of mugs that had been in storage for  more than a year by bundling them, providing immediate positive ROI.

Four ways to keep clear of dead stock

You can avoid dead stock − and even resuscitate it − by:

  1. Giving your sales team data about dead and slow-moving stock and quantities
  2. Moving these products to the front of the sales process
  3. Bundling it with best-selling items
  4. Motivating sales reps to sell dead stock

You'll need a high-caliber app to do this. A good app will equip your sales team with great e-catalog display, easy and fast order taking process, and integrate to your CRM/ERP to allow reps to manage and update all the data they need in the field about their customers.

By selling smart, wholesalers and distributors can avoid the pitfalls of dead stock and increase their bottom line while doing it.


Ofer Kfir Loves to talk about technology & tools for sales people. Evangelist at WRNTY and the #1 user of SupeRep™!  Father, a professional skier and traveler.

About The Author

Stacey Woods
Stacey Woods
Stacey Woods is the Senior Business Development Manager at Pepperi. She has extensive experience in B2B sales and understands the many benefits that can be gained by automating and syncing the different sales channels in a company.