Dealing with “Death Piles” and Excess Inventory
Chances are you are uncomfortably familiar with the "Death Pile" of inventory in the back of your store—but don't let it get you down! It can be a massively valuable resource.
Chances are if you are a consignment seller or reseller, you have an abundance of inventory that plagues you! This excess inventory and items awaiting processing are commonly referred to as "Death Piles". "Death Piles" can be debilitating, frustrating, and mentally taxing! You are not alone, check out Consignment Chats Reseller Round Tables (Episode 71 and Episode 89) to hear how others in the reselling community are dealing with excess inventory! The good news is that with a little reframing, that "Death Pile" can turn into a "Money Mountain."
The phone is ringing, the emails are coming in . . . the inventory is piling up. Some opportunities are too good to pass up. We recently had an opportunity to process a few estates, but that meant taking a lot of inventory at once or losing the deals. We chose to take the estates and not miss out on these amazing consignments. The resulting inventory backlog quickly became overwhelming! We were frustrated and started drudging through our "death pile". However, we quickly realized that it was not a "death pile" at all but an amazing "Money Mountain" that was going to provide our income for the next few months!
This simple mindset shift from "Death Pile" to "Money Mountain" was just the motivation we needed to get things under control, and here is how we did it. Check out Consignment Chats video on Hiking Your Money Mountain to see real footage of our "Money Mountains".
In just a few simple steps you can successfully hike that "Money Mountain" of inventory:
Take account of your inventory backlog
Sorting into piles or bins (donate, dispose, sell)
Process you items
Find a Mastermind or Accountability Group
Take Account of Your Money Mountain
First step is to take a real, hard look at what your inventory backlog looks like. Take a before photo so you can look back and see where you started and celebrate how far you have come. Don't underestimate the power of a before photo, there are many reasons to stop and take one. We know it can be daunting . . . but here is an article by Filtergrade to back us up on The Importance of Before and After Photos!
Sort It Into Piles
Once you have surveyed your inventory backlog, it is time to sort your items into broad groupings. You can use a bin, bag, or pile system. Whatever works for your space. Every item in the "Money Mountain" will be sorted into one of three groups:
If you find yourself spending more than a few seconds debating an item, put it in the donate pile. There is a reason you are debating. Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his book, Blink, about trusting your instinct and the power of quick decision making. For a summary of this concept check out Dan Silvestre's blog post: Lessons from Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.
Your goal is to hike up the "Money Mountain" in the most efficient way possible. Do not put anything aside to process later. Force yourself to decide in the moment, time is money and you don't want to touch that item again unless you are selling it!
Once the sorting is complete, take the donate and dispose/recycle bins and get them out of your space. It may seem obvious, but donate and dispose/recycle before moving to the next step.
If you have multiple consignors you need to keep separate while sorting, consider using bags or bins per consignor to split up your sell pile. Another option would be to have tags for each consignor if you don't have the room for bags or bins.
Now you are ready to process the items you will sell. Your "Money Mountain" should consist of only the items you will be selling. Stop and take another photo!
You have all of the items that you would like to sell gathered together. If your items are not all "customer ready", do a quick sort that may look like this:
Ready to process
Take your ready to process pile and batch by similar items (for example, all pants, all vases, all kitchen items). Maggie Weber writes a great description of why and how to batch on the ListPerfectly blog --- read Coping with your Money Pile.
Take one batch of similar items and process. Start with the batch of items that is quickest and easiest to process. This will help you build momentum and confidence in your hiking ability! As you repeat the process, just choose one batch at a time. We know it will be tempting to intermix and jump ahead, but stay strock and stick to the plan!
Processing looks different for every business. For brick and mortar stores, it means getting your items out on the floor. For online sellers, it means photographing and listing. For tips and tricks on processing, check out Consignment Chats video about listing.
Consistent processing of small batches will build momentum. Stop and celebrate your progress with each batch you complete before moving onto the next one. Celebrating even small progress is motivating, and typically leads to the completion of much larger goals. The research is there! An article in the Harvard Business Review by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer describes why The Power of Small Wins is so key!
So celebrate your win, and move on to the next small batch. Take a photo. Repeat!
Struggling to stay on track and hike up the "Money Mountain?" Finding an accountability group or partner can be just the help you need. There are copious amounts of research indicating that being accountable to someone (other than yourself) greatly increases your odds of success. This Forbes article by Rhett Power talks about the power of an accountability group, Accountability Groups: The Support You Need To Succeed In 2023.
Finding a partner or group that can relate and motivate can make all the difference. Look online or at a local business meetup to find a group that will work for you and with you. We started the Consignment Chats Community on Facebook and Patreon specifically for this reason! It may or may not be the right fit for you, but increase your odds of hiking that "Money Mountain" by finding your people.
There is no need to be plagued by a "Death Pile" when you can hike up a "Money Mountain." Reframing and renaming can be your first step on that hike. Take stock of what you have, sort it, and then process it! Take photos along the way and celebrate the small wins. Find the encouragement and support of a partner or group. Check out Episode 70 of Consignment Chats and remember there is no need to hike alone.
Guest post by Consignment Chats --- check out their Facebook group, Podcast, and other resources!