Brands generally view slow-moving and excess inventory as an afterthought. This subset of unplanned inventory steers sales leaders away from focusing on their core business, and the inability to distinguish, predict, and quickly move inventory has historically led to poor profit margins. As a result, many sales teams feel that it’s simply not worth it to spend too much time managing and selling underperforming inventory. While existing processes for locating, selling, and shipping inventory are inefficient, they are also avoidable. Below are three ways sales leaders can improve their existing go-to-market processes to maximize recovery.
1. Increase Your Visibility
Supply chain visibility is a large pain point for many brands. Key information and data are rarely centralized, and when located, the data set is often incomplete. Supply chains worldwide have become increasingly complex, and as a result brands have even more difficulty in locating and identifying excess inventory. Equipping your team with the ability to distinguish this inventory is the first step in being able to effectively move it. After determining what is excess, the focus lies on understanding where this inventory sits and having immediate access to a real-time count of each product. The supply chain then follows the order until fulfillment, through shipment and delivery with the customer.
Lacking visibility at any stage of this cycle will have a negative effect on a company’s go-to-market speed. Evaluate your existing systems to determine where gaps exist with regard to inventory visibility:
- Are you able to identify excess inventory early enough in the product life cycle?
- Is it easy to locate where this inventory currently sits in the supply chain?
- Does your team have direct access to complete, accurate, and real-time quantities?
If the answer is “no” or even “maybe” to any of these questions, your team may not be equipped with the visibility they need to effectively go-to-market and achieve higher sales volume and greater margins. If your existing systems aren’t cutting it, consider investing in new technology to centralize data and improve your team’s inventory visibility across the supply chain.
2. Automate the Steps in Your Go-To-Market Approach
Manual tasks revolving around spreadsheets, emails, and phone calls are painstaking and prone to human error. As a result, the most successful brands have implemented as much automation as possible to ensure their go-to-market process is standardized and predictable. Developing a standardardized process can help eliminate the risk of profit loss and over-selling (the latter being the main culprit for delays in order fulfillment and prolonged sales cycles). Brands with a predetermined cycle experience quicker offer creation and shorter transaction times, allowing them to go-to-market more frequently.
As you may already know, buyers are very busy and strongly value efficiency, accuracy, and predictability when negotiating on product assortments with your sales team. While you may have had an existing process that worked well with your buyers in the past, there is undoubtedly significant room for improvement:
Does your team still rely on spreadsheets to share inventory assortments with several buyers at once?
If so, inventory availability may not be updated in real-time as buyers commit, and you greatly run the risk of overselling and harming your buyer relationships.
Does your team struggle with curating relevant product assortments for their buyers?
Do they experience challenges with calculating optimal pricing in an efficient manner?
Or do they have difficulty gathering complete, accurate inventory data?
In all of these cases, evaluate whether your team is getting caught in tedious, manual workflows that negatively affect speed and accuracy. There may be an opportunity to automate these steps, and having a solution like INTURN 360 to drive your negotiation will streamline the end-to-end process, improve buyer confidence, and help your team increase sell-through.
3. Leverage Historical Data, Insights, and AI
Brands also frequently lack historical data and insights to drive their go-to-market strategy. Sales teams are under tremendous pressure to get inventory out the door due to fluctuating inventory levels and rapidly changing expiration dates, yet it becomes difficult to make strategic decisions when key data lives across disparate systems. Due to frantic selling of excess inventory, brands are often left with little to no record of previous sales which can be critical in curating future product assortments. In a competitive market where nearly every organization is upgrading their systems to become more data-driven, historical data and insights have become table-stakes in improving profit margin, accelerating speed-to-market, and reducing operating cost.
The implementation of machine learning and AI in particular has helped brands become more data-driven across the supply chain by providing greater visibility into forecasting, inventory levels, and consumer trends. The ability to identify underperforming inventory earlier in the product life cycle empowers supply chain and sales teams to be more proactive in determining which products should be deemed as excess, when the products should be moved, and how to approach the negotiation process. Although unplanned inventory will always be a reality due to uncontrollable factors, brands should consider investing in AI technology to proactively capture a more accurate read on inventory levels and maximize their go-to-market strategy.
Managing and selling unplanned inventory continues to be a major pain point for sales teams, and these challenges will only continue to grow amid ongoing supply chain disruptions. Determine how to make improvements in your go-to-market strategy by evaluating how existing processes and systems are currently working for your team in the areas described above.
Need a better solution for managing and selling unplanned inventory? Brands worldwide are selecting INTURN 360 as their solution of choice to gain supply chain visibility, automate their workflows, and leverage business insights. Get in touch to learn how you can maximize recovery, streamline workflows, and increase your speed-to-market.