No Toy Left Behind: 3 Tactics for Selling Less Popular Items Post‑Holiday

Every year, there are hundreds of lists with the hottest gifts: the it toys, latest gadgets and key stocking fillers. But now that we’re in the post-holiday period, what happens with those items that don’t find themselves on the popular lists? 

You still need to move that product, or it’ll eat into long-term budgets because of continual storage space requirements. Plus, now that you’ve identified them, you might want to clear the shelves so you can start fresh with something as we start a new year.

Here are our favorite post-holiday tips for selling those great, if not the most popular, products in your inventory.

Post-Holiday Tip 1: The Deal

The holidays mean lots of shopping and lots of competition. We all know that customers are bargain hunting too. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even those post-holiday sales where stores try to capitalize on people who got cash under the tree or have a few extra bucks after returning unwanted items.

Holiday shopping is all about the deal.

So, you need to search for what deals you can use on those not-so-hot sellers. You can try your hand at comparison shopping to show side-by-side products with competitors and highlight areas where you win, especially if you’re priced lower.

Williams-Sonoma is a popular example of this practice, where it took a struggling bread maker and paired it against one that was $150 more expensive, helping the lower-priced option compete. You’ll also see it in software, where there are multiple options based on service and support.

You create value by focusing on the baseline benefits of the model you want to sell and intentionally make the extras on more expensive products feel like fluff.

Scarcity and limited-time offers can also move items quickly and allow you to be honest. Take just 100 units and discount them at 50% to 75%. Then, you can use your ecommerce software to track these sales and have a valid ticker of both time of the offer and remaining quantity. Visitors to your site may be taken by the hunt for a deal or realize that they’re missing something that makes your products great.

Remember, people buy benefits more than a specific product. So, focus on these to highlight where you win — and don’t forget that some shoppers see savings as a benefit too.

Post-Holiday Tip 2: The Bundle

The rise in loot crates and subscription boxes has reinvigorated the product bundle and that can be great news for your less popular items. Bringing multiple products or SKUs together to form a new product, sometimes called kitting in the ecommerce world, is available to nearly all stores and product lines.

If you’re selling online, the kits can be literal, where everything gets put together with a new packaging and information, or simply put all of your items from an order together in their shipping box. You can combine best sellers with other items to give customers the sense that they’re getting a great deal (while you’re also increasing average order value).

You’ll also see lower shipping costs compared to selling and sending these items individually, as well as generally reduced storage costs. This can add up quickly when you’re getting those post-holiday poor performers off warehouse shelves.

The best kits tend to be those where products complement each other. If you’re willing to let customers “save” a little more, you can reduce the price of your add-ons in the kit. This gives your marketing a terrific opportunity to show just how much a customer will save and benefits from the deal focus mentioned above.

Promoting kits as gifts is also a great way to sell groups of your less popular fare by providing multiple options for someone to enjoy. Now that we’re post-holiday, free gift wrapping is less appealing, but fast shipping can still help get more kits out the door.

Post-Holiday Tip 3: The Foot

Different products will have different purposes. For your less-than-stellar sellers, consider shifting the purchase away from a pure profit motive.

It might be time to have these goods be your loss leaders. Use them to get your foot in the door and prove yourself to customers. It’s a low-risk way to get a purchase from someone and gives you a chance to provide great service and quality.

At their core, loss leaders are products you offer where the price doesn’t generate a profit. You usually make a small loss, especially when factoring in shipping and product storage. However, if you attract someone and this propels them to make an additional purchase, you’ll usually make up for the loss.

You’re getting your foot in the door.

In the ecommerce, loss leaders are very valuable because you generally get customer data that includes an email address or other contact information as well as their name and address. Now, you’ve got built-in ways to market and thank people. It is a broad audience, that’ll give you a lot of flexibility for A/B testing of marketing messages or figuring out what discounts generate the most return sales.

When you think about products that don’t sell so well, add in the context of your entire store. Think about how they may play separate roles in attracting new customers. Or, they could be a freebie that gets past buyers to come back and shop again. You’ve got a lot of avenues to discover.

Never Forget the Pet Rock

For half of 1975, the pet rock was one of the most popular sales items in America. People ultimately bought more than 1.5 million of them. It was a gag gift with a funny booklet, and people loved it. Marketing and product told a great story.

But at the end of the day, it was a rock.

This is one of the best lessons for any ecommerce store, especially when you’ve got something that won’t sell. The thing about people is that we never know what will work or what causes a fad. That means there’s always opportunity.

So, have a little fun, try something new, and remember that even a rock will do for some customers. Happy selling this year and next.

Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment.

Forrester Wave for Cross Channel Campaign Management