The pandemic escalated the need to go online for most businesses. Many hadn’t yet built out a true digital strategy before the events of 2020 (kinda wild to think about, right?!). eCommerce sales grew more than 30% that year compared to 2019. To say the least, years of growth in the eCommerce industry were accomplished in one single year.
Beyond getting more businesses online, the pandemic gave rise to categories focused on home, self-care, and appliances. Remember the Peloton craze, the birth of #FurnitureTok, and how everyone suddenly started making bread from scratch?
But as many merchants are becoming aware, the economy is shifting again. Spending priorities are changing. People are out. Travel plans are booked. The “lockdown lifestyle” is over. Not to mention, the holidays are quickly approaching.
Trend forecasters are having a trickier time predicting consumers’ spending and behavior because we’ve never seen events like that of the last 3 years. At least not in the digital age. As a result, we are seeing interesting shopping patterns and a movement toward new, innovative strategies, especially as we look towards this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For retailers planning out their 2022 Holiday buys, one of the top-of-mind concerns is how to properly match consumer demand given all the factors mentioned above.
As a result, we are seeing interesting shopping patterns and a movement toward new, innovative strategies.
How Shopping Behavior Is Changing (again)
The categories that grew during the pandemic are now largely returning to pre-pandemic demand, leaving much of the market with an inventory glut. Due to the resurgence of the experience economy, big-box retailers like Target, are sitting on lots of products within the homeware and appliance categories. Walmart stated that it could take them around “two quarters to work through the inventory surge.” Retailers, across the board, currently have about $45 billion in inventory to sell - many of which are aiming to move before the holiday season.
Not only does this create a necessity for moving inventory without losing too much revenue, but it also begs the question: is there a better, lower-risk way for eCommerce brands to add to their product catalogs?
The Resurgence of the Experience Economy
Consumer spending has shifted away from goods and toward services. Although spending on services is still 4.7% less than pre-pandemic levels, forecasters are predicting services and experiences to quickly surpass the growth rate of goods. After all, you can only buy so many treadmills and sofas. Brands are beginning to pivot their strategies towards consumables, subscriptions, and services to maintain the growth rates seen in the prior year. Though that accounts for longer-term success, these same brands are also dealing with massive inventory on their hands right now.
Where Does This Leave Retailers?
There are a few common ways for retailers to move excess inventory. The most popular are markdowns and liquidation. Obviously, these are not ideal scenarios for the bottom line. But, as sell-through rates are plummeting, it’s important for retailers to make way for newer, and more relevant merchandise in order to keep customers engaged.
Popularly done through routine markdowns or events like “semi-annual sales,” markdowns are one of the most common ways retailers move product. We’re even seeing luxury retailers, who haven’t held sales in the past, begin to participate in sale strategies. Though luxury retailers are opting more for 3rd party partnerships (with concepts like The Real Real), experts are saying that “never before have we seen as much discounting with as much merchandise with high percents off.”
Most commonly, liquidation is the act of selling returned or excess inventory to 3rd party retailers who will sell the merchandise to consumers at a highly discounted price. Moving old inventory to make room for new is often an essential step for retailers to welcome in new full-price revenue.
Since new merchandise drives business for most retailers, taking a loss on older inventory can be worthwhile. However, the inventory glut problem is becoming so big that some retailers are selling their inventory to liquidators before it has even had a chance to hit their shelves. The merchandise didn’t even have the opportunity to sell-through at full price, which can be a massive loss for retailers - especially those operating with lower margins.
Reducing Inventory At Full Price With Cross-Store Selling
Out of the pandemic were born new behaviors, which means that post-pandemic, new strategies are being adopted to adjust to ever-evolving consumer needs.
Cross-Store selling is being adopted by key players in the Shopify ecosystem as a solution to move product at full price – especially for brands looking to enter the holiday season with a clean inventory slate.
What is Cross-Store selling?
Cross-Store Selling enables brands to sell each other’s products without the need for inventory, managing returns, or minimum order quantities. Businesses on the Carro platform can sell their products on other leading Shopify storefronts or source new products to sell from other leading brands’ product catalogs.
Why Cross-Store selling is different from traditional BFCM inventory reduction methods:
With a Cross-Store selling platform like Carro, merchants can find like-minded brands through the apps’ Network. There, they can request to sell their products on a retailer's site. In just a few clicks, a brand could have its highest-inventory styles added to another top retailer's site. Not only will the brand be able to move through their inventory faster, but they’ll be able to retain the info of the customer who purchased from their retailing partner's site. For the customer, the products appear just as any other product would. The only difference is that the supplying brand ships out the product to the customer.
Learn more about Cross-Store selling with Carro and how to get started as a supplier.
Creative Ways Carro Merchants Are Moving Inventory With Cross-Store Selling
#1️ Product Bundling
A large part of the Carro magic is smart product and brand pairings. What better way to move inventory than to pair your products with that of a like-minded brand through a bundle?
Bundles are helpful in moving multiple slower SKUs without heavy discounting. Plus, you get the added benefit of brand partner co-marketing initiatives. The cherry on top? When a customer purchases one of your products on your brand partner’s site, you receive the customer data as well.
For example, Vanity Planet partnered with 100% Pure to create the perfect skincare and skin tool bundle. This is a win-win because both brands get the sale, move inventory, and win the customer data.
#2️ Cart Upsell
With the Carro Cart Upsell feature, you can gain access to new customers right at your brand partners' check-outs! Carro algorithmically suggests your products to other top Shopify brands’ customers (at checkout) based on their past purchases, current cart, and other key demographic and psychographic factors.
Just like EBOOST, you can offer hyper-complementary products at checkout to increase AOV, gain new customers, and bring in more revenue.
Overall, we’re seeing a massive shift in the market calling for better inventory and merchandise planning. Additionally, brands are seeing it equally as important to future-proof their business with creative low-risk strategies like Cross-Store selling. Making a bet on physical inventory after the past 3 years (and the unknown of the upcoming years) can be daunting.
Ready to learn more about Virtual Inventory and how your brand can implement that alongside Cross-Store selling?
Future proof your business & all BFCM seasons to come.