When brick-and-mortar businesses have a surplus of inventory, they have a few options. Hosting a sale with a temporary discount on the overstocked items isn’t effective without a promotional platform, but email blasts don’t work for businesses with very small subscriber lists and direct mail typically costs more upfront than most SMBs are able to spend. For local merchants, deal-posting sites that use hyperlocal technology to target nearby consumers in real-time are becoming a popular solution.
Although the weaknesses of daily deal sites have been well documented, these types of platforms are still effective in certain situations, like when a merchant is looking to quickly unload a surplus of inventory—whether that’s because the produce will spoil, the garment will go out of style, or there’s just not enough room in the backroom for storage.
Here are five examples of platforms that small businesses can use to unload overstocked items.
1. DealTapp: Quickly post deals that expire in minutes
DealTapp offers a way for restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues to quickly post deals that customers can redeem on their smartphones. Businesses take pictures of the items they wish to discount—for example, a pizza or a specialty cocktail—type a description of the deal, and then post on the DealTapp network. Deals can be setup to expire in minutes, days, or months. Customers can “claim” the offers and cash them in on their next visits. If there’s a price to pay, customers pay via tokens purchased in the app. DealTapp is currently available in Seattle, however it may expand to other areas in the future. DealTapp doesn’t charge fees or commissions.
2. Facebook Offers: Limited-time offers meant to be shared
Even if a merchant doesn’t have a substantial following on social media, Facebook’s offers can be an effective way to get people talking about limited-time deals. Merchants in any vertical can create offers from their Facebook pages. Offers can be setup to be redeemed in-store, online, or both, and they can be created with “claims limits” based on the amount of overstock the business has available. When customers claim merchants’ offers, Facebook can share that information with their friends as a story in their news feeds, which expands merchants’ networks and gets more people talking about the discounts being promoted. Businesses can create offers for free.
3. Groupon: Professional marketing with no upfront costs
In its heyday, Groupon was the go-to platform for limited-time deals. While its size and influence have shrunk, Groupon is still a viable solution for businesses looking to promote certain items to a wide group of potential customers. The company says it has 50 million active customers and 80% of its campaigns are immediately profitable. Merchants can use Groupon’s Deal Builder or work with experienced sales reps to create the types of offers that customers are likely to respond to. Merchants are provided with optional marketing tools like online booking services, as well. Deals are promoted through Groupon’s local media channels, including social, mobile, and email. Merchants typically pay Groupon a percentage of each coupon purchased through the site.
4. Salereporter: Streamlined coupon distribution
Whether a business has too many empty tables or too much unused produce, a surplus of inventory can make financial viability all but impossible. Salereporter is a real-time deal platform that saves merchants money by eliminating the need for coupons to be printed or distributed by mail. It takes advantage of foot traffic by automatically notifying users of the Salereporter mobile app when they’re nearby a merchant with a limited-time deal. The app sends notifications based on consumers’ real-time locations, so for example, a shopper receives an alert if she walks by a store that’s offers 50%-off sweaters for the next 60 minutes. Cashiers scan a QR code, and the discount is taken at the register.
5. LivingSocial: Reaching high-quality clientele via mobile channels
Another survivor of the daily deal boom, LivingSocial has shifted its focus in recent years. The company helps local merchants reach “high-quality clientele” through a variety of advertising solutions. Merchants wanting to unload a particular item can work with a “sales specialist” to come up with the details of their offers. In addition to generating distinct marketing copy, LivingSocial’s team will also build a promotional page and the company will train a merchant’s staff on how to prepare for the new influx of business. Promotions are showcased on LivingSocial’s channels, and merchants pay based on the number of vouchers purchased through the platform.
Know of other platforms that SMBs can use to quickly unload overstocked items? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.