Outlet Beta release: a new alternative to manage overstocked inventory
Brands with overstocked products are looking for new ways to think about closing out that end-of-lifecycle product. The typical liquidation solution comes with a lot of pitfalls. An outlet on ExpertVoice provides brands with a better option.
Brand outlets hosted on ExpertVoice address inventory challenges inside a gated channel
Yes, you read that right, the beta launch of brand outlet stores is now available on ExpertVoice. You might be thinking, “What? Why would I host an outlet store on ExpertVoice?”
Hear me out – in countless conversations with brands we’ve heard that overstocked inventory continues to be a problem. Additionally, reports from retailers state their inventory backlog is not going away anytime soon. The launch of Flash Deals earlier this year showed us that brands can quickly sell hundreds of units in a short period of time without impacting their priority programs on ExpertVoice. A brand outlet store on ExpertVoice builds on these learnings and provides an always-available destination to rotate through and sell clearance inventory – in a gated platform to a wide audience.
An alternative to liquidation wholesalers, a Brand Outlet store on ExpertVoice allows brands to protect their reputation, sell clearance inventory at a better margin and continue gathering customer insights from outlet purchases. Or, as David Russo (VP of E-Commerce at ExpertVoice) likes to say, “It puts brands in the driver’s seat to move liquidation and overstocked inventory.”
In anticipation of this launch, I recently sat down with David to learn from his years of experience in the brand space and dig into why he’s excited about this new offering. Read more on our conversation below to learn:
- How an outlet can complement your existing brand strategy on ExpertVoice
- The challenges posed by inventory liquidation and wholesale solutions
- The benefits of an outlet on ExpertVoice
- How experts will learn about and interact with Brand Outlets on ExpertVoice
Q&A with David Russo, Vice President of E-commerce at ExpertVoice:
David, I know you came to ExpertVoice with a wealth of experience in the e-commerce and retail space, can you share a bit more about your background?
I’ve spent the last 15 years of my career working in the outdoor industry for retailers like Eddie Bauer and Outdoor Gear Exchange, and most recently leading the sales and marketing teams for MAMMUT North America – and part of that role was managing our brand strategy on ExpertVoice. I’m really excited to take all the expertise I have in understanding the issues that brands face today and to think about how we can support them at ExpertVoice.
We are so excited to have you as part of the team! Let’s jump right in, why add an outlet to the offerings available on ExpertVoice?
We understand that a lot of brands today are facing issues with overstocked products and looking for new ways to think about closing out that end-of-lifecycle product. I think the typical offering that’s out there today comes with a lot of pitfalls. Whether that’s a lack of control over pricing, a lack of control over who you’re selling it to or how your brand is advertised. And when you see that huge percentage off advertised in the market, it can degrade the brand image. We’re really excited to offer brands a better solution.
I think back to my time at MAMMUT and a common problem I faced was having too much product left at the end of the season. There’d be this huge sense of urgency coming from the finance team who’s worried about this product hitting the bottom line and being an expense. The Warehouse team starts getting really nervous about how much product is piling up. There’s new product coming in and everyone is looking to the sales team to move that product. The number one option that you end up going to most often is the easiest one – you’re in a stressed-out state, so you call up the big wholesale liquidators. You get one bulk deal. It all leaves at once and you feel like you’ve done a great job. But the margin on those deals is so low that oftentimes we were actually losing money by liquidating it in that channel.
When I started to think about how ExpertVoice could help brands, it felt like the most important thing with the outlet was to offer an alternative with better margins than what brands could find at these wholesale liquidators. On top of that, when you think about your brand out in the market, when you go to a traditional liquidator, you’re really handing off what the brand looks like in the market. You have no say over how it’s advertised; how your brand is represented. Oftentimes, when you Google your brand, you’re gonna see those liquidators pop up as the first search result with a high discount alongside your brand name. Every brand leader is striving to protect the brand at all costs. Hosting an outlet on ExpertVoice is a really clean and gated channel that’s not advertised to the public and really protects that brand image.
That makes a lot of sense. Do you think brands should be concerned about an outlet detracting from their primary goal of building awareness and driving recommendations for products that are currently in the market?
When I think about balancing a regular program that a brand is successful with today on ExpertVoice with what the outlet should provide, I’m really thinking about the product lifecycle. As you noted, the programs most brands are running today are really focused on their best product, their latest and greatest, and really driving people to test, use and recommend that product – and reaching the people who are most influential in the consumer buying decision. When it comes to the outlet, it’s really about the end of the product lifecycle. How do we start to move that product out of our inventory and our warehouses? When you think about how the outlet strategy works, it’s really about reaching new experts that you weren’t talking to before – the broader audience on the platform of 850k+ members. They might be price-conscious experts who are just looking for a great deal and you have an opportunity to reach them with a product that might be a season old, or a color that you are moving away from. The outlet is an entirely different strategy from your standard program that helps you reach a new audience while solving your overstock problem. Plus, unlike using a liquidator, the brand can gather and learn insights from these new customers.
Got it – I can imagine there would be some pretty excited experts to discover they can access outlet-priced goods on ExpertVoice from brands they might not normally have access to (or even know existed). What will that experience look like for the expert? How will they discover if a brand hosts an outlet?
For experts to interact with the new outlet offering, they’ll have a few different ways to find the outlet products. They will see a new filter to help them quickly identify outlet items as they search for products. When browsing on the site, a nice flag is visible on the products that are part of an outlet store. And when an expert lands on a brand’s page, they’ll see the outlet store – even if an expert doesn’t have access to the brand’s full program, it will be very easy for them to find the outlet store called out on the brand page.
That sounds pretty intuitive – and I love the idea that an expert might not hit a dead end when they land on a brand where they don’t qualify for their exclusive program – they could still have access to shop the outlet. If I’m a brand considering an outlet store, is there anything I should keep in mind?
For sure – first and foremost, for an outlet to be successful moving inventory, it has to have broad reach and appeal. The product should be offered in a variety of sizes, colors, flavors, etc. Think about goods that are exciting to just about everyone regardless of what activity or industry they’re interested in. And brands should also know, we are in the beta phase of this program, so the initial outlet offering will be restricted to brands with a hosted store…. And if you are a brand that anticipates high demand, I’d strongly encourage that you have automated order processing so you aren’t processing all those orders manually! Other than that, all the same features of commerce on ExpertVoice apply – you set the discount (it should be below any offer available in the market), and you determine order rules and limits. AND – remember that experts can still leave reviews on the platform, so you can keep sharing those with retailers to encourage sell-through out in the market.
Sold! How does a brand get started?
Just reach out to your account executive and they’ll be happy to help you learn more. I should also note that there is no additional cost to add an outlet to a brand’s program, so once you determine if it’s the right fit, just gather your store file and follow the standard store build process.
Last question – we’ve covered a lot of ground – give me the cliff notes and describe the outlet in 30 seconds.
Brand outlets on ExpertVoice are a new, exciting offering to put brands in the driver’s seat, to be able to move liquidation and overstocked inventory at a better margin – in a protected environment and to an audience of experts that’s really excited to recommend and use their product.
Bam! Thanks David, excited to keep helping brands solve problems – and keep adding value to the entire expert audience on ExpertVoice!
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