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In the past, retailers with unsold stock would likely put that stock up in the end of season sale, discounted until it is sold. Today, their options for selling off excess stock can be more imaginative.

Many retailers today set up flash sales sites or clearance type events, but another option, with a lot of potential, is to sell cross-border.

Always summer somewhere

Today, British shoppers find it almost as straightforward to buy from a retailer in Australia as from one in the UK – as long as that retailer enables delivery, payment in sterling and low customs duties. The same is true when travelling in the other direction.

Online retailer MySale, for instance, built its flash sales business by selling against the season’s surplus or end-of-season stock from European and American fashion brands into the Australian market.

This strategy not only allows for more full-price and profitable sales, rather than selling goods at cost or even at a loss, but also offers an export opportunity to reach a far wider audience.

Nonetheless, there are challenges that need to be dealt with, including making the right buying decisions.

End-of-season items from the UK will not always be on trend down under, for example. Unless brands are buying for that kind of dual season approach, by the end of the season they may end up having to mark-down the inventories in both regions.

Another key challenge lies in localising the customer experience and logistics.

Most international retailers, ASOS for example, now sell through country-specific websites, which include local language, currency and payment options, as well as free worldwide delivery (above a certain spending threshold), supported by warehouses in different continents. However, the key is to localise strategic elements, which doesn’t necessarily need to involve raising individual web shops for each market, but to use new solutions that overlay on the main site.

The use of the latest technology and establishment of smart partnerships offers retailers a huge potential growth opportunity for stock management, with a relatively low upfront investment.


Georges Berzgal
Vice president for Europe at Pitney Bowes Ecommerce

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