After 20 years in the CI business there are many things that my business partner, Allen, and I do really well. (See my top 10 lessons learned here.) But there are also some things that we’re admittedly not so great at. And one of the things that historically trips us up is moving old floor models/demo stock before it becomes too “stale” to sell.
We’ve come to accept the inevitable loss on floor model products as just one of the costs of doing business, knowing that the second we pull something out of the box and put it on display we might as well write it off. Of course, you hope that you’ll be able to sell off enough of the display merchandise to make the loss palatable, but the second it hits the floor, a clock starts ticking, and the longer an item stays on the floor, the tougher it becomes to sell, and the less money you will be able to get for it.
No product category is worse in this regard than video, where there is little margin to begin with, and next year’s model is always right around the corner, often with some new feature or upgrade, and selling at a lower price. Over the years we’ve lost thousands of dollars on video projectors. I can recall two Runco models with original retails prices of more than $15,000 that we finally unloaded for under $1,000…and we were happy to see them go for that price! And there have been many more TVs that we’ve eventually unloaded for hundreds of dollars under cost just to make room for new models.
Usually Black Friday (and the following Cyber Monday) is a non-event for us. In fact, some years we’ve elected to close our showroom rather than weather the storm of people calling or stopping in to see if we’ll match some ridiculous Wal-Mart or Best Buy lightning deal. (Not to mention that some communities in our area don’t allow installations to be performed around the holidays for fear that seeing a work van in their private community might bring blight into the entire celebration.) But this year I decided to take a different approach by embracing the Black Friday electronics buying frenzy.
Let’s face it…this is the one time of year where buying electronics at a deal is on most people’s minds, so why not try to capitalize? So Allen and I went through our entire store, including our stock and storage rooms, and grabbed every item that was no longer current or that had been ordered and not used on a job, and dragged it all out into the showroom and slashed the price to a “let’s just get it out of here” level. I made bright orange SALE markers with brief descriptions and blow-out sales prices, and we spread this sale gear all around our showroom so you can’t walk a few feet in any direction without being confronted with some terrific bargain. Then we put “Holiday Blow Out Sale On Now” on the reader board in front of our store.
The result? We had the most successful Black Friday sale in the history of our company, selling an older flagship receiver, a 4K TV, a 4K projector, and some no-longer-current Sonos Play5s.
More importantly the SALE tags helped us have conversations with people coming into the store and will likely lead to selling not only more gear not only off the floor—the current plan is to leave it out through Christmas—but also new merchandise.
“The new economy” has required businesses to be more creative and to embrace opportunities wherever they might be, and maybe Black Friday can be a way to turn old inventory into new customers.