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What is Dead Stock Obsolete Inventory? Square Business Glossary

Obsolete inventory is usually caused either by a lack of consumer demand or because a business purchased too much of a product. Consumer demand may decline because the product is poorly made, irrelevant, untimely, or already saturated in the market. An additional approach for determining whether a part is obsolete is reviewing engineering change orders. These documents show those parts being replaced by different ones, as well as when the changeover is scheduled to take place. You can then search the inventory database to see how many of the parts being replaced are still in stock, which can then be totaled, yielding another variation on the amount of obsolete inventory on hand. Technological advances, changes in customer demand, governmental policy changes, or many other factors can cause obsolete inventory.

Alternatively, getting rid of obsolete inventory will reduce expenses, minimize losses, and improve company cash flow. In order to make any of these review systems work, it is necessary to create policies and procedures as well as ongoing scheduled review dates. By doing so, there is a strong likelihood that obsolescence reviews will become a regular part of a company’s activities.

Obsolete inventory is also referred to as dead inventory or excess inventory. For example, if your company produces clothing for teens, you must keep up with the trends to remain competitive. If your warehouse consists of items that are no longer in fashion, it could quickly become stale inventory. This can render a product obsolete as newer products offer more features or better performance at a lower cost. The world is always changing, and other companies are coming out with newer, better versions of the same product. Your products will eventually become obsolete and no longer have a consumer base.

  • While you can always try to recoup some of your obsolete inventory costs, it’s still a losing proposition.
  • Rather, purchasing decisions and market conditions are what typically, inadvertently causes goods to become obsolete.
  • By implementing an inventory tracking system, you can get a closer look at inventory days on hand, sales, and buying trends.
  • Since obsolete inventory is no longer sellable, it’s no longer considered an asset since it can’t be sold.
  • While small businesses could hold onto these items until the season rolls around again, doing so can be costly and limits cash flow.

This inventory has not been sold or used for a long period of time and is not expected to be sold in the future. This type of inventory has to be written-down or written-off and can cause large losses for a company. Obsolete inventory must be written off as an expense at the end of the fiscal year, but business owners should see this as a last resort.

Reasons to get rid of obsolete inventory

Obsolete inventory is also known as excess inventory or dead inventory. Alternatively, you can try product bundling obsolete items with a fast-selling item (and even offer free shipping). If the products still have potential, you could also sell them at a discount by running a promotion, such as a flash sale. For young businesses, avoiding obsolete inventory could be a critical step on the path to stronger unit margins. Consumers have increasingly high demands when it comes to product quality.

  • Not only does too much excess inventory cut into profit margins and cash flow, but it can also limit the chances of getting a business loan.
  • Inventory may become obsolete over time, and so must be removed from the inventory records.
  • This type of inventory has to be written-down or written-off and can cause large losses for a company.
  • We treat it as working capital that is tied up with virtually no promise of return on investment.
  • Then, you can minimize profit loss by running a sale, bundling products, or even reaching out to a liquidator while the inventory has some value.
  • Inventory is at the heart of an online business, so it’s important to have access to data that provides insights into how well your supply chain is performing.

Some obsolete inventory will only ever leave your store one way – in the trash. But there are actions you can take to reduce the chances of that, as well as offloading dead stock items. Growing numbers of retailers use the term deadstock to refer to obsolete stock which has become collectable. Sneakers are a great example, where customers are willing to pay a heavy premium to grab a limited edition pair.


Competitors don’t always need to advance the technology to make your product obsolete. A new brand with a better price or better marketing may be enough to disrupt your market. With so many options for consumers, it’s easy for them to shift away from your product, even if it still meets their needs. Offering large discounts is also a good method to get rid of the inventory.

Causes of Excess and Obsolete Inventory

Note that the true write-off occurs only when you dispose of the inventory. If that’s the case, you can avoid over-ordering by buying less inventory more often rather than purchasing inventory for an entire year. As such, they might predict a much higher demand and end up ordering an excess amount of inventory. For most ecommerce business, having enough inventory to meet demand is often a top concern. With Katana’s powerful tools, you can rest assured that your inventory is always optimized for maximum efficiency and profitability. People’s tastes can change quickly, and what was once popular may no longer be in demand.

But to move the product faster and get more cash for it, the company decided to bundle the product with two best-selling wines, a red and a white. The store is able to charge more for the set once they add champagne—and customers continue to purchase the bundle. Best of all, the company is now covering its costs and has avoided a write-off altogether. Real-time access to data across the supply chain is beneficial for real-time inventory management. This gives you the most current information about inventory levels along with other details, such as warehouse receiving and production time lines.

With more visibility, you can find ways to optimize inventory to meet demand and avoid common inventory issues, such as overstocking. At, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services. Would you like to learn more about obsolete inventory and other types of inventory? Oftentimes, technological innovations make products outdated or undesirable, because they don’t offer the latest features or design capabilities. It can be difficult to predict when certain products will become obsolete, but it is crucial to keep track of trends in the industry and be prepared for such a situation.

This inventory remains unsold or un-utilized for a long time with reduced possibility of being sold. Per Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAPP), such inventory is generally written off as a production a financial loss to the company. Dead stock, also known as obsolete inventory or dead inventory, is stock that’s reached the end of its product lifecycle and is unlikely to sell. Carrying this unsellable and obsolete inventory can affect your bottom line, reduce profit margins, tie up cash in stock, and increase warehouse storage and staff costs. For companies selling physical products, there’s a fine balance between holding too much inventory and too little.

Definition of dead stock

Ecommerce merchants can now leverage ShipBob’s WMS (the same one that powers ShipBob’s global fulfillment network) to streamline in-house inventory management and fulfillment. With real-time, location-specific inventory visibility, intelligent cycle counts, and built-in checks and balances, your team can improve inventory accuracy without sacrificing operational efficiency. For instance, conducting a how-to guide for creating a business budget bench accounting regular inventory audits can quickly identify obsolete inventory before it eats away at your profits. From there, you can make a decision on when to run a flash sale or donate items so you’re not overpaying in storage fees. Not only can a lack of visibility cause obsolete inventory to go unseen (and therefore increase carrying costs), you also risk stockouts of your high-demand products.

Below, we’ll look at an obsolete inventory definition, the causes of obsolete inventory, and strategies for managing it. This Iconotech video looks at the cost savings if you switch from pre-printed case inventories to generic case inventories. Put simply; the term refers to items that are either impossible or very difficult to sell. Try using all the advertising platforms, including social media, email marketing and other tools, to market your fresh sales. Ensure you are not shortening your product’s life cycle by not providing a good design, which matters a lot.

Average days to sell inventory:

Once DVD and Blu-Ray players became popular, VHS tapes were no longer in demand. Square Terminal is the card machine for everything from managing items and taking payments to printing receipts and getting paid. Create payment links, buy buttons or QR codes with Square Online Checkout. This means you’ll always know what you’ve got in stock and where it is, even if you stock inventory across multiple locations.

Compare Withdrawals to On Hand Balance

If a particular car model is no longer being produced, the parts that go with it become obsolete and cannot be sold. The company that manufactured these parts will have to write them off, as they are no longer of any use. When the government changes regulations, it is vital to adapt quickly and modify your products to meet the new standards. Compliance is essential, and ignoring new laws could cost your company dearly. Innovative companies can cause internal obsolescence by improving and replacing existing products.

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