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The grocery industry is critical to our nation’s infrastructure. But as people go about their busy lives, they tend to take their favorite grocery store for granted as a plentiful and reliable source of all the food and home staples they need. The truth is that putting up this steadfast front is hard work and a constant balancing act for grocers. It’s all too easy to wind up with loads of unsold goods if you inaccurately forecast purchasing or sales, experience the negative effects of global shortages or supply chain hiccups, or are caught off guard with seasonality. Could selling groceries online be your solution to this age-old problem?
An apparel retailer can choose to keep a clothing item on the rack for as long as it likes. Grocers, on the other hand, don’t have that option with their perishable, dated, or close-to-expiring goods.
In the grocery industry, there are many moving parts that can take your attention off of mounting inventory levels. But that’s not to say you can ignore the issue of slow-moving stock. The warehouse, store space, and buying power that you devote to groceries represents a significant opportunity cost to your business. And when the total value of your inventory slips over time, the ceiling on your profitability lowers. Beyond concern for your bottom line, there are ethical implications to sitting on goods until they’re unusable or perished.
A term sometimes used in the grocery industry, inventory shrinkage, or simply, shrink, refers to the gradual reduction in the value of your total saleable inventory, resulting in a difference between the profits you should have made in a given period and your actual profits. This phenomenon occurs for a number of reasons, and makes it all the more important to make the most of the inventory you keep on hand.
Causes of shrink can broadly be categorized as follows:
Sensing a pattern here? The threat of shrinkage is just an unfortunate feature of the industry. It simply comes with the territory. While you should always be seeking solutions to operational, security, and administrative challenges, a more immediate, realistic way to fight shrink is to counterbalance it on your ledgers rather than seek to eliminate it altogether.
Additionally, shrink and profitability may not be the only thing weighing on your mind. You still have corporate responsibility and public relations to consider.
It’s no secret that the developed world has an issue with food waste. It’s estimated that about 16 billion pounds of food is wasted each year, a sizable chunk of the astonishing 80 billion-pound total, which includes waste from both households and restaurants.
These figures are especially concerning if you understand how dates on food work. When it comes to dry and canned goods, labels such as “use by,” or “freshest by” are based on the manufacturer’s own standards of quality and freshness, not scientific food safety standards. While premium, big-name stores may not be comfortable selling goods with approaching or bygone dates, the reality is that these items are, in most cases, perfectly good for weeks or months to come.
If your business is throwing away even a small amount, you should seek ways to get this into the hands of consumers, entrepreneurs, or those in need. While the first method you might consider is donation, it’s unfortunately not quite as simple as it sounds, and donations can have business limitations.
Donating unsold goods and foodstuffs to those in need is an admirable practice that we’ll always support. Done strategically, it can mean good PR at little to no cost—a worthwhile trade. But the hard truth is that donation is not always as feasible as one might hope.
One complicating matter is taxes, as there are federal and state caps on how much charitable donation an organization can write off. Beyond these caps, anything that you donate or throw away is essentially a loss to your company. Realistically, you need to prioritize your business if you plan on being around to donate more in the future.
Further, organizations like your local shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens likely have their own rules on the types of products they will accept. They may have preferences and limits based on what they feel they can quickly and efficiently distribute.
Finally, there may be limited demand among charities for all the slow-moving sundries—all the non-food items that grocery stores may have on hand, such as kitchen implements, cleaning products, and toiletries. Such restrictive policies can exist for a number of reasons — specialization, public image, liability, and so on.
While thinking of creative ways to give back and reduce waste on a global scale is a worthwhile endeavor, in the current landscape, the immediate problem remains if space is a concern to you: you probably won’t be able to effectively clear your warehouses and store floors through donations alone.
So what can you do?
Believe it or not, entrepreneurs around the country are driving online demand for overstock food items considered “consumer packaged goods” (CPGs). These small business owners look to enterprises like yours to supply them with goods to fill their break room vending machines, stock the shelves of their own regional and nation-wide discount stores, and everything in between. So how can you move your goods out to this ever-hungry market?
B-Stock’s is the world’s largest B2B online marketplace, moving hundreds of millions of items into the secondary market every year. And while many companies use our solution to move excess apparel, appliances, and furniture, our food and grocery category has thrived in recent years given the climate economic uncertainty. In fact, this category grew 62% between 2020 and 2021, and has since maintained these levels.
The B-Stock auction platform provides several advantages over traditional liquidation methods and other online auction competitors.
Once you’ve reached the limit on what you can strategically donate, our solution is an effective alternative that can reduce your bottom line losses. If you’re looking to reclaim your overstock’s value to help fight shrink, you can rely on B-Stock’s list-and-bid format to naturally drive competition among buyers, extracting the highest willingness to pay. This in turn, fetches your organization the highest possible recovery rate. And that’s just the beginning of what B-Stock can offer.
As the largest online B2B marketplace, we can tap your organization into our massive buyer pool giving hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs direct access to your goods. Though competitors exist, these top names in the grocery retail space are constantly attracting new users, resulting in more traffic for all marketplaces—the network effect in action.
With a number of smart features including programmable launch and end times, automatic payment handling, and human-led dispute management, B-Stock will improve your operational efficiency, freeing up your own employees to focus on your core business. To streamline operations even further, you’ll have access to a dedicated account manager who can advise you on network-wide trends and winning listing strategies that will maximize your recovery.
In terms of brand control, B-Stock offers an unparalleled experience. For instance, you might restrict visibility of your items to a set list of approved buyers, or leave it open to all. Further, you can protect your brand image and existing sales channels by requiring that buyers adhere to your preferences as far as where and how your goods can be sold. We vet all buyers through a closely-reviewed registration process and hold them accountable for any dishonesty or mishandling of goods. As for compliance, the permanent, detailed records that B-Stock generates and stores are critical for bookkeeping, tax and insurance purposes, and document management. Finally, all sales activity is logged and easily accessible for analysis by both your team and ours, enabling data-backed decision making that evolves with your business.
Curious if these benefits can help push out your stagnant stock in particular? With B-Stock in your corner, you’re free to recover value on virtually any non-perishable inventory that you might have.
The grocery category is a broad one. Many have questions on precisely what items are fair game on our platform. The goods listed in existing grocery marketplaces consist mainly of medium-to-long shelf life products that, as a general rule, include almost anything but perishables, such as produce, meat, dairy, frozen or baked goods.
Food-wise, think the following:
Other popular consumables that charitable organizations often can’t accept include:
Finally, consider all the non-food items that your stores carry. Harder to donate and naturally more difficult to dispose of—given that they’re often toxic or non-biodegradable—such goods have often been written off as sunk costs in stores where they sell more slowly than expected. These include:
There’s a market for most any intact and usable stock. The following are what we usually see passing through marketplaces in the food and grocery space:
Ultimately, the key to creating successful relationships with buyers is transparency. As long as you are up front regarding conditions and are realistic about expected recovery, you’ll find a willing buyer.
As leaders in this space know, navigating the grocery business is complex even for top organizations in the industry.
With endless forecasting, countless variables, and, all too often, a regrettable amount of waste, grocery retailers often find themselves with an excess of slow-moving inventory. Such inventory does little more than take up space, weigh down operations, and tie up cash value. But B-Stock is here to help.
If you’re interested in learning more about how B-Stock can help you recover more value while streamlining the efficiency of your inventory reduction efforts, reach out to us today.
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