How to identify failing product lines and delist items

The Better Retailing team finds out how retailers identify when a product’s time is up on their shelves and how they go about delisting it from their store

There comes a time when every retailer needs to look at a product or a category and decide the time has come to replace it with something else, whether it’s a new launch that captured the imagination for a few months before interest waned or falling sales mean a category can no longer justify its current shelf space. With some products, the decision can be taken out of a retailer’s hand if a product is delisted by the supplier or the supplier itself folds.

“Mortons Rolls has gone into administration and it had been going for 60 years in Glasgow,” says Tariq Chishti, from Netherlee Post & News in Glasgow. “You can’t get it now, but it has created a gap in the market. You can’t get Dark Bounty any more and that was a good seller.”

Retailers need to remain vigilant of what’s happening on their shop floors, in their back offices and in their delivery orders to keep on top of how much they have and how long something has sat unpurchased in their store.

“I generally give new products eight weeks and look at the percentages,” says Kim Patel, from Ardingly News Shop in Ardingly, West Sussex. “If I’ve sold over 70% of them, then I keep them. Anything under 50% and I definitely won’t keep it, and anything in between I might give a second chance.”

Retailers should also think hard about the wider climate and economy because if they can get ahead of falling demand, then they can start looking for more saleable replacements early.

“Because the economy is changing customers’ focus in respect of finding value for money, it’s important when we make decisions to delist stock that we look at credible alternatives which will add more value,” says Terry Caton, who runs a Londis in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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