The Dilemma of Unsold Inventory: Donate or Resell?

The Dilemma of Unsold Inventory: Donate or Resell?
June 20, 2024 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

There is no such thing as a consumer product brand that doesn’t deal with excess inventory—items that they are having real trouble selling. This issue arises from various factors, including changes in customer preferences, market shifts, inaccurate forecasting, or products that simply miss the mark. When brands have exhausted all strategies such as discounting or bundling to move these items, they often face a critical decision: what to do with the remaining stock.

One option that increasingly garners attention is donating the unsold inventory. While this choice may initially seem like a last resort, it offers several compelling benefits, including tax write-offs and enhanced corporate social responsibility. This article delves into the advantages and considerations of donating excess inventory, providing insights for brands looking to make strategic, impactful decisions about their surplus stock.

Managing Unsold Inventory: Donate or Resell?

For businesses, the decision between donating and reselling is very important. Donating the unsold stock can show that the company cares about social responsibility and can improve its reputation. On the other hand selling inventory even at a highly discounted price, can help the company recover some of the money it spent on it.

It’s a difficult decision to make because businesses have to find the right balance between being charitable and being financially prudent. They need to think about their unique situation and make the best choice for their business and values. This article will examine the advantages of both donating and reselling to help businesses make an informed decision.

The Case for Reselling Surplus Inventory

Selling excess inventory isn’t just about cash! It lets you recover costs, keep your brand strong, and even clear outdated stock. Reselling surplus goods offers diverse benefits, aligning with business objectives. Here are some key considerations and advantages to keep in mind:

Cost Recovery

Reselling allows businesses to recover some of the costs associated with the production and distribution of goods. While resale prices may be lower than the original retail value, they still contribute to offsetting losses incurred from excess inventory.

Maintaining Brand Value

Reselling products, even at discounted prices, helps maintain the perceived value of a brand. Donating large quantities of unsold inventory might flood secondary markets and dilute the brand’s premium image, which can be a concern for companies aiming to uphold their brand reputation.

Revenue Generation

Reselling provides an opportunity for revenue generation. This additional income can be particularly valuable for businesses facing financial challenges or seeking ways to reinvest in other aspects of the company.

Market Presence

Participating in resale channels, whether through online platforms, outlet stores, or discount retailers, allows businesses to maintain a presence in the market. This ongoing visibility can be crucial for brand awareness and customer retention.

Clearance of Obsolete Inventory

Reselling is an effective way to clear out obsolete inventory. This is especially important in industries with rapidly changing trends, where holding on to outdated products can be detrimental to the brand.

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Liquidating unsold inventory at discounted prices to loyal customers can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. It provides a value proposition for consumers, allowing them to access products they may have missed during the regular sales period.

Flexibility in Pricing Strategy

Reselling offers businesses the flexibility to adjust pricing strategies based on market demand and conditions. This adaptability is especially relevant in dynamic industries where consumer preferences and economic factors can change rapidly.

Logistical Simplicity

Reselling often involves less complex logistics compared to coordinating donations. While donation processes may require finding suitable recipients and managing the logistics of distribution, reselling typically follows established retail channels.

Balancing Social and Economic Goals

Choosing to resell excess inventory allows businesses to balance economic goals with social considerations. By recouping some of the costs, companies can reinvest in sustainable practices or allocate resources to support social responsibility initiatives.

The Case for Donating

As businesses navigate the complex terrain of surplus inventory management, another strategy that emerges is the case for donating surplus goods. Beyond the immediate financial considerations, donating presents a multifaceted approach that aligns with broader corporate objectives. Consider these key advantages:

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Donating excess inventory is a tangible way for businesses to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. It showcases a commitment to ethical practices and community well-being, contributing to a positive corporate image.

Enhanced Brand Reputation

Acts of philanthropy, such as donating goods to charitable organizations, can significantly enhance a company’s brand reputation. Consumers are increasingly valuing socially responsible businesses, and positive associations with charitable giving can foster loyalty.

Tax Benefits

In many jurisdictions, businesses can benefit from tax deductions when they donate goods to qualified nonprofit organizations. These tax incentives can help offset costs and provide financial advantages for the company.

Reduced Environmental Impact

Donating excess inventory is an environmentally friendly alternative to disposal. By giving products a second life through donation, businesses contribute to reducing waste and minimizing their overall environmental footprint.

Supporting Local Communities

Supporting Local Communities

Donated goods can have a direct and positive impact on local communities. Whether it’s clothing, food, or other essential items, businesses can address immediate needs and support those who are less fortunate.

Employee Morale and Engagement

Employees often take pride in working for socially responsible organizations. Engaging in charitable activities, such as donating excess inventory, can boost employee morale, foster a positive company culture, and contribute to higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention.

Clearing Warehouse Space

Donating excess inventory allows businesses to clear warehouse space quickly. This can be especially beneficial in industries with rapidly changing trends or seasonal fluctuations, where storage space is at a premium.

Strategic Partnerships and Networking

Building relationships with charitable organizations through donations can lead to strategic partnerships. Collaborating with nonprofits can open up opportunities for joint initiatives, shared values, and increased networking within the community.

Emergency Relief and Disaster Response

Donating excess inventory is crucial during times of emergencies or natural disasters. Businesses can play a vital role in providing immediate relief by contributing essential goods to affected communities.

Positive Public Relations

News of charitable donations can generate positive media coverage. This positive publicity can attract new customers, partners, and investors, further bolstering the company’s public relations.

Want to know the value of your inventory?


In navigating the delicate decision between reselling and donating excess inventory, businesses find a crucial ally in Overstock Trader. With a nuanced understanding of the intricacies involved, Overstock Trader stands ready to guide businesses through this decision-making process. Whether the choice leans towards reselling to recoup costs or towards the philanthropic avenue of donation, Overstock Trader offers specialized expertise to streamline the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the dilemma faced by retailers when it comes to unsold inventory?

Retailers often face a dilemma when deciding what to do with unsold inventory. They must choose between reselling the products, donating them, or disposing of them. This decision involves weighing financial considerations, ethical concerns, and the impact on brand reputation.

How does donating unsold inventory benefit retailers?

Donating unsold inventory can benefit retailers in several ways. It allows them to demonstrate corporate social responsibility, build a positive brand image, and contribute to charitable causes. Additionally, it can provide tax benefits and help reduce environmental impact by preventing the items from ending up in landfills.

What are the hidden costs associated with unsold inventory?

Unsold inventory can come with hidden costs for retailers. These include storage expenses, handling, and transportation costs, potential devaluation of products over time, and the loss of potential profits that could have been generated from selling other products instead.