What Does Dead Stock Mean? | Deadstock Meaning & Definition

Joshua Weatherwax
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    Dead stock, isn't that one of those Marvel superheroes?

    Close, but no. Dead stock is an issue that many an inventory control manager or order management specialist finds themself faced with. It takes up warehouse space, loses value, and interferes with a business's ability to make money. It's an important skill when developing an inventory manager salary and job description, too.

    So, what exactly is dead stock, what is the deadstock meaning, and how do you deal with it?

    We'll give you those answers and more to help you with the inventory management process and get back to growing your restaurant business.

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    Dead Stock Meaning: What Is Dead Stock?

    Dead stock is a form of surplus inventory that is unlikely to be sold in the near future. It is a drain on resources and actively prevents a business's ability to increase its profits. Unfortunately, it can be found in the facilities of many businesses and takes up valuable warehousing space. The dead stock meaning can also be used when referring to dead restaurant inventory.

    Dead Stock Definition

    Dead stock is any unsold inventory that sits in storage for a long period of time. These goods are not expected to be sold in the near future. They were not ordered with the intention of storing them for a long time, as in the case of safety stock. This makes dead stock a drain on warehouse resources.

    Dead stock continues to depreciate in value and may eventually expire or become obsolete and have to be written off as a loss.

    Example of Dead Stock

    Dead stock is not the same as inventory with a long life cycle. It was never intended to sit for as long as it has. It is likely the result of overbuying, inaccurate demand planning, or poor sales strategies.

    To help clear things up, here's a brief example of dead stock:

    Let's say you're a food wholesaler and you ordered 200 sacks of potatoes for resale. Your inventory forecasting shows that you can expect to sell them within two months.

    Unfortunately, demand for those wholesale products unexpectedly dropped and you can only sell 50 sacks in those two months. Due to a new health food trend, revised forecasting shows that sweet potatoes have stolen most demand for potatoes. As such, you can't feasibly sell the remaining 150 any time soon. 

    This remaining balance is now considered dead stock. These potatoes are now a drain on your warehouse and may even go bad before you can offload them. Even worse, you may have caused a bullwhip effect for your suppliers, so they too have too many potatoes on hand.

    Dead Stock Inventory Management

    Dead stock inventory control consists of selling what product you can and finding ways to minimize the expenses accrued by dead stock. An inventory control manager needs to determine the causes of their dead stock and work on inventory reduction.

    Causes of Dead Stock

    One thing that can lead to dead stock is poorly managed lead time and reorder points (avoid this using our reorder point formula). This can cause customers to cancel their orders and stock that was expected to be sold left sitting in the warehouse.

    Inventory tracking is also a vital part of managing and eliminating issues with dead stock. It will also allow you to determine the correct amount of goods to order in the future and recognize sales trends and inventory cycle count.

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    How to Account for Dead Stock in Balance Sheet

    An unfortunate effect of dead stock is that it will stay in the debit column of the balance sheet. This is unlike regular inventory which turns over regularly and will leave the debit column when sold.

    Dead stock must be accounted in physical counts of inventory each month it sits until it is gone. That is, until it is finally offloaded or written off as a loss. This lowers your profitability each month and highlights the importance of eliminating dead stock.

    Dead Stock Analysis

    Dead stock analysis is part of conducting an inventory audit that determines the amount of inefficient stock in storage. It is a common part of most inventory management software. It is determined by comparing the expected and average life cycles of products against their actual time in inventory. If a good has passed the expected time for turnover, it risks becoming dead stock.

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    How to Get Rid of Dead Stock

    Getting rid of dead stock isn't easy. If it was it wouldn't have become dead in the first place.

    Here are a few ways you can move that product.

    • Start kitting. Kitting is a great option for products that aren't selling. By bundling them with similar goods or products that with more demand, you can offload them more easily under a single SKU number. In particular, you can work with a subscription box company and get your goods bundled with similar products from other companies.
    • Offer discounts. The most common way to sell unwanted goods is to lower their price. Create a sense of urgency with a limited-time sale and push as much of the stock as you can.
    • Transfer the goods to another store. If you own multiple locations, moving them to another location is a viable option. Demand can vary greatly by location and you may be able to sell more stock in another area.
    • See if your supplier will take them back. Some suppliers will include in their contract that they'll take inventory back if they don't sell by a certain point. You may have that deal already and not know it or your supplier might be willing to sign a new contract.
    • Make new connections. If you’re a wholesaler, building relationships and finding new customers is a great way to sell dead stock. Both BlueCart eCommerce and our online marketplace are perfect ways to do that.

    Dead Stock Report

    A dead stock report is an inventory count of all goods in your inventory that are considered dead stock. This report can be created by taking a full inventory and comparing products' time in inventory against expected life cycle. If you use software that provides a perpetual inventory count, there is likely the ability to export a dead stock report.

    This report can give you insight into what products are in danger of expiring and allocate resources to sell or offload them.

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    How Businesses Can Benefit from Dead Stock

    Although dead stock is considered a burden, companies can turn it to their advantage. Allow us to share a few ways how dead stock can be used by businesses in their marketing and sales efforts.

    1. Export to international markets. In the US, we are accustomed to having the latest models but that’s not true for all parts of the world. That’s why even products that fall under the deadstock meaning, can still be sold to less developed countries. That’s especially true for electronics.
    2. Sell to outlet stores. They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure. That’s true for dead stock as well. You can sell it in bulk to outlet stores that specialize in selling such products.
    3. Donate to charities. NGOs and non-profit organizations can use dead stock by upscaling it or by giving it to people in dire need of such goods. An additional benefit of donating dead stock is that there are tax benefits and deductions based on the market value of the donated goods.
    4. Organize a clearance sale. Clearance sales have the potential to turn the burden of dead stock into profit. Furthermore, customers who visit the clearance sale might also purchase other products from the store.
    5. Offer to employees. Staff members might find your dead stock to be useful. It can be repurposed or upcycled. 
    6. Sell on auction websites. Auctioning dead stock can be done in bundles in order to save time. 
    7. Use as gifts. A lot of eCommerce businesses include gifts with each order. That can be dead stock products that are unlikely to sell. Even if the customer doesn’t need them either, at least the business is freeing up storage space.

    It's Alive!

    Dead stock doesn't have to stay dead. There are many ways you can get it out of your inventory and avoid writing it off. Just try some of the options we listed above and get back to focusing on your most valuable inventory. It's an important part of our inventory control guide.

    Going forward you should try to avoid running into issues with dead stock entirely. Calculating your economic order quantity can help. Another viable option is to adopt a just in time inventory model so you never have too many products on hand.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Dead Stock

    Having dead stock items in your inventory isn't ideal, regardless of the business that you're in. However, with proper planning, you can reduce your dead stock items and plan for business success. Here are commonly asked questions about dead stock products.

    What Do You Do With Dead Inventory?

    Consider doing the following with dead stock inventory:

    • Bundle products
    • Donate dead stock items
    • Offer free gifts to customers
    • Hold clearance sales on excess inventory

    What Is the Difference Between Dead Stock and Obsolete Stock?

    Dead stock refers to excess stock that isn't being used for extended periods of time whereas obsolete stock is inventory that can no longer be used. Dead stock is calculated when you multiply dead stock and the current item price.

    Can You Buy Dead Stock?

    Yes, you can buy dead stock? Sellers will often sell their dead stock items for discounted prices or in bundles with other products.

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