Friday, January 9, 2009

Inventory: Moving Product Online

JANUARY 9, 2009

Jeff Hoffman, CEO, Enable Holdings

Jeff Hoffman is CEO of Enable Holdings, dedicated to helping manufacturers and retailers get the maximum value for their excess inventory. Enable Holdings includes auction Website, fixed-price Website, business-to-business trading division Dibu Trading Corp., offline excess inventory solution RedTag Live! and private auction software company Commerce Innovations. He also serves as entrepreneur-in-residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech.

eMarketer: A lot of people are talking about how rough this economic environment is. But is bad news for everybody else good news for your business?

Jeff Hoffman: Yes, it certainly is. When retail is slumping—since we are in the business of picking up unsold retail and selling that off—we are the after-retail channel of excess inventory. We tend to get more inventory during slow times, which means we have more products and better prices. So, it’s definitely a benefit to our company.

eMarketer: At one time your business was referred to as the liquidation industry. Terms like “distressed merchandise,” “odd lots” and “steep discounts” were common. But now it’s called “asset recovery,” and it’s become a big part of the economy. What changed?

Mr. Hoffman: Two things. First of all, there was a recognition by manufacturers and retailers that asset recovery—recovering the cash you’ve invested, getting products out of the warehouse and off the books after the retail run—was actually an important part of their business and could generate respectable revenues.

There was a recognition by manufacturers that they need this function—they need to pay attention to it.

“The advent of new tool sets and new Internet technologies enabled this sales channel to become much more mature.”

And, additionally, with the development of new tools, especially on the Internet, it became easier to sell that merchandise and make money on it. The advent of new tool sets and new Internet technologies enabled this sales channel to become much more mature.

eMarketer: Could you explain how the Internet has affected your category?

Mr. Hoffman: We can obviously move a lot more products a lot faster. For example, on, we get 2.1 million visitors a month typically to the Website. So we can expose the product to a large consumer base in a very short period of time and move products out of warehouses quickly—which is the name of the game in retail rotations.

The full version of this interview is available on eMarketer’s Total Access subscription site.

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