The percentage of inventory sold to a retailer by a supplier or manufacturer, calculated by dividing the number of units sold by the total number of units available for sale.

What is Sell-in?

Sell-in refers to the process of selling products from a manufacturer or supplier to a retailer or distributor. It is the initial stage where products are introduced into the retailer's inventory. During sell-in, negotiations on terms, pricing, and quantities take place between the supplier and the retailer, and the products are typically shipped to the retailer's distribution centers or stores to be made available for sale to consumers. Sell-in is a critical aspect of supply chain management and involves forecasting demand, managing inventory, and establishing agreements that are mutually beneficial for both suppliers and retailers.

How Sell-in works

  • Negotiation: The supplier and retailer negotiate terms such as pricing, payment, delivery schedules, and product quantities. These negotiations aim to establish a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties.

  • Order Placement: Once the negotiations are finalised, the retailer places an order with the supplier for the agreed-upon products. This order specifies the types and quantities of products to be delivered.

  • Product Shipment: The supplier prepares the products and ships them to the retailer's distribution centers or stores. This often involves logistics and transportation coordination to ensure timely and accurate delivery.

  • Receiving and Inspection: Upon receiving the products, the retailer inspects them for quality and quantity. Any discrepancies or issues are typically addressed with the supplier.

  • Inventory Management: The received products are added to the retailer's inventory. Proper inventory management is crucial to ensure that products are available for sale to consumers when needed.

  • Sales to Consumers: Once in stock, the products are made available for purchase by consumers through the retailer's various sales channels, such as physical stores or online platforms.

  • Monitoring and Reordering: Throughout the selling season, the retailer monitors sales performance and inventory levels. If certain products are selling well, the retailer may place reorders with the supplier to replenish stock.

  • End of Season: At the end of the season or product's lifecycle, any remaining inventory might be subject to clearance sales or other strategies to minimise losses.
The effectiveness of the sell-in process depends on accurate demand forecasting, efficient supply chain management, and strong collaboration between the supplier and retailer.

Pros of Sell-in

  1. Assured Supply: Sell-in agreements help retailers secure a steady supply of products from their suppliers. This ensures that they have the necessary inventory to meet customer demand, reducing the risk of stockouts and lost sales opportunities.
  2. Negotiating Power: Retailers often negotiate favourable terms with suppliers during the sell-in process. This can include volume discounts, extended payment terms, or co-op advertising support. These negotiations can improve the retailer's profitability and competitiveness.
  3. Control Over Merchandise: By participating in the sell-in process, retailers have more control over the selection of products they carry in their stores. They can tailor their inventory to match customer preferences and market trends, enhancing their ability to meet consumer demand effectively.

Cons of Sell-in

  1. Inventory Risk: Retailers often need to commit to purchasing a certain quantity of products from suppliers during the sell-in process. If these products don't sell as expected, retailers can be left with excess inventory, which ties up capital and may result in losses due to markdowns or write-offs.
  2. Supplier Dependence: Relying heavily on sell-in agreements can make retailers highly dependent on their suppliers. Any disruptions in the supplier's production, quality issues, or delivery delays can negatively impact the retailer's ability to meet customer demand and maintain inventory levels.
  3. Limited Flexibility: Sell-in agreements may restrict a retailer's flexibility to respond quickly to changes in market conditions or consumer preferences. Retailers may find it challenging to adjust their product assortments or change suppliers if locked into long-term agreements.


Below you will find answers to common questions
What are the key benefits of the sell-in process for retailers?
The sell-in process offers several benefits to retailers. It allows us to secure a consistent supply of products from our suppliers, ensuring that we have the inventory needed to meet customer demand. It also provides an opportunity to negotiate favourable terms, such as pricing and payment terms, which can enhance our profit margins. Additionally, sell-in agreements often come with marketing support and promotional opportunities from suppliers, helping us drive sales and increase brand visibility.
What are some potential challenges or risks associated with the sell-in process?
While the sell-in process has its advantages, it also presents challenges and risks. One major challenge is managing inventory effectively to prevent overstocking or stockouts. We need to accurately forecast demand to avoid excess inventory tying up capital or missing out on sales due to insufficient stock. Another challenge is the potential for supplier-related issues, such as production delays or quality concerns, which can disrupt our operations. Lastly, long-term sell-in agreements can limit our flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences, so we must strike a balance between commitment and flexibility.