In the closeout industry there are often different words and terms used for what may seem to be the same thing, but don't let this confuse you. Most of the time they are referencing the same ideas. Excess inventory is the same as closeouts, overstock, liquidation stock, discontinued merchandise and surplus merchandise. So why all these different terms for the same thing? Good question.
Companies that buy excess inventory come in all shapes and sizes and have different backgrounds and specialties. They all use different terminology to describe what they do but it boils down to just about the same thing. As an example, if a company runs a closeout website that helps companies sell excess inventory, they may refer to this as overstock or closeouts. But if they are working with retail stores that are closing, they may use words like liquidation stock, dispose of inventory, shutting down operations, etc. It often has to do with the nature of the sale itself.
Another example would be something like this. If a company is in the overstock business and wants to buy excess inventory, they may look to importers and other distributors who have extra merchandise to offload or get rid of because they simply have too much stock. But if this same company wants to buy excess inventory for pennies on the dollar, they may need to find retailers or wholesalers who are shutting down or are going bankrupt. This would be a situation where the inventory is much more distressed, and likely to be sold off at lower prices. Closeout websites promoting merchandise to discount buyers are often more general overstock sellers than outright liquidators.
There are always mixed truckloads of Walmart and Amazon returns available; this would be considered liquidation stock rather than simply excess inventory and it will be sold for less money than closeouts that are in original cases. Typically, these products may include returns and even damaged goods, there is likely no manifest of what is included, and it would be considered more of a bulk liquidation sale than simply selling closeouts to clear out the warehouse. Companies that buy excess inventory each have their own niche and each handle different types of liquidation stock.
Closeout websites and surplus buyers will interchange terms depending on each one's specific needs and types of product they buy. But at the end of the day these all add up to pretty much the same thing: Closeouts, surplus inventory, excess inventory, liquidation stock, overstock, obsolete inventory. These are all terms for selling excess inventory.