I’m going to reply in a MEGA-Post! It’s probably my longest post yet, but I think it’s great for a reader to challenge my way of thinking. We get stuck in routines and assume that they’re the only way that we can do things. Finding out how others work lets us grow.
I’ll intersperse Dana’s comments/questions (in italics) throughout with my answers.
“I am a longtime eBay buyer/seller — started out with baby clothes in the early 2000s when my twin daughters were born, but I have since morphed over to primarily GU, NWOT, NWT upscale ladies clothing.”
As you can see, Dana’s an experienced seller and is able to see some issues/questions about my eBay process.
“How many ways do you track inventory? You use a spreadsheet, GoDaddy for bookkeeping and something called YNAB? Anything else? Do you use eBay’s Inventory? Do you use Auctiva or another template service?”
- It all starts with YNAB. You Need A Budget is a budgeting software that my family uses to budget every single dollar we get. It’s helped us save about 50% of our income for the past few years. We love it to death. I use it for any transaction (personal or business) since it all comes from the same pool. It’s all manual which helps us really know what we’re spending and re-allocate budget categories as necessary. One of those things (for us) that if we automated, we wouldn’t pay attention to it enough. 🙂
- GoDaddy Bookkeeping – This is kind of like Mint. It automatically imports account information about sales and transactions. I can input mileage in here too. It is for tax bookkeeping purposes. It overlaps with YNAB but has extra things like PayPal fees (and the mileage). The only gap is that it doesn’t have a method for calculating the actual cost of goods sold. It can track how much you spent for a year, but not how much you’ve actually sold off that inventory. I band-aid this by using the memo field in my YNAB transaction. I just include the total # of items and then at the end of the year I can sum my total spent on new inventory and divide by my total # of items bought. This gives me an average cost of good for the year.
- My spreadsheet – This is for inventory tracking purposes only. I do monitor if I list something also on here as outlined above.
I don’t touch eBay’s Inventory and I don’t like the templates in their system either. Auctiva is another layer that I don’t want to have. I have enough systems as is!
“In your spreadsheet, you track the standard stuff, title, storage location, etc. But you also list category, measurements, weight, material and other details so I am wondering how your workflow actually WORKS. For me, measuring and weight is something I put in the listing, but not the spreadsheet. Perhaps you don’t list a lot of items at a time? In my spreadsheet, I have a page for items I plan to list, currently listed stuff and sold stuff. My process is to shop – look up on eBay or Terapeak, enter basic details on a to-list page of my spreadsheet, photograph, edit, list and at that time find out weight, fabric content, etc. I tend to list 30-50 items at a time. Why do you research after purchase? Why did you stop using categories for fees, selling price, refunds etc.? This for me is a super big hassle, and I am always playing catch-up on adding my eBay and pp fees, refunds, etc. super time consuming and I would love to not do that anymore. I do not currently use a bookkeeping program.”
So this is probably the engineer in me, but I like to have all of my information on one page. I don’t have to deal with multiple pages. I can add important metadata that lets me filter or sort as needed.
30-50 items is a ton! My goal right now is to list 15 items per week MINUS any sales. This can be on any system (Amazon, eBay, or Bonanza). As noted last week, I counted re-listing unintentionally.
Regardless, if I can, I’ll prep items on a weekend and have them ready to list throughout the week. 5 here or 5 there. My biggest issue is time as a constraint. I’ve also found this blog doesn’t help my listing either. It’s fun though and I’ve learned a ton, so I don’t want to get rid of it. I’m very tight time-wise, and it’s only gotten worse with the infant. Having to ship an item eats into time I could be doing other things.
As to why I do research after purchasing the item, this is for pricing or to find other listings that I can borrow from. I’m not good about listing the items right when I get home. Most of this is due to having young kids. They are just so needy!
For the weights of items, I need to have this at the time of listing and the items are already stored in a bin. I don’t want to have to go and grab the item again after I photograph/store it.
I’ve toyed with not “prepping” as many items at once, but it’s nice to be able to just photograph and not do research. I try to group similar tasks. I can dump out a big bag of clothes, remove tags, get some quick info, and do some research right up front. Then when I’m photographing, I don’t have to worry about details other than measurements and weight.
The main reason I’ve broken this part of my eBay process up into these two steps is because I want to move the bags of items into a more manageable space (i.e. on a bookshelf I have). This moves them off the floor and out of the way. If I did that first step in smaller chunks, I don’t think I’d feel as accomplished. Definitely a mental thing, but it’s so freeing to have that bag be empty instead of only making a dent in it.
Also, GoDaddy Bookkeeping is a life saver. It’s nearly automatic and that figures out most of the categories automatically. Others (Like Thrift Flipper) use an Excel-based tool. Either way, trying to keep track of it yourself is nearly impossible. GDBK is $10 a month. Not that bad at all since it’s also deductible!
“LOVE your idea about copying in reference links. I sell clothes and the higher up salespeople use different terminology to describe current fashions. It is SO confusing: burnout tops, ombre dip-dyes, sharkbite hems. I could go on …. but I will spare you that much, LOL!”
These are exactly why I love staying away from Women’s clothing. 🙂 I have enough trouble figuring out a generic “cut” of a dress. Men’s shirts have a bit of variation in collar and cuff, but not much else!
The reference link helps so much. Sometimes, I’ll have a great sales week so I won’t have to list at all. Then I end up forgetting about everything I’ve prepped. The photographs jog my memory, but it doesn’t tell me the price research that I completed. The best is when there’s a listing that’s exactly what my item is. I can just use Sell Similar on that item and change any small details like size, etc.
“I am so confused about item specifics. I am experimenting with adding terms that don’t appear in my title. (Why is it, do you suppose, that eBay wants all these words used in titles such as career, sleeve length, everyday or evening wear — obviously I think of clothing related items! — when the top price selling items don’t. Terapeak tells me that the most basic information in titles is what sells the most, not necessarily the most EXPENSIVE, but size, brand, color, words like plus, item condition are always the best movers. I don’t get it.”
I did this once when I sold my iPhones. I added way too many things, got questions about those details, and ended up removing them.
I go with the most important ones. If I try to use eBay’s help with the title, I’d need 10x the number of characters! I’ll remove one thing and add a detail. Then the eBay title help recommends that I put the first detail back! Terrible!!
“You use the global shipping program on eBay? It’s notorious for damaging packages — I used to use it, but I had several items opened and sloppily repacked resulting in a return or demand for money back. Yuck.”
I’ve never had an issue like this with the Global Shipping Program. If they are repackaging an item for you (as they do sometimes), then it’s under their control. You are only required to ship the item to the GSP center. Once it’s there, any damage, delay, etc. are handled by them. The proof would be that you had delivery confirmation. If the item was broken when they received it, they would have notified you. From all I’ve seen, GSP is quick to refund you if there’s an issue. GSP has helped me a ton and I couldn’t live without it. When I have to ship international and it’s not through GSP, it throws a wrench into my whole eBay process, and I spend a lot more time figuring how to ship the item!
“Never thought of a condition cell before, genius! I have thrifting goggles myself — you have to move fast or you spend half your day combing through trash for the gems. I have made lots of mistakes and missed some glaring faults, but I am improving as the years pass. I catch many things in the picture taking part.”
Yeah, the Excel cell with “condition” is awesome. I copy the cell contents to the “Condition” space on eBay. This strips any formatting from Excel and then I can copy that right into the listing without there having to be any weird spreadsheet formatting.
I have also gotten a lot more “choosy” over the years, but I definitely still make mistakes!
“Only a fool would fail to include measurements given the variance of different brand sizings. And yet, I have two items right this minute that are being returned to me because the buyer didn’t bother actually checking HER measurements to see if it matched with the clothes’ sizes. Ugh. Sometimes you just can’t win, right?”
I feel the same way. I can’t wait for the interview the guy is doing with the folks over at Scavenger Life. I have a feeling they’re selling clothes from Kohl’s that are all new. I don’t include measurements for newer shoes (like Nike or Air Jordan).
“I am confused about how you are integrating drop box. You create simple text descriptions or templates? Have you tried eBay’s template program? I am so confused about THAT…. along with inventory (which allows you to save a seasonal listing and then trot it out again the next time that season rolls around) I don’t understand what they mean by folders and templates and products.”
Yep, I have simple “blurbs” about possible items. You’ll have to wait till next week when I’ll share them. These are my templates. I have one for clothing type: shoes, blazer, pants, shirt. Dresses aren’t too often so I didn’t have one of those. I’ll just type in the measurements and it has a little note about my free shipping and sales tax for in-state sales. I’ve thought about removing those little notes since I’ve missed them even as a buyer, but it doesn’t take any longer for me to include it.
I’ve also tried out Crazy Lister for free templates. I think they could be a great solution for someone who’s listing multiple quantities of an item. They make you feel more like a store. It was a little too much work for me to maintain even though Victor is a really cool guy and knows his stuff.
eBay’s templates and inventory programs are super confusing, and I’m not going to use them. I think they’re geared toward sellers who have regular inventory (like box stores).
“I am trying out shifting to free shipping, too. I am so annoyed that eBay charges me a percentage on actual shipping prices. How is that fair? But I have the occasional super heavy item that it isn’t logical to ship for free — I inherited my father-in-law’s collection of vintage Playboy magazines — A current problem that I am really struggling with is how to send a couple hundred issues to Sweden. ASTRONOMICAL.”
Yep. International shipping is tough for heavy things. That’s why I ONLY do GSP unless someone asks. Then I would invoice them the extra cost. The best part about doing free shipping but invoicing for international orders is that you get some extra money that would have covered state-side shipping!
“What is a YNAB purchase? Is that another accounting program?”
As noted above, YNAB is a budgeting program. We manually put all of our transactions into YNAB and that helps us track how we planned to spend our money and how we actually are. Quick and dirty – take all of your cash and allocate every single dollar. That way, if you overspend in one category, you know you have to re-allocate from somewhere else that you’ve earmarked money. You can’t go into debt this way. When I “pay” a credit card bill, I don’t look at it as a bill. I look at it as transferring money from a positive checking account into a negative credit card account. If I spend a dollar in cash, debit, or credit card, it doesn’t matter. I’ve spent it so there’s no way I can try to spend it a different way. At first, it felt super restrictive but then it forced my wife and I to really think about how we were spending/saving our money. I add in the total # of items purchased into YNAB‘s memo space on a transaction so I can use it to calculate COGS.
“Interesting way to color code. As I said so long ago up at the top of this comment, I have 3 distinct pages for to-list, current listings and sold listings (I do that because sometimes the item gets returned or there is an issue with a sale) I only use color coding tor two things (prob because Numbers gives you a basic option of red or green text, 🙂 I highlight in red an item that is in current listings and needs to be moved to solds – with all the info i have been putting into the spreadsheet, this part of the job takes forever to do and I am always behind on the task) I highlight in green any item that I pull from one of my numbered storage tubs to answer further questions or if it has somehow possibly has slipped through the cracks and failed to relist. Isn’t it confusing to have it all jumbled together and then colored?”
The only thing I don’t love about the color codes is that it doesn’t let me filter based on color. I tried doing a cell with information and conditional formatting, but it was too much work. Highlighting a row and clicking the cell style takes 2 clicks vs. the typing I would do otherwise.
If I have an item returned to me, I’ll just put it back in the same tub it was in before and relist the item. My listing already has the item location in it. I don’t have to do anything with the spreadsheet since I’m so terrible at updating sold items, and GoDaddy Bookkeeping just picks up that there was a refund. Taxes require you to list all sales and then deduct returns anyway. You could sell the same item 3 times, and all three sales would be on your sales line in your taxes.
“How are you managing to purge on Facebook? Time save or selling via FB? I have been running sale after sale this past month to clear out inventory that’s been hanging out for the last year.”
I don’t think I was clear here. I haven’t tried to purge inventory on Facebook yet. I have done Craigslist a bit and had a yard sale.
I was talking about purging my Facebook friends list so I can cultivate a more positive experience using the system! 🙂
“I have read conflicting information about the WAY people list and relist. Some folks claim that Good til Canceled is best because search engines like google like the longer listings. On the contrary, Some people claim that it’s to your listing’s benefit to relist — because eBay takes into account the number of watchers in ranking your stuff under best match. I always struggle between sell similar or relist. Have you looked into this?”
LOL, I just posted about this on Thursday. I’m trying an experiment but so far, I think it’s a waste of time, especially since eBay links the previous versions together.
WHEW! I’m tired just from responding to all of these awesome questions.
I’m only one voice, so I’d really recommend listening to Scavenger Life’s podcast. They do this full time, and one of the best parts of their site is their comments. There’s a ton of different sellers who all do different things. Everyone has their own style, and you can pick and choose little nuggets of wisdom from almost every week.
An eBay process is going to be evolving over time (or else it gets stagnant). Small changes can make a big impact. It’s awesome that sellers can collaborate and talk about best practices like this!
Do you have any more questions so far? I’m going to finish up with the last two parts of my eBay process in the next few weeks!
Image Credit: Boegh