Inventory management becomes more and more important as you grow your eBay business. In the beginning, a book shelf will do. This is not scalable, though, so if your business grows, you’re soon going to be dealing with piles! I’m going to expand on my previous inventory post to with some extra tips on how I manage my process.
A few months ago, I went into detail on my eBay process up to listing. I talked about how I store items, but there were some important details that I think I glossed over.
Just as a quick overview, when I’m researching an item and have decided that an item is worth listing, an inventory # is automatically assigned in my mega-spreadsheet. I record some pertinent information (title, brand, size, and a link to my research), and do a quick once-over on any issues with the item.
The next step is to take detailed pictures and measurements, and then the item goes into storage.
There’s two things to note about the process so far:
1. Assign a number randomly. The # doesn’t matter at all. It’s just an identifier. You don’t need to worry about items being numbered together either. Sometimes it helps to do a bunch of photographs of similar items, but if they’re different, it’s not a big deal.
2. I store my items in tubs/bins. I wasn’t clear on how I select the tub that a current batch is going into. It’s not random, but it’s not scientific. I go into my storage area and look for a tub which has room in it. That’s it!
In general, I don’t try to store like items with other like items. I do have one tub for shoes, but other than that, most items get mix and matched. The reason that this is so helpful is that you can quickly and easily pick out the item you need.
For anyone who doesn’t believe me, store 12 pair of jeans (all wrapped in nice little plastic bags) in one tub, and then have fun finding that one pair! Sure, it’s nice when you’re putting the items in, but if you broke that up into a few tubs, it will make it significantly easier to find your item when you need it.
It’s all about risk reduction – what’s the risk that you grab the wrong pair of jeans (same brand slightly different size, like my fashion bug plus jeans). If you mess that up, you’re going to be paying a lot of shipping costs just to get the wrong pants back and the right pants to the buyer!
So the big tip here is to try to mix and match your items. It takes a little bit more effort up front, but it helps on the back end!
And if you don’t believe that this is a good method, maybe you should re-think. The biggest of the big inventory company does exactly this method.
Amazon! They fill totes and store them as they go using a mix and match policy. Even if they get a pallet of the same item, it will be sorted into different totes that go into different spaces across their warehouse. This lets their software know that when an item sales, an associate can go to the closest one instead of trekking across a warehouse. Talk about inventory optimization…
The one exception I have for this is easily identifiable similar items. I have some wood markers that are all different colors. Knowing they are in one spot does help. I guess the biggest difference here is that I have lots of different shirts or jeans that I have listed, so mixing those up makes sense. These markers are tiny, and I don’t want to them to get lost, so they are in their own bag within a tub.
Hopefully this tip helps you store some of your similar but different items in a way which helps for efficient gathering when you’re shipping! It’s helped me a lot,and I haven’t shipped an item to the wrong buyer yet. *CROSSES FINGERS*
Are you organized with your inventory?
Image Credit: designboom