Last week, we started the discussion about my eBay process, and I received a lot of help on the dress that I’m going to list. This week, I’m going to fill in the gap with how I store all of the information I gather during research and the ensuing steps of the process – a really big spreadsheet.
Once again, let’s start with my overall eBay process:
- Purchase item
- Research/Prep Item
- Measure, Photograph, and Store item
- Clean up Photos/List Item
- Pack/Ship Sold item
The biggest thing I missed in my research post is how I store the data about my item (and lots of other important information from the listing process)! Kind of important.
I couldn’t decide when I should discuss my spreadsheet. It touches nearly all of my process steps, but I think it’s foundational. Knowing how I store the information will give context to my whole process. I’ll still go in detail for steps 3, 4, and 5 in future posts over the next few weeks!
I use a spreadsheet that stores information across the steps 2 through 5. This spreadsheet is saved in the cloud on my Microsoft OneDrive. OneDrive is very similar to Dropbox, but I can’t use Dropbox on my Surface Pro 2 RT.
Is this an ideal setup? Probably not. Using a spreadsheet is a manual process.
It isn’t the best option, but I’m doing this side hustle by myself and have to work in three spaces: the kitchen table (where my laptop is), the basement (where my desktop computer and eBay tools are located), and the garage (boxes, storage tubs, and shelving). At any given part of the process, I can work in one location at a time which saves in ‘transit time’. Any six sigma people will love the lack of “movement.” If I can access this spreadsheet anywhere, I can do a lot of different steps anywhere!
This all comes down to a spreadsheet that sits in the cloud.
Super Awesome Inventory Spreadsheet
- Storage Location
- Inventory/Item Number
- Tag Size
- Country of Manufacture
- Links from Research/Reference
- 3 columns for various measurements
- Old columns that I don’t use anymore (dealing with costs of goods sold, sales price, fees, etc. – all of this minus the COGS is in GoDaddy Bookkeeping)
- Special Notes – Color Coding
The order of these is a combination of entering information left-to-right and having the information I’m going to need later right at my fingertips.
The main goal with this spreadsheet is mobility and ease of listing. Hopefully, I can just copy/paste all of this information right into the listing.
Storage Location/Inventory Number
Even though this column is first, it’s the last to get filled out, right before I store the item. I’ll take a quick look at my storage tubs’ levels and find one that will fit the items I’m trying to photograph and store that day.
The inventory number is just a sequential number of items on the spreadsheet. I drag the cell downwards, and Excel adds “1” to the previous number.
We all know how important the eBay title is even with all the emphasis on item specifics. I try to have exactly what I’m going to include in my eBay listing detailed out in this cell. I copy a relevant title from a previously sold item, modify any colors, model numbers, or sizing, and then include that in my proposed title.
I’m debating about removing this column. It’s normally just a quick thing and doesn’t’ necessarily tie into eBay’s categories. The eBay categories have breadcrumb trails (multiple levels). I just include things like “men’s shirt” or “electronics”. This has helped in the past to help me sort items and find information quickly (maybe for a misplaced item).
Size Tag/Material/Country of Manufacture
Again, I’m trying to gather as much information as possible early on. Most of this information is required for item specifics and is especially important for international sales. The Global Shipping Program asks for a country of manufacture. It isn’t required, but I imagine that including the country decreases any chances for delays in customs.
The types of information I include in the condition field has evolved over time. When I started, I included abstract descriptions like “Excellent used condition!” or “Awesome!” or “Nice!” I haven’t had a situation where this came back to bite me, but I like to remove the ambiguity.
I include any flaws – “small mark near bottom of right cuff” or “size tag is faded, please see measurements”. Then I describe if something is working or how I tested it.
This cell is critical.
I try to find all of the issues during my research portion, but I’m not always successful with that. For some reason, some stains just jump out at you once you’re photographing an item. Maybe those thrifter’s goggles just take a bit of time to wear off? Either way, I can quickly add to it during any future step of the listing process
Pro-Tip – If you have a large amount of items in your listing (maybe 6 pairs of pants,) all with specific information about condition, size, color, etc., use Notepad to detail out the list. You can copy this text directly into an Excel cell, and it will keep the formatting (all of the returns and spacing). This can then be copied right into eBay when listing. I’ve tried to write it out inside of a cell, and it’s just not pretty. Hitting the Enter button in Excel switches cells instead of adding in a return.
Links from Research
I don’t do anything fancy for this cell. I copy and paste a link from my eBay research (or google or whatever), whether it’s a search result with multiple listings or an individual item. When I’m listing, I’ll paste this into my browser and use “sell similar” on a relevant item.
Some of the important information like item category and brand automatically get pulled in. Sometimes I won’t get to list an item that I’ve researched for a few weeks. I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone something that I researched for 3 minutes a few weeks ago! Having a saved URL of a similar item removes my personal memory from the listing process.
There was a bit of scandal over at Scavenger Life when someone mentioned that they don’t put any measurements in their listings. This doesn’t jive well with me. Measurements describe items with worn size tags or vintage items that don’t’ fit like current styles. If you’re selling newer shoes or clothing still with the tags, then you might not need to include the information. If you’re selling something that’s older (even if it still has its tags), I lean towards including measurements.
I break my measurements out into several different types, but in general, they include some combination of the following, all measured when the clothing is flat:
- Chest – measure between armpit seems across chest and doubled
- Waist – measure across top of pants and double
- Length – For shirts, measure from bottom of collar to bottom of shirt, for pants measure along side of pants from top of waist to bottom of cuff
- Inseam – measure from crotch seam to bottom of cuff
- Rise – For women’s pants only – measure from crotch seam to top of pants
- Sleeve length – preferred – shoulder seam to bottom of cuff. If there isn’t a shoulder seam, I’ll measure from the pit seam to the cuff. This is usually a few inches shorter though and I try to make it clear that it’s not the normal sleeve length measurement.
- Cuff – measurement of across leg cuff and doubled.
- Shoulder to Shoulder – This is very important for suits. A lot of the other areas can be taken in, but if the shoulder measurement is too tight, there’s nothing a tailor can do.
To make it easier to list, I have some .txt files stored on Dropbox and pinned to my laptop’s taskbar. This lets me copy paste the template into my listing (all just text, no HTML or code) and then I can plug in the measurements that I took in my eBay workspace.
P.S. Don’t worry, I’ll go into a bit more detail in my next eBay Process post with that weird dress.
I am in the Free Shipping crowd. I build the price into my item cost, and it works well for me. There’s a lot of back and forth about it, but no one really knows the right answer.
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, you’ll need to have a rough estimate of how much your item weighs before you list it. This will either be used for calculated shipping for your buyer, it will help you in pricing your item, and it is used in Global Shipping Program international sales.
I don’t know what would happen if the weight was wrong and it was sold GSP. I’m sure it’s happened, but I try to get the number right! Don’t forget to include the weight of a box.
Old columns that I don’t use anymore
When I developed the inventory spreadsheet, I dreamed of using it to calculate all of my tax information. Well, that’s nearly impossible, or at least more work than I want to deal with. Dreams are nice, but it’s the actual use that shows us what we need.
Instead, I’ve just stopped using these price calculations. I track my average cost of goods by including the information in my YNAB purchases (they let you have a memo field – I just include the # of items so I can do an average at the end of the year), and all of my expenses get tracked in GoDaddy Bookkeeping nearly automatically.
I love the newer versions of Microsoft Excel. Changing over from the previous versions was a bit of a shock, but now I couldn’t go back. There are so many features on that handy “ribbon” that I can reach very quickly, where in the past there were multiple layers of clicks that have been completely eliminated.
One of my favorite improvements is the “Cell Styles.” Color coding used to require clicking on the little paint bucket, finding the color you wanted, highlighting the text, and then clicking it again. You’d have to switch colors all the time. It was not ideal. Instead, the cell styles store some of these generic color schemes and lets you select text, select the style, and voila! You now have perfectly colored text! The red (bad), green (good), and yellow (neutral) are my preferred styles.
I use this to designate between listed and non-listed items. When I haven’t listed an item, the whole row remains white. Once I list, I color code it as yellow (the Neutral cell style).
I used to color code sold items as green, but I haven’t updated that in a while. It would be good to clear out the sold items at some point (I’ve benefited from some purging on Facebook. Why not on my eBay inventory list?) and to really evaluate some of the super old items (like over 2 years). I don’t have to deal with them, since they’re already stored but who knows, maybe I should tidy up their listings? I can’t decide if this would be worth the time.
This post is definitely a little longer than I thought it would be, but hopefully, as I dive deeper into the next few steps of the process, the whole picture will be a little clearer. My spreadsheet isn’t perfect, but it does let me be a little more mobile. I’ve used paper and pencil for inventory in the past, and it was a damn mess. This is definitely an improvement!
How do you track your eBay inventory?
Image Credit: Perspecsys Photos