Here at the beginning of a new year, it is a good time to review how your holiday season went. Did you know where all your items were? Did you have to cancel an order because you already sold the item somewhere else? If so — before you head off into that bright new year; let’s take some time to think about better ways to manage your inventory.
Here’s 5 steps you should take now:
1. Designate a spot for the inventory. If you are like most online sellers, you have a home based business and keep your inventory in your house. We all know that this takes up a lot of valuable living space, so I want you to take some time right now and think about how you store your inventory. Is it scattered all over the house? Does it take up valuable space in the dining room? If so, it’s time to relocate that inventory and get it into one or two central locations. You might want to dedicate a closet for the smaller items, or maybe consider transforming that spare bedroom into your new home office. Some online sellers convert their garages into mini warehouses, so if space is a problem — think outside the box. It really doesn’t matter where you store your inventory as long as you have easy access to it and can find the items when you need them.
2. Assign specific areas for your inventory. Once you know where you will store your items, it’s time to organize them into designated areas. Keep the items in five or six areas based on where they are in the listing process. You should have a space designated for items you “need to list,” “already listed,” “sold,” and “waiting to ship.” You may also want to designate a spot where you can pull the items for when someone buys something, but hasn’t paid you for it yet.
3. Consider the “flow” of the items in your workspace. Set the area up to where it moves like an assembly line. Items should move from “Need to List,” to the area where you photograph, measure and weigh them (if needed). Place the item on a shelf or in a tote box.Once you are done listing the item you won’t have to touch it again until it sells. If you have brought items into the house to send to the warehouse for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you can still use the same type of process to ready your items for shipping.
4. Determine how you will track your items. There are many different ways to keep up with inventory. If you are a smaller seller you can use a simple spreadsheet, write the items on index cards, or keep up with the items in a notebook. Many serious online sellers prefer to track their inventory electronically and use Vendio. Vendio actually includes inventory tracking, including sharing your inventory across channels.
5. Move out the old inventory to bring in the new. Ask a group of online sellers how long you should hold onto an item and you will hear a 100 different answers. Some people hold onto merchandise for years and years, while others want to clear out the inventory after it has sat there for just a few months. There really is no right or wrong answer to how long to keep something, but once you decide how long you are comfortable keeping your items, you need to stick to your plan on how you will handle it when the time is up.
If items aren’t selling, consider reducing the price to clear the items out, group the items together and sell them as a lot, or add small single items as free gifts when someone buys something similar in nature. If you have accounted for the weight of the item in your shipping, it really won’t cost you anything, but you should get some wonderful feedback from the lucky recipient who purchased from you and got a free gift.