How Do You Track and Organize Inventory?
Is there an easy way to track your inventory as an Online Seller? When I first started selling online “tracking inventory” was a big topic. In fact, at this time according to a small business report 43 % of small businesses don’t track their inventory at all, or are even using manual processes. As an online seller I found that keeping track of your inventory is key to a successful business.
Can you find an item easily once it’s sold?
When I started selling on Etsy my goal was to reach 100 listing in my shop. I reached that goal within 6 months. I was so excited to reach my goal. Then the sales started coming in. My phone gave out that sweet sound of cha-ching . The beautiful handmade quilt I bought at an estate sale sold. The next step was to find my item and ship it out. Where is my newly sold quilt in inventory?
The fun began.
Ask yourself, how do you find an item in your pile of items once someone purchases it from your online store? I went to the experts for my answers and it changed the way I organized my items for sale.
READ ON to find out how some very successful sellers have tackled this challenge.
Some Tips From Seasoned Sellers
I reached out to some seasoned sellers to find out what worked for them.
Here’s the scoop on what some veteran sellers have learned over the years regarding their store inventory.
Tip #1: STAY EXTREAMLY ORGANIZED
Staying organized seemed to be the big tip from our sellers. Nina from Happy boxing tells me “ When I’m done creating something, everything goes back when it belongs and that alone saves time.” She also tells me “ I am an extremely organized person so everything has a place, neatly stored in a dust free environment. I have lots of plastic bins that stack.”
Another seller tip to us is to box up her item before it sells. Kris of Eitherorfinds tells us
“ When I list an item I also box it up, label it, and stack it in either my shed or garage.” As a seller myself I like this tip. I sell vintage items with various sizes so it would be difficult to pre-box my inventory however, if you sell items that are similar in size this technique could work like a charm.
Tip #2: Group Your Items
Inventory is not exclusive to your finished listed products. Your inventory can also include the supplies needed to make your product. One seller has told me it helps to group her items in bins.
Barbara of Topdrwyarnds shared this tip with us. “ For my handmade items inventory, I store my items loosely in totes labeled rugs, hat, etc. For my material inventory, I have the yard/fabric strips sorted by color.”
I enjoyed this tip as well. As a vintage seller I found that the more I bought the more I could group in bins. For example, I started buying vintage hats. As soon as I had 4 vintage hats in my shop I created a separate bin for hats.
Tip #3: Invest in Bins/Totes
I have seen that for most experienced sellers I talked with all shared their love of plastic totes/bins. Honestly I cannot image keeping my inventory without these amazing bins. My personal tip here is to invest a few dollars in dry erase whiteboard sheets. I buy these sheets on Amazon. The item is called “Whiteboard Contact Paper Dry Erase” for only $9.99 a roll. It’s a great peal and stick roll of sheets you can write on with a dry erase pen. I used this contact paper on the 15 large clear tote boxes I own and this roll still had more product to spare. I add this contact paper to the front of every inventory totes I own. All items placed into that totes are listed on the tote cover with dry erase and once an item sells you just easily wipe off the item description leaving room for the next item that will be placed in the tote. I love that the writing does not smuge easliy and it wipes off simply. Genius! CHECK IT OUT!
Dawnie from Fabflatwarefinds tells us “ I so love plastic totes , as they are a great way for me to organize my pieces. Each pattern gets it’s own tote, and for my flatware, each tote has a label on the end to tell me what in in that tote. I have also used numbers on the end of the tote”
Tip # 5: Use A Spreadsheet
Keeping a master spreadsheet is a great way to keep your entire inventory on paper all in one area. Ness from VintageCatTastrophe tells us about her system.
Ness has over 3,000 items in inventory. Here is what she tells us about her system.
“I manage my inventory with a crazy elaborate brain-numbing spreadsheet. Every item has an inventory number, description, cost, date, sell price, where I bought it, etc. Once cleaned, photographed and listed they are stored in lots of clear bins that separate like items with like items.”
Tip #5: Pre Package Before The Sale
I see the value and timesavings in prepackaging your items to be ready to ship once sold. Barbara of EmptyNestVintage tells us how she makes this work.
“When I list my items I package and weigh them and assign them all with an inventory number. I then place the item in my ready to ship out room. This inventory number is affixed to the box and I also add it to the listing info. Then, when I make a sale all I have to do is run to the basement, look at the box, bring it upstairs, apply my label and away it goes to the post office. ”
I have to say Barbara runs a tight ship and I love that she is so organized. I can even take her plan a step further. I avoid her last step of going to the post office and have my mail carrier pick up my shipments at my front door. Imagine selling an item, boxing it up, and stepping two steps out your front door and puting your boxes in a tote box to be picked up by your mail carrier? This process happens for me every week and I can show you how this all works. It’s easy! Take a peek at our last posted article on this site entitled How to schudule a FREE USPS pickup right at your front door.
The Wrap Up
Feeling overwelmed with large amounts of inventory is normal. Learning how to store and organize your items is key. Storing and finding your merchadise does not need to be stressful. With tricks like using clear platic labeled storage bins, pre-packaing your inventory before it sells, or even logging items into a master spreadsheet can keep your business right on track.