Whether you’re an eBay, Etsy or Amazon seller, it’s easy for your inventory and shipping supplies to dominate your house or apartment. However, organized chaos isn’t a great look for your living room or spare bedroom. Here are some ways you can get your at-home, shipping-dependent business under control.
1. Find a space: You should designate one room or closet to your business, not portions of multiple rooms. This may be hard if you live in a small apartment, so you may need to consider renting a storage unit, but generally you can find a space to clear out and dedicate to your business. This space should be able to hold your shipping supplies, products and invoice system. If you have a room for this purpose, you should consider moving your desk in there to make working a one-stop shop.
2. Organize it: Your boxes shouldn’t be on the floor, and your products should be properly stored to avoid breakage or damage from the elements. If you’re working out of a closet, collapse all of your boxes and stack them vertically against the wall. If you’ve got a room, bale and pile the boxes in one area. If your products have standard packaging, pre-package them before storing them in labeled drawers or bins. Bins are best for closets, while large plastic drawers from stores like Wal-Mart work well for rooms, as you can easily see what is in them. You can also repurpose old jars and kitty litter containers to hold supplies and put them on shelves that you can install up to the ceiling. No matter what method you use, everything should have its own space. Don’t forget a place to put your packing tape, labels and shipping inserts!
Your invoices can easily be stored in an ingoing/outgoing box, or you can do invoice management on your computer. Depending on where you sell your items, you should keep hard copies of your sales information for a year for tax purposes. This is especially important on eBay, where sellers often make so many sales that finding data can be cumbersome. Don’t forget to keep information such as the item number, bidder contact information, the sale price, how much you paid in fees, how the item was paid for and if you had to make any refunds or there were problems with the item.
3. Manage it: One way to double-check your inventory is not only to keep note of it on your computer, but recount it once a week and attach Post-Its with updated numbers to each space/drawer. Don’t move your products around in a fit of organization one day unless you finish the project that day or else you risk losing track of part of your inventory.
4. Send it: The most efficient way to ship your products is in batches. If you can ship your items that way, create an assembly line. Start by assembling the number of boxes you need. Then stuff those boxes with products. If the products are different, go box by box and add address information and seal them. Once you’ve sealed them, pile them in a specific place until they are ready to be shipped. If you can’t use an assembly line method, then only pull out one box at a time to ensure that you don’t lose track of what you’re doing. No matter what, put away all of your supplies after you’re done with packaging.
5. Clean it out: Every quarter, you should go back through everything and make sure that you’re not hanging on to anything that you don’t need. Files should be put into cabinets after the quarter is over for more secure storage. Broken products should be accounted for, and you can tackle any remaining clutter from your selling frenzy.
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