Seeing my online business grow over the years has be fantastic. A learn-as-you go endeavor. As the orders came in so did my need to keep tabs on my inventory. What is the best way to track what you have in stock and how do you find something quickly once it sells?
We interviewed some of Etsy’s TOP SELLERS and asked them how they organize their inventory. What we discovered may surprise you! Read on…. These top sellers may have a trick or two you have not thought of you can use for your shop.
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 keeping track of your inventory is key to a successful business.
Ask yourself, how do you find an item in your pile of items once someone purchases it from your 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 tackles this challenge.
Some Tips From Seasoned Sellers
The stress of struggling to find a sold item from my online shop led me to believe that there had to be a better way of tracking my inventory. 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 EXTREMELY 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 Topdraweryarns 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 a certain item I buy on Amazon. The item is called “Whiteboard Contact Paper Dry Erase” for only $8.48 a roll. It’s a great peal and stick roll of sheets you can write on with a dry erase pen. 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. Genius!
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 #4: 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. Take a peek at our last posted article on this site entitled “How to Schedule a Free USPS Package Pickup Right At Your Front Door.“
BONUS TIP! Using an SKU field
I recently started using Etsy’s SKU tags to each of my listings. Etsy added this SKU filed to the “Add A New Listing” their template in February 2017. Now finding my items in my sea of inventory is a breeze.
No more “Panic Mode” when an item sells from my shop. What I love about this feature is that this SKU filed is for the sellers eyes only. That’s right, only you can see the code not your customers.
What is an SKU anyways? Well, an SKU is a Stock Keeping Unit code that you assign for each item in your inventory. A great way to track and code your massive pile of items in your shop to find them quickly and easily. Below is a brief summary of how I use Etsy’s SKU code. The SKU code can be found in every listing you create.
I found if I was easiest to first batch 10 items at a time and list them to my shop. Then, I go back in and assign an SKU to each item as I place it into my inventory bins. My bins are all located in my basement or in “Etsyland” as my husband affectionally calls it.
My SKU Steps
I list the items first
- I post my items one-by-one in Etsy using ” add a new listing” in the Shop Manager. I work in batches of 10 items.
- Once all 10 items are listed I decide where each item will go in my inventory.
- I bring the items into my inventory room and start to put the items away.
Posting and Creating the SKU
- As I put the items away in the proper clear tote box I open the listing on my laptop. Click on SHOP MANAGER and then LISTINGS and find the item you are putting away.
- Scroll down to the SKU field and enter in your SKU code.
- My code is usually by box number such as B1, B2, B3. **Tip** To find this SKU field quickly in the listing just scroll down the open listing and look for the TAGS. The list of tags stand out. Right below the tags you will see the SKU field.
- Click PUBLISH.
- When the items sells I can easily check this SKU field to find where the item is located in my inventory. The system works very well.
- Lastly, an other way to use your SKU number sequence is to base it on the product itself. A great example of using SKU by product is placing the size in front of the product and or the color. An example of this would be if you have different size and color blankets you could enter the SKU as LGBlue, LGRed, LGBlue, etc. Get as creative as you would like to make inventory a breeze.
Our sellers have shared some great nuggets of wisdom from what they have learned about tackling their inventory. From organizing clear bins and using whiteboards to grouping their items for easy storage and quick mail outs.
These sellers have even shared with us how they round up their inventory with elaborate master spreadsheets and optimize the SKU field in Etsy. I hope you can take some insparation from their experience and maybe even try a trick or two from what they have shared.
YOU CAN DO IT!