How To Work As An Etsy Seller In A Small Space:  Shipping, Inventory and More!

I have a limited space allocated for my Etsy shop. How do I store all my items and ship out orders with a small area and keep my sanity?

We get it! Most Etsy Sellers are at-home entrepreneurs.  Storing and shipping items can take up so much space.  I’m excited to report there are some easy ways to make it all work in a tight area.

In this article you will learn:

  • How to set up a SPACE-EFFECTIVE shipping station to ship out your orders quickly.
  • Streamline your current inventory area to maximize your space.
  • Implementing Etsy’s SKU feature to use limited space effectively.

#1 Set Up a Shipping Station For The Etsy Sellers

Operating out of my small space of my 400 square foot basement held many challenges.

Here is how I make my shipping area work for me. I try to make the small space I have been given work to my advantage. Although my basement is not attractive it works great for what I need.

As an Etsy Seller you need room when it comes to shipping and processing your sales.  Not only do you need room to store all your shipping supplies such as bubble wrap, boxes, and poly mailers you need a designated area to package up your orders and print your shipping labels.

Shipping Supplies

Here is a short list of shipping supplies I keep on hand on one table. To save space I find it best to keep each item in a designated labeled wall space.

Supply list:

I purchase lots of boxes from Amazon size 10x8x4. This medium size box I use the most when shipping. It’s important to find out your most used box size.

A digital scale is key to calculating your exact weight for shipping. Purchasing your shipping labels from home will save you time and money.

This 24″ wide roll of Kraft paper is a dream for shipping items. Less expensive than bubble wrap, it is a go-to item for shopping breakables.

This paper dispenser is not required when using your craft paper, but it certainly makes things much easier when shipping items.

This Dymo Label Writer 4XL has made printing shipping labels at home a breeze. No ink needed and prints 4×6 shipping labels quickly.

These Buhbo labels work perfectly with the Dymo Label Writer printer.

This plastic wrap /shrink wrap is perfect for shipping breakables. A great safeguard for shipping fragile items. I like to wrap my items in bubble wrap and to keep them secure I apply the shrink wrap.

There are many types of shipping tape to choose from, but this is my personal favorite. I choose this tape as it is very quiet when used.

You need a flexible measuring tape to size your boxes before shipping. A minimally expensive but a needed shipping item to calculate shipping costs.

These bags are perfect for shipping clothing or anything that is lightweight or

Pro Tips: Tips and Tricks To Saving Space

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to keep my shipping area streamlined.

Keep bubble wrap off the floor:

I was constantly bending down to tear off bubble wrap to ship my breakables.  My large rolls of bubble wrap also took up valuable floor space. With the use of a broom stick and a few pegs I was able to lift the bubble wrap off the floor.

If you would rather purchase a roll dispenser there are a few inexpensive options on Amazon. The purchased roll dispensers range in price and size. Find the roll dispenser that fits your space and budget.

Label items:

You will find as you ship out your sold products there are several supplies you need on hand to complete your process. Keeping shipping supplies in labeled containers will help you stay organized. To keep all shipping supplies close by and organized designate a small bin for each item. Packing tape, scissors, to measuring tape these supplies are needed to have their own home in any small area.

Keep computer at eye level:

To reduce eye strain and save your back it’s best to keep your computer at eye level. When shipping your sold items you may find yourself on your feet the whole time. It’s best to keep your computer at eye level to avoid strain.

Organized your boxes:

To save space and time be sure to stack all like-sized boxes together. Whether you order your boxes online or rely on donations keeping your box area organized can help simplify your shipping process as well as saves you valuable space.

#2 Streamline Your Etsy Inventory

As I grew so did my need for more storage space. I have tried several inventory methods over the past 7 years while selling on Etsy. The ONE system that saved me endless time and valuable space will be outlined in this article.

How Much Room Do You Need To Store Etsy Inventory?

It’s ok to start small and add storage as you go. For my shop I purchased more tote boxes as my inventory expanded.  As my shop reached over 300 items, I switched over to the long box system which I’ll cover in detail in this article.

Spoiler alert!  The Box system doubled my inventory space and saves me hours of time weekly.

The Start of An Inventory System

When I first started selling on Etsy years ago, I started with three large plastic bins/tote boxes for storage. Here is a rundown of what I used these 3 bins for in my shop.   One tote box would hold all my incoming items, One tote box held all the items listed in my shop, and the third tote box held all my shipping supplies.

The tote box system above ultimately failed. Why did this system fail?

The biggest issue with plastic tote boxes is storage. Most of the tote boxes today are taller than you need them to be. If you are working with a small space you need to maximize every inch of your inventory area.

How to Set Up a Space Saving Box System For Inventory

The Box System for Inventory

This box system is the system I currently use for my shop.

I highly recommend this inventory method. Whether you have 4 items or 400 items, this system works well. It has enabled me to find my sold items in seconds. Made famous by eBay seller Christopher Lin of Daily Refinement, this is my go-to way of storing inventory.

With the use of sturdy, long boxes, labels for SKU number management, and clear poly bags, I have found that I have never lost a sold item to date. This system has saved me time and stress when shipping my sold items weekly.

Supplies needed for The Box Inventory System

There are three basic items you need for this inventory system: the boxes, the labels and the bags.

How It Works

The best way to show you how this system works is to show you a step-by-step outline of the workflow process. Follow along below as I show you how I set up and use this inventory system.

Step-By-Step: Using the Box System

Think about your process.

An example of this inventory box process would look like this:

  1. Take one item from your pile that needs to be listed.
  2. Photograph all angels of your item for a potential buyer.  (Etsy allows up to 10 photos)
  3. Add a numerical sticker label to the inside middle of the bag. This number is your SKU number. When this item sells you will be so happy to have put this SKU number in place.
  4. Place your item into a poly bag.
  5. Put your item on a digital scale to obtain the weight for shipping purposes.
  6. Add your item to the back of the box.
  7. REPEAT.


Get all information in one photograph for your records.

Listing your product faster with the following tip!

Digitally record the weight and SKU with a photo! For your last product photograph take this lasts shot. By photographing all the information you need in one picture on your phone there is no need to take notes for listing your posting at a later date. After you take your last product photo of your item you want to take one last picture for your records.  Take a photo of the item on a digital scale showing the weight of the item. Also be sure to photograph the item’s SKU sticker as well. This digital photo is used as your notes for the item when posting to your shop. WHAT A TIME SAVER!!

#3 How to Use Etsy’s SKU Feature To Maximize Space

A key to saving valuable space:

Keep things tightly, stacked, numbered and organize”  

Lisa Lividoti

When I started many years ago, I would pile my listed shop items in a large plastic bin. 

Each tote box was numbered however, each individual item WAS NOT numbered.

The problem:  Wasted Space and time

I found I had a lot of empty space in my tall plastic tote boxes.   I simply numbered each tote box and kept a massive pile of product in each tote.  This wasted so much space. In addition, it was time-consuming to shuffle through this big bin and find my sold item. If the numbers were individually numbered I could pull them to ship much faster.

The solution: SKU issued to each item

 I utilized Etsy’s SKU feature for each individual item and I converted to the long cardboard box system.  This solution not only kept my items stacked and numbered but also saved me a lot of space.

What is an Etsy SKU anyway?

SKU is a Stock Keeping Unit code that you assign for each item in your inventory.

The SKU number you assign is a unique number for each product you sell.

SKU numbers are a great way to track and code your massive pile of items in your shop to find them quickly and easily once they sell.

Below is a summary of how I use Etsy’s SKU codes. The SKU code can be created for every listing you create.

How to add SKU numbers to your listings

To add SKU numbers to your listings:

  1. In Etsy add or edit a listing in your Shop Manager.
  2. Scroll down to inventory and pricing. (Found under the TAGS section)
  3. Add an SKU next to SKU.
  4. Once you’re done, click Publish.

In Conclusion

Most Etsy Sellers start off with a small square footage of space at the start of their selling journey.  It does not have to be stressful or overwhelming if you learn a few key tricks to staying organized.  With a streamlined inventory system, the use of Etsy’s SKU system and the right shipping station you can smash Etsy sales records with your shop.   HAPPY SELLING!

Written by Lisa

Lisa Lividoti Blogger and Owner of Homebyliv Etsy Shop

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