Within a year of dropping out of college I was able to move out of my parents house and get my own apartment because of the money I was making on ebay.
Here are two shots of what my room looked like at my parents house while my business was growing:
This is what my bedroom looks like now in my new apartment:
The comparisons are night and day. Before I moved felt like I was in an episode of Hoarders when I was in my bedroom, but now I feel relaxed when I’m in my room thanks to my organization system.
Living in a messy space adds extra stress to our lives, and can also increase anxiety. The consequences of messy ebay inventory are even worse. When my room was a disaster I used to misplace items a lot and would spend hours a week trying to find them. I usually did find the things that I was looking for, but I wasted a lot of time in the process.
Now I very rarely misplace things thanks to my inventory system because I know exactly where things are. Having this system will not only make your business five times more efficient, but it will also significantly lessen the stress of running an ebay business.
Thankfully, implemeting an inventory system is straightforward and doesn’t require many things.
How to make an inventory system
The best tools are the simplest and easiest to use. I am a pragmatist and wholeheartedly agree with Occam’s Razor- the simplest solutions are the most effective.
Shelving is really all you need to have a good inventory system. With shelving you have space to store similar things together. If you do decide to buy shelving through the link (which I would greatly appreciate) make sure your room is high enough for the shelves (mine are about 8.5″ tall).
I have almost 1000 things listed on ebay (I’ll cross the mark by the end of this week). But thanks to my storage system it only takes me about an hour or so a week to find all the things that I need to ship and then package them up (for reference I usually ship about 30 to 40 things a week.)
Since I almost excuslively sell clothing, my inventory system is a straightforward bin system. After I list my clothing I put it into a self-sealing 12?x15? clear bag to keep it clean and compact. I then put the bagged piece of clothing into a labeled bin. I record the bin numbers while I’m measuring the clothing, and then put the number at the end of the title like this:
When the item sells I then go to the correct bin and look for the piece of clothing. Since the bags are clear it is easy to find what I’m looking for. I then put the piece of clothing in a poly-mailer, weigh the packages, and then print the shipping labels.
My inventory system is as simple as some shelving and bins, and it works great my 1000 pieces of clothing. I’ve found these bins to store the clothing because they fit perfectly in the shelving. Last, I label a piece of paper with a number with a Sharpie and then tape it onto the bin.
What if you don’t sell clothing.. Can you still have a good inventory system? Absolutely! In this case you can simply put similar things in the bins (electronics, toys, video games, bags, sporting goods), or just put similar things next to each other on the shelves. Remember any system is better than no system! A simple inventory system can be different locations for different items- one shelf could be for toys, one could be for shoes, and another could be for books.
When we’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of items we’re going to misplace one eventually. What can we do after we realize that we misplaced something? Of course the best remedy for this problem is prevention- we can lessen mistakes by being mindful while we work. But the only answer to losing something is to try and find it! I’ve put wrong bins numbers in the title by accident and then I have to dig through different bins to find the piece of clothing (another reason why clear polybags are perfect for storing clothing). I record all of my measurements and bin numbers in notebooks because I like writing. Sometimes going back to these notebooks gives clues to what bins the clothing actually is. It sucks to misplace things and to have to spend time finding them, so we must be careful while recording the bin numbers. I’ve only lost 4 things out of the thousands that I’ve shipped.
An inventory system will make your life infinitely easier than just throwing your items randomly on a shelf. Be sure to read the first three posts and see what the other essential tools are. And stay tuned for the final part (part 5)!