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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Mon July 25 2011 15:25:29

How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
Julia Wilkinson's article in Sunday's newsletter about how online sellers deal with storing inventory struck a nerve with readers. A named Judy wrote, "Your article about Storing your Ebay Items really hit home with me. As I am sure it did with many other at-home sellers. Could you do a follow-up article on the next step?

"How to store each item for easy retrieval? For example, do you have a tub or shelf for each category of item (like all cruets go in one tub?) or do you have a tub for each month you list?

"And once you list the item do you print the listing page to the item? Or make a spreadsheet? Obviously, I haven't come up with a good way to do this! Would love to hear what others are doing."

What tips do you have on dealing with organizing and storing your inventory? Shelving and containers can be expensive, do you have any favorite sources or great stories on picking up cheap storage units? And let us know what kind of follow-up articles would be helpful to your business.



Comments (13) | Permalink
Readers Comments

How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
This user has validated their user name. by: basset
       
Mon Jul 25 16:25:42 2011
This is the system for my smaller eBay store that primarily sells pre-owned & vintage clothing. Very basic & no-frills but has worked well for me so far. I use Excel for spreadsheet purposes & all is kept in a single binder or file drawer until tax time:

All incoming inventory coded by brand & listed on its own tab with date & purchase price. Receipts filed.

Inventory is placed in a closet in the home office that is dedicated to the business. I have enough turnover that I seldom run out of room. Alphabetized by brand.

Spreadsheet also has tabs for each month that show Brand Code, item name& info, ebay # & price paid, also buyer info & sale price info if item sells that month. Items not sold get carried over to a new tab for the following month's inventory. Incoming inventory also gets added to the current month's sheet, as it is listed.

As items sell, the PayPal receipt is printed & my copy of the shipping label info is placed on the back of the PP receipt. I have a file folder for each month's sales receipts where they stay until the end of the year.

At the end of the month all expense & cost of goods sold receipts are located for the month just ended & put in a manila envelope labeled for that month, eBay and PayPal fees totals are printed for that month & hole punched & put in binder.

Another dedicated tab on the spreadsheet carries total monthly sales, total expenses for the month, PayPal fees, eBay fees, and any contributions. This is printed out at end of year & kept with tax papers & mileage booklet.

End of Year inventory gets the last tab on the spreadsheet of the old year and 1st tab of a new year.

Quarterly Estimated tax receipts are also copied each quarter along with USPS tracking copy showing it was received by IRS. These are kept in the binder also.

That's about it - very basic, not fancy but it seems to work for me & the accountant has not seemed to find my system lacking so far.

How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Jim S. This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 25 17:02:18 2011
I fortunately have a large basement where I have a finished office as well as my inventory and shipping area. I group my larger items by MFG on PVC shelving and my smaller items by SKU in bins on special shelving that stores 76 bins. The inventory shelves surround the shipping area for easy picking and shipping material storage.
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Mon Jul 25 17:22:31 2011
Wire racks from Costco (similar to the ones in your picture) and desktop organizers and craft/hobby organizers (from Staples, Kmart, and most arts/crafts stores).

The top shelves are reserved for supplies like bubble envelopes and USPS boxes that I use everyday.

I buy supplies and inventory in bulk to save a little bit, and I only keep enough in the home office for what I'll need. The extras are stored in the garage.

Most things are labeled with removable address label stickers. They stay put for as long as I need them to, but when I occasionally need to change the labels, they peel off nicely without making a mess.

After all... ''An office that looks efficient, is efficient!'' :-)
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
       Web Site
Mon Jul 25 21:19:58 2011
Egg cartons :)
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: PlaywithHair This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Tue Jul 26 00:19:06 2011
Hey there!

We have over 4000 seperate items, so we have custom built shelving from floor to ceiling - Then on most shelves we have boxes which we use like a drawer, and we write on the box what is in there. We also number the boxes for easy reference, and we have an excel spreadsheet telling us where everything is by name and colour - Sometimes a sneaky item or two goes awol and it can take a long time to find, but generally this makes life a lot easier.

We also try and keep things together by brand, and then alphabetical order - or similar items in the same spot when alphabetical doesn't work.

We are moving to some new inventory software called Retail Manager from MYOB which we will be using in future and we hope that makes life easier too!
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Jim
       Web Site
Tue Jul 26 06:17:29 2011
We use wire racks from Costco (similar to the ones in your picture) and see through Sterilite 58 qt tubs from Wal-Mart.  We set the shelves at a distance to allow one tub to slide easy in and out using only the bottoms. We put a label on each tub numbering them.

We went to local hardware store and obtained a threaded coupling so we can stack two sets of the wire racks.  We put lighter items in the high tubs and use a fold up step stool/ladder to reach the top bins. With the shelf spacing you can slide them out 3/4 of the way and the top hold them in like a drawer.

On CDs/DVDs we purchased wire racks (on Amazon) that are made for that purpose which will hold 1,500+.  We have divider tabs that are labeled A-Z (http://www.shopgetorganized.com/item/dvd_dividers/27350).  We file them based upon the catalog title so when it sells we know where to look for it. Like a library book.

In eBay we use the non-published item tag to indicate where the item is located and the purchase price of the item.  For example the item tag ''Bin45 2.99'' tells us that the item is in Bin 45 and we paid $2.99 for it.

The purpose of the ''clear'' bins is to allow you to see where the item is located in the bin so you do not have to dump everything out.  For books we lay them flat with the splines to the outside so we can easy see which stack and were in the bin the book is located.
This seams to work real well for us.

How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Sayre's Stash
       Web Site
Tue Jul 26 07:51:34 2011
The majority of our inventory are books. Those being sold are on shelves my husband made in alphabetical order. We have 4 different venues we sell in so this has made it easier to find the books as they sell. We also have 4 totes & 10 plastic shoe boxes of misc. things we sell on Ebay and those are labeled with a list of what is in each tote in Excel. My next project is organizing all of our book inventory that is not yet listed. That will definitely be a challenge because there are over 4000 books and I'd like to be able to find what I need when someone requests one that is not online. Any suggestions? Thanks!
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Departing seller
       
Tue Jul 26 18:38:33 2011
I have a 18'x 50' garage office conversion which houses the main office and shipping facility in one half and merchandise storage in the other.
Custom made wooden shelving holds all of my Amazon, eCrater, Bonanzle, and web site merchandise.
Amazon has it's own section sorted by media format alphabetically.  All other venues share shelving space organized in a similar manner.

In the darkest corner of the storage room is a wastebasket.  That's where I keep my eBay inventory.
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Just Me
       
Tue Jul 26 22:48:31 2011
My stock started out in large boxes in my livingroom.  That was quickly nixed and the boxes moved into the garage (after the cars moved out, never to return).  Initially just stacked, that quickly was replace by steel shelving units 18x36x72, bolted together for stability.  Boxed shoes could easily be racked for storage and retrieval.

As growth continued, we moved everything into rental storage (those self-lock units).  Access 6am to midnight, video surveillance, and tall chain link fence was good enough for me.  And the units were pretty new and very clean.

Start with a single 10x20, ended up a few years later with 5 units totally 1200 sq ft.  Incoming in these two large units.  In process sorted here.  Listed racked in these two units.  And the last unit, were we did the pre-sort processing, was mostly bulk shipping supplies - boxes and peanuts.

Pre-sort seperated the shoes to be listed from the shoes to be returned - I was consignment selling, so anything not worth the time simply went back.  About 50% went back.

Still had a few racks in the garage, along with the imaging setup, a PC for image download and editing, and my packing/shipping layout, when my 50+ boxes for FedEx Ground would sit twice a week, waiting for pickup.  USPS had fewer boxes and were picked up the day after FedEx Ground.

Moving out to the rental space was the best move we made.  It turned out home back into a home (except for the home office and garage) and kept my business "out of sight, nearly out of mind" for my wife. :)

When my client upgraded their odd-lot stock area, we received something around $5000 worth of steel shelving, just for taking it away.  We also received several packing stations that were being redesigned, and parts of a dozen or so cubicles - work tables, lights, etc.

Didn't have room to set everything up right away, but within a year it was all in use and we probably could have used more!  :)

-Bob.
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
       Web Site
Sat Jul 30 11:39:34 2011
I have my items organize in boxes. The duplicates items separate from the non-duplicates. Also I create an Inventory Excel Sheet to know what I have to offer.
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Rick
       Web Site
Wed Aug 3 06:09:48 2011
Organizing the inventory is most tedious for any business having stock of products that they are going to offer. It should be kept in a place where it can be easily managed, and also you can designed the software or system based on the process you follow for the type of products you are handling inventory for. Once you have such application, it would it all be easy for you to manage.
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: ahumin
       
Wed Aug 3 19:48:08 2011
I have about 6,000 listings with some listings having 10 or more pieces (I mostly sell china).  I have about 200 18''  boxes that I use as shelves (my son-in-law got these for me at work and we nailed them together 5 high in rows along the wall and then back to back rows in the center) and I file alphabetically within those boxes.  When I sell several pieces of china -- 10+ pcs, I put them in a box and store each set in a labeled box on shelves in an 16' X 12' storage shed my boyfriend built me (everyone should have a boyfriend like that).  I then have a list of all the china I have in there on an excel list in alphabetical order so I check that list to see if the item(s) in there are in my regular file.  More recently, I added an additional system that I'm using to augment my current system for smaller or single items.  I have bins starting with A1, A2, etc. for the first month of 2011 and then I go on to B1, B2, etc. for the second month, etc.  The intent is to be able to know how long this inventory has been hanging around and then after a year or so I can make the decision whether I still want to keep the item listed or sell it at a tag sale or some other way.  I think this might work well but I just started this system.  
How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?   How Do You Organize and Store Your Inventory?
by: Danni Ackerman This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Feb 4 13:23:13 2013
Listed inventory goes out to the garage on shelves.  I organize by type of items as I tend to sell many of the same "type" for instance animal figurines.  I sort by type of animal so I have a dog shelf, a cat shelf, a cow shelf, etc...  glass is sorted by vases, bowls, other items... so when I go to find something that sold I just go to that shelf.
For plush and things needing to stay clean tubs are my friend!
Unlisted items are in tubs and then staged by type on shelves in my office so I can grab the same type items to list at the same time.  Once written up they go out to the garage on my "photo shelf" , once pics are taken they are moved to the listed shelves by type.
This system has worked well for me for a decade.
I'm enjoying reading everyone else's methods as I always love new ideas!


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