An online business is as real as any other business – so why not treat it that way? When I first started reselling over 25 years ago, I never considered it a real business. It was just a fun way to help pay some bills, and to make some extra money. I had no idea how to run a business, nor did I think anyone could even make a business out of reselling in the first place. I was just selling odds and ends from around the house.
Things have changed drastically from back in those days. I have now been a full-time reseller for well over a decade, and run my business just as any brick-and-mortar traditional business would. I have had the luxury, though, of working as a general manager, and then as a regional manager for a national company for almost 20 years of my life. In that time, I was able to learn all the ins and outs of running a successful business.
Once I started reselling online full-time, it did not take long to realize the advantages of using the practices and methods used in Corporate America to advance my own business. There is a reason why businesses do things a specific way. They have spent millions of dollars figuring out what works best, and how to maximize their profits. So, why not take advantage of what has already been proven to work? Reselling, after all, is as real of a business as any other one out there, so you should treat it as such. Some very simple practices used by most businesses can help to drastically improve most online resellers’ business, and lives.
One of the first practices I adopted was a storage and labeling system for all of my merchandise that was listed for sale on eBay. When I started off listing items, I never thought about storage or labeling them so that I could find an item easily once I sold it.
I only had a limited number of items up, and I figured, how hard could it really be to find an item? But, as time went on, and I listed more and more items, I soon realized I was spending a lot of my time trying to find items I wanted to ship.
One day after spending nearly an hour trying to find a postcard I needed to ship, I had finally had enough. After packing up all of my items to mail out that day, I ended up spending the next day and a half labeling and sorting through every item I had. I even went through all of my listings and added their storage location in to each one. That one single practice has saved me more time than I could have ever imagined.
Another practice I have used, almost as long as storage and inventory labeling, is keeping an accurate count of all of my supplies that I use for my business. We ship out packages several times a day, six days a week – and there was nothing worse than running out of boxes, printer ink, or address labels at the last minute.
Many times I would be rushing to get everything packed up before the Post Office showed up, only to find out I did not have enough boxes. When that happened, it meant a trip to the store to get more boxes, and then a second trip to the Post Office to drop off the items not boxed and ready, when the U.S. Postal employee showed up earlier.
Taking a simple inventory of everything I use has greatly lowered my costs, and has saved me a lot of wasted time. If I am low on boxes, tape, printer ink (or any other item when I am taking inventory) I simply order more before they run out. I also always try to take inventory, or place orders on the same day every week, and bulk order everything I can from one source.
With many items, the more you purchase at one time the lower the price will be. Boxes are a prime example of that, and are also one of the biggest costs associated with shipping, in general. With boxes, I can order a whole pallet from a manufacturer, and split that up between several other sellers I know, which drastically lowers my shipping expenses. Depending on the quantity purchased, I can save 40% or 50% off the cost of buying them at a store.
I have also learned from my past experiences that it is always good to have at least one backup of everything you need to run your business. When I use the last one of something, I will order another one then.
I have extras of everything, including scanners and cameras, which was something I financially could not do until the last five or six years. I exclusively use DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras to take photos of items when needed, which can cost a considerable amount of money.
Once, I had an issue with one of my cameras and had to send it off in the mail to have an authorized dealer service it, so that I would not void my warranty. The camera was gone for over three weeks. If that was the only way I could have taken photos, I could have been unable to list any new items until it came back.
These are just some of the basic practices and methods big business uses, and ones that I would personally recommend all resellers practice. I personally wished I had started out using them in the very beginning of my reselling journey. My business would have been doing far better much earlier, and I would have been much happier.
As your business grows, you will be able to take advantage of many more business strategies, which I will discuss in a future column.