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Tue Dec 18 2012 17:07:07

Efficiencies for eBay and Amazon Shipping Crunch Time

By: Julia Wilkinson

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This time of year, a lot of us feel like a one-armed paper hanger, processing more sales than we're used to (hopefully) and still doing all the other extra tasks the holidays bring. (Consider the frantically sewing Etsy seller Ina blogged about recently). Sellers chatting online about ways to pack and ship more efficiently mentioned doing things like having a shipping station with all their materials in one place. Some had boxes and envelopes organized by size. Others agree their inventory needs to be similarly organized as well. I'm wondering what your best efficiency tips for this time of year are? Or do you pretty much just work longer hours the same way?

One method that has helped me a lot with items I ship on Amazon is to store inventory by subject matter or type of item, then alphabetically within that box, similar to how a bookstore is divided into subject sections. (Book stores....anyone?). For example, I keep all the magazines in one box, catalogs in another, travel/local history in still another, etc.

This talk of efficiency made me think of "Four-Hour" bookselling wunderkind Tim Ferriss, whose blog has all kinds of fun marketing strategies for anyone selling books, or, really anything. I first heard of Ferriss from someone at an eBay Live convention (while we're being nostalgic, remember those?). He was so enthusiastic, I just had to get "The 4-Hour Workweek," which was a #1 New York Times bestseller and spawned a whole bunch of other "4-Hour" books, including his latest, The 4-Hour Chef. (Yep, I didn't expect a cookbook from him either). 

Among some of the best efficiency tips in "Workweek," in my opinion, were batching tasks (performing similar tasks all at once to avoid time-wasting setup for each) and outsourcing ("remove yourself as a bottleneck"). There are a lot of other ideas in there, including getting a business so automated it practically runs itself so you can take mini-retirements. Ferriss, for example, took off enough time at one point to become an expert in tango and entered the Tango World Championship in Buenos Aires.

I'm not going to go that far, but on a smaller scale I've implemented some of Ferriss's tips. But though I've outsourced research for my books, I haven't been able to bring myself to outsource shipping, as one seller mentioned she does to save time. I'm too worried something won't get bubble-wrapped well enough, for example, and I'll have an epic refund case on my hands.

What things do you do to be more efficient, especially at this time of year? Do you batch tasks? And would you trust your shipping to someone else? Post a comment here!




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Efficiencies for eBay and Amazon Shipping Crunch Time   Efficiencies for eBay and Amazon Shipping Crunch Time

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Wed Dec 19 18:31:04 2012

No efficiency here.

Sometimes it takes me an hour to discover where I placed that item that sold.

Really, if someone has a method that doesn't take up too much room, or require much storage hardware, I'm all noses.

At this point, I'm organized around the categories I sell.

I tried a date starting/ending method, but that became unworkable due to the different sized articles & trying to organize them sequentially.

So far, I've managed to organize my postcards by using the "custom label" feature of eBay, but making it more generic to my methodology and having a database which I can reference.

I'm applying that methodology to other categories of items which seems to be working.

The worst part is trying to remember where all the 'odd' stuff hangs out in my inventory storage.

Then again, I'm Old School business, trusting my noggin with 21st century augmentation.

Have fun & Joy to the World!

Efficiencies for eBay and Amazon Shipping Crunch Time   Efficiencies for eBay and Amazon Shipping Crunch Time

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
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Thu Dec 20 13:51:16 2012

Al, ''old school'' has its benefits (anyone seen ''Skyfall''?) OK, no spoilers.
My best tips seem to be keeping all my packaging supplies in one bin I can take around the house so I can move to wherever when I pack..to watch tv, etc..

And also to start sorting my Amazon inventory by product type and category so I'm not rooting around thru a zillion boxes. ;) Anyone else?



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