Packing your items for storage can be a challenge. Pick up some plastic bags in different sizes. Sandwich bags are perfect for storing smaller items, for example. When items are stored in plastic, they can't pick up any smells or become musty before you sell them. The plastic also protects the items from rubbing against each other and causing possible damage. If you package your merchandise one item to a bag, you can then just lift one off the shelf and put it directly into a shipping box when the auction is over.
Your bags of items have to go into boxes for storage on the shelves. Clear plastic storage boxes are great for bulky items. These big plastic containers are usually 26 inches deep, so before you buy them make sure they'll fit on your shelving comfortably and that you'll have easy access to your items. Using cardboard office-type file storage boxes from an office supply shop is another option. These cardboard boxes are 10 x 12 x 16 inches, which is a nice size for storing medium-size products; they're also the most economical choice. The downside is that you can't see through cardboard boxes, so if your label falls off, you have to take the box off the shelf and open it to check its contents. Smaller see-through plastic boxes with various compartments, such as the kind sold in DIY shops as toolboxes, work great for storing very small items.
When using large plastic bins, tape a pad of Post-it notes on the end of the box so you can quickly identify the contents. You can use regular sticky labels, but changing them leaves large amounts of paper residue over time, and your storage ends up looking sloppy and unprofessional.
Inventory: Keeping Track of What You Have and Where You Keep It
Savvy eBay.co.uk sellers have different methods of handling inventory. They use everything from spiral-bound notebooks to sophisticated software programs. Although computerised inventory tracking can simplify this task, starting with a plain ol' handwritten ledger is fine, too. Choose whichever method works best for you, but keep in mind that as your eBay business grows, a software program that tracks inventory for you may become necessary.
Most of these inventory systems wouldn't work for a company with a warehouse full of stock but will work nicely in an eBay sales environment. Many sellers tape sheets of paper to their boxes to identify them by number, and use that as a reference to a simple Excel spreadsheet for selling purposes. Excel spreadsheets are perfect for keeping track of your auctions as well, but if you're using a management service or software, you don't need both for physical inventory. After you're running a full-time business, however, you have to keep the tax inspectors happy with pounds and pence accounting of your inventory, so keep your inventory records in a standardised program such as QuickBooks (discussed in Chapter 16). In Chapter 8, we detail a variety of auction management software and Web sites, many of which include physical inventory tracking features.
You may also want to use Excel spreadsheets for your downloaded PayPal statements, to hold information waiting to transfer to your bookkeeping program.
Plan in advance where you want to put everything. Organise your items by theme, type, or size. If you organise before planning, you may end up with organised chaos.
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