Savvy eBay sellers have different methods of handling inventory. They use everything from spiral-bound notebooks to sophisticated software programs. Although computerized inventory tracking can simplify this task, starting with a plain ol' handwritten ledger is fine, too. Choose whichever 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. If you use QuickBooks for your bookkeeping, this all-in-one software will also keep track of your inventory (every time you post your purchases and sales).
Ledger systems wouldn't work for a company with a warehouse full of stock, but will work nicely in a beginning 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 sales 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 real business, however, you have to keep Uncle Sam happy with a dollars and cents accounting of your inventory, so keep your inventory records in a standardized program such as QuickBooks (discussed in Chapter 16). In Chapter 9, I detail a variety of auction management software and Web sites, many of which include physical inventory tracking features.
Planning: The key to good organization
When it became time for me to put my eBay merchandise in order, I was busy with my regular job, so I hired people to organize my eBay area. This decision turned out to be one massive mistake. They organized everything and put all my items in boxes — but didn't label the boxes to indicate what was stored in each. The boxes also weren't placed in an intuitive manner for me to quickly assemble my packages. It took me months to recover.
A bit of advice: Think things out and plan where you'll put everything. Organize your items by theme, type, or size. In my eBay business area, I have books in one area, DVDs in another, photographic equipment on shelves, and so on. If you organize before planning, you might end up with organized disorganization.
You may also want to use Excel spreadsheets for your downloaded PayPal statements, to hold information waiting to transfer to your bookkeeping program, or merely for archival purposes at the end of the year.
The Shipping Department: Packin' It Up
If you've read eBay For Dummies, you know all about the various ways to pack your items. I hope you've become an expert! In this section, I review some of the things you must have for a complete, smooth-running shipping department, such as cleaning supplies and packing materials. The handling fee portion of your shipping charges pays for these kinds of items. Don't run low on them and pay attention to how you store them. They must be kept in a clean environment.
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