I have been spending time lately thinking about blocks. Not the ones that we sell sometimes on our site, but the ones that stand in our way. I have been noticing that a lot of inventory was building up inside our house. When I took a minute to think about it, I realized there were various blocks in the way from turning the money we spent on inventory, into money back in our pocket.
There were several stacks of inventory in the house. Some were new items to add to Amazon’s catalog. Some were items that needed to go on Ebay, as they are a better fit for that marketplace. Some were items that needed research to determine just where they had to go to refill our pockets (to buy more inventory). Some need minor troubleshooting or resurfacing. The thing that they had in common was they were not easily listed in Scanpower, so they get set aside. Every item that you set aside, is extra time and money that you are wasting in your business. It takes time to pick an item up and move it around. It takes time to count the pieces and often it gets forgotten to be written down, resulting in having to look them up again. It also takes time to look up the item on Ebay, determine it is worth keeping, and read about the item. If you don’t list it immediately, you will end up doing it again. All of the rework that you do is money directly out of your pocket.
The blocks in this situation for us were mostly pictures. My partner and I disagree on how pictures are to be taken, and how to best fit it into our workflow. When we worked out that problem, more items started disappearing from the house. They are going to the warehouse, or to the customers. That means less money tied up in inventory, and more time available to work on our business. When you notice an area that is getting backlogged, try plotting out your workflow.
For example, for me New Listings (in Amazon) were becoming backlogged. Here is the process that I decided to use.
When listing products in Scanpower, usually if something needed a new listing, I would set it aside. This was resulting in a lot of items getting set to the side.
My new method is to go ahead and create the listing, and then set it aside. There is a box when creating a new item that allows you to enter offer details later. Checking this box allows us to enter our condition notes and price using our preferred method (Scanpower).
Cut and paste the ASIN and the item name into a memo to myself (I prefer using Evernote). The item then gets set aside in a stack for pictures to be taken of later. Now instead of the inventory going into limbo, the research that I have already done is not going to waste. It takes approximately 15 minutes to show up on Amazon when you create a new listing. We are not worried about the delay time, as we don’t need Amazon’s listings until tomorrow.
We like to make small listings and ship them out that day. Any items that needed a new listing will not go in today’s shipment. The next time we do a new shipment, these items have been added to Amazon’s catalog. I cut and paste the ASIN into Scanpower in the beginning of my new shipment. It will ask for the dimensions, and I measure it with the measuring tape staged next to the computer. When the item goes from Pending to Ready, it gets added to the new shipment. Add the pictures that have been taken in the meantime (saved to computer automatically using Eye-fi), and voila! The item is being sent to Amazon’s warehouse in 2 days instead of sitting on a shelf for months.
This method might not work for you, but the important thing to take from this article is that your inventory is the lifeblood of your business. If you find a bottleneck, whether that is research, pictures, listings, or anything else, take active steps to identify and remove your blocks. Your bottom line will thank you. If you need help with a specific block, try out the friendly forums or drop me an email.