As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
When we first started selling on eBay, we had things stashed in cupboards…then sneaking across the floor, then creeping out of our small extra bedroom. eBay quickly took over our house and left us having nightmares.
Things were impossible to find when they sold and we had no room for new inventory.
Our pride in making a living on eBay started to fade as we realized that we looked more like hoarders than business people.
We finally hit the point where, if we wanted to stay sane and continue to grow our business, we needed a reliable method to organize and store eBay inventory.
While it may not be for everyone, this is the method that we’ve found to keep our eBay inventory organized! It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s similar to methods used by dozens of other resellers.
If you’re new though, I know it can be overwhelming to set up.
So I’ll show you what we do and you can take it from there for your own situation!
How We Store Our eBay Inventory
Every clothing item under 2lbs is packed well before it’s shipped.
While there are some exceptions (such as down jackets, expensive fur, etc. we find it’s easy to organize and store eBay inventory that is in polymailers.
As soon as it’s photographed and measured, it goes into another, larger bin. Every few days we pack all of the items from that bin into poly mailers, assign them an inventory number, and take them to our storage unit.
- Fold clothing neatly and place in a poly mailer.
- Close the polymailer with a small strip of masking tape.
- Write the next inventory number on the masking tape and add it to the listing
- Place the poly mailer in a tote. When the tote is full, we label it with its contents and place it on a shelf in our storage unit.
- When something sells, we check the inventory number in the listing, find it, seal it, and ship it!
Voila! Easy as it gets!
While this method is mostly for storing clothing, we use a similar method for hard goods.
Apart from our clothing totes, we have spots in storage for shoes, coats too big or valuable for poly mailers, and hard goods. Our small hard goods go in numbered totes and larger items simply go on numbered shelves.
The more organized you can keep your eBay inventory, the better off you’ll be.
If you can find things quickly you’ll be able to ship things faster and with much less headache. Also, you’ll never have to send that dreaded email, “I’m so so so sorry….I’ve looked everywhere but I can’t find the item you bought from me. Please accept my cancel order request so I can send you a full refund as soon as possible. Sorry again! :(“
The more accountable you can keep yourself, the better off your business will be!
3 Bonus Tips For Handling Your Reseller Inventory
1. Get A Storage Unit Or Warehouse Space
One of the nice things about having a normal job is that you can leave work at work. When your home is your workplace, it’s really difficult not to bring your work home with you.
Separating our home life from eBay as much as possible has given us the real freedom we were looking for in a small business. We originally rented a 10’x15′ storage unit but outgrew it within a matter of months. We now rent a 12’x30′ unit which can easily support a 2,000-item store. (Obviously, this depends greatly on the size of your items….but that’s a good general guesstimate).
We pay $250 a month for our unit but it has repaid us many times over with peace of mind and a home we can relax in.
We live in Utah with 105-degree summers and -20 degree winters which can take its toll on storage. We don’t use a climate-controlled unit and lose some inventory (usually shoes) to the weather every year.
However, we ran the numbers and came to the conclusion that a temperature-controlled unit doesn’t make sense for us. Instead, we try to keep inventory moving and keep any truly sensitive or expensive items at home.
2. Organization Starts When You Buy Inventory
For a while, after we started, we’d go thrifting, bring the items home, and they would become one with our carpet. Or a shelf. Or in their Goodwill bag in the corner.
People joke about having an eBay “death-pile” but the idea doesn’t really amuse me. That’s not how a business functions. I always imagine being at a part and someone who sells on eBay asks how I handle my unlisted inventory. The idea of telling them that I just dump it on the floor until I feel like listing it makes me feel like a loser.
Having a designated spot for unlisted inventory was instrumental in streamlining our processes.
It also kept us from making a huge mistake that many eBayers make, that is, as soon as you get home, you list the fun/exciting things that you bought and then let the other things just sit. Forever.
So here’s what we do. When we bring items home, everything goes into one of 3 areas:
- Clothing Rack (your clothing should be hanging, not in a pile)
- Shoe Bin
- Hardgoods Shelf
When we list, we go grab a single tote to work on. We don’t cherry-pick items! If our shoe bin is too full, we’ll list only shoes for a few hours. This allows us to use a template for our listings and get into the shoe groove while taking pictures and listing. No more moving around and switching between items.
3. Don’t Lose Money In Unlisted Inventory
Many sellers lose money on unlisted inventory and never even know it.
There are two main ways that this happens:
- Inventory that was once listed is no longer. We’ve had items that somehow sold, went unpaid, and never got relisted sit in inventory for years. I’ve been shocked when digging through our totes to see items that should have sold for good money but didn’t because they weren’t for sale. Solve this by going through your inventory once in a while and making sure that everything is still up for sale.
- Items never get listed. If you keep your pre-listing inventory organized this is much less likely to happen. Hang up your clothes rather than storing them in a death pile, put unlisted hard goods on a shelf, etc. Oh and most importantly, don’t buy something if you’re not willing to list it! No matter how profitable it could be if you don’t list it then it’s still money lost.
Having a solid and reliable way to organize and store eBay inventory is the major difference between having a frustrating hobby, streamlined side business, or a full-time living.
As a parting note, just be sure to choose an inventory system that is consistent with your long-term goals. We’ve had to redo our entire inventory system twice which takes several days and is super unproductive. Make sure that whatever you do can be scaled up when you have more inventory and adjusted as things sell.