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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 new inventory had no spot in our house. Our fire and pride of starting our own business slowly faded away as we started to look more like hoarders than anything. We finally hit the point where if we wanted to continue to grow our business (and stay sane), we needed a reliable method to store eBay inventory. While it may not be for everyone, this is what we’ve found to keep our eBay inventory organized! Let’s break it down into steps so we can better see the journey we have taken thus far:
1. WE RENTED A STORAGE UNIT.
One of the nice things about having a normal job is that you can leave work at work. When home is your workplace, it’s reeeaally 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 10’x30′ unit which can easily support a 1,000 item store. (Obviously, this depends greatly on the size of your items….but that’s a good general guesstimate). We pay $130 a month for our unit but it has repaid us many times over with peace of mind and a home we can relax in.
**Addition: Since we’ve received the question so many times, no, our unit is not climate controlled. We have -30 winters and 100+ degree summers and have never had any temperature issues with our inventory. However, if you carry items that are temperature sensitive (i.e. wax, some types of film and vintage media, etc.), keep that in mind when looking for a storage unit.
2. WE ORGANIZE INVENTORY AS IT COMES INTO THE HOUSE
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. Having a designated spot for 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 4 totes.
- Clothing for the male mannequin
- Clothing for the female mannequin
- Other (including clothing items that will look better not on a mannequin)
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. WE PRE-PACK ITEMS AND KEEP AN INVENTORY LIST
Every smallish softish clothing item that we buy is packed long before it’s ever sold. 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.
Just a note here on poly mailers, if you’re not using them….you’re missing out big time. They are, by far, the fastest, cheapest way to ship clothing or other small items. We generally use two different sizes: 12″x15.5″ (designated “J” in our inventory), and 10″x13″ (designated TS). Here is our method:
- Fold clothing neatly and place in poly mailer.
- Close poly mailer with a small strip of masking tape.
- Write the next inventory number on the masking tape and add it to our Easy Tracker Inventory List.
- 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 look it up on our inventory list, find it, seal it, and ship it! Voila! Easy as it gets!
4. WE ORGANIZE ITEMS BY TYPE
Apart from our “J” and “TS” totes, (they orginally stood for T-Shirts and Jackets…) we have spot in storage for shoes, coats too big or valuable for poly mailers, and “other.” The more organized you can keep your eBay inventory, the better off you’ll be. 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!
THAT’S ALL THERE IS TO IT!
Having a solid and reliable way to sort and store inventory creates a major difference between a frustrating eBay hobby and a streamlined side business. If you’ve wanted to know how to store eBay inventory, hopefully, we’ve answered your questions! If there is anything else you want to know, feel free to leave a comment below! Until then, thrift hard, have fun, and may the sales be ever in your favor!