One of the most time consuming tasks of eBay selling is packaging items for shipping. Spending even 10-15 minutes packaging a single item can quickly add up to hours (and days) spent processing stock.
Being a physical process, it can be hard to visualize how to speed up this aspect of eBay selling. Besides outsourcing, there are a number of ways professional eBay sellers can improve efficiency when processing sold items. Read on to discover seven such tips and tricks!
Keep inventory neatly organized
A crucial aspect to improving packaging efficiency to have a well organized inventory. Not only does this save time when locating sold items, but it also ensures safe storage and reduces the probability of losing an item.
The first step to create an effective inventory management system is to find a dedicated space, create shelving, buy appropriate storage containers and decide on a labelling system.
Next, consider the organization process for items. Traditional retail stores usually stows related items together. Amazon, on the other hand, famously stores unsold items in a random order. Be prepared to experiment – the best organization system for your business may take some trial and error to get right.
Set up a shipping station
A shipping station is central to any professional eBay packing process. Ideally, it should be a large workspace with all of the required equipment to pack and ship an item. This includes (but is not limited to) a printer, boxes, tape, labels and cushioning supplies.
It is important that the shipping area is well lit and laid out in such a way that the packer can easily access shipping materials quickly. It can be helpful to have a separate ‘outgoing’ table to place finished packages on.
Depending on the size of your eBay business, it may be worth using multiple shipping stations, each optimized for specific type of item or shipping method.
Standardize packing materials
One easy way to increase efficiency is to standardize packing materials. This reduces the need for decision making as well as time spent looking for the right materials to use for each item.
Test different sizes and styles of packing materials to find the ones that work for as many of your items as possible. This is a more straightforward process for sellers who specialize in items of a standard size such as used clothing, DVDs and books.
New eBay sellers often use second hand boxes and bubble mailers to send items to buyers. While this is a great money saver (and usually considered better for the environment), purchasing appropriately sized containers can make packing quicker and minimize the packing material needed.
Design an efficient workflow
An organized workspace is nothing without an efficient system to utilize it.
Many sellers recommend locating sold items first and then packing, with the oldest order processed first. Others prefer to process just a handful of orders at any one time to avoid monotony.
If multiple people are involved in the packing process, a mini production line system usually works well. Swapping roles midway in the process can help keep morale high. On the other hand, some may find this disruptive and less efficient.
As with so many aspects of eBay selling, trial and error is key to find the most productive processes for your business.
Be prepared to invest
With careful organization and thoughtful workflows, it is possible to improve packaging efficiency without even spending a cent. The cost of purchasing quality equipment and supplies, however, can be worth the investment.
For example, upgrading to a thermal printer can significantly speed up the labelling process. After the initial printer purchase, it can also work out to be more economical too.
Another example relates to packing materials. Using quality cushioning products make it possible to ship items in smaller boxes, which are quicker to put together and fill.
Don’t package items every day
Packaging items can be tedious and boring work. It can also be exceptionally time consuming, especially at first. With experience, it will become an easier and faster process.
It is still a good idea, however, to space out packaging days. Choose two or three specific days of the week to package and ship items. This helps to break up the monotony of packaging items every day and reduce the risk of burn-out.
Prepare for busy periods
Most eBay sellers experience sales increases around holidays, especially Black Friday and Christmas. A good way to reduce stress and increase efficiency during these busy sales periods is to prepare as much as possible in advance.
- Double check supplies of shipping materials and order extra if necessary
- Pre-build shipping boxes
- Pre-package popular items (if applicable)
- Consider setting up a second shipping station
Experienced sellers, share your own tips (and frustrations!) regarding packaging items efficiency in the comments section below