After the sprint to become a high-volume eBay seller, it becomes more of a marathon to stay at the top. You have to switch your frame of mind to long-term success strategies, and one of those is to never run out of stock for your eBay store. Ever.
Imagine your general shopper: They see an item they like and they want to order, but, oh no, it’s out of stock! They will exit and find what they want somewhere else. It’s that simple. The last thing you want to do is lose that business.
Let’s look at how you can create your Never Run Out of eBay Stock inventory strategy:
Step 1: Plan
The first step is to always have a plan in place. If you want to succeed in the long term as a high-volume eBay seller, the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method isn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s the reason you’ve been getting all those out of stock alerts in the first place. Follow these steps to start creating a great plan:
Data will be your best friend. Because you’re a high-volume seller, your data will actually be useful, and the longer you collect it, the more useful it will become. For a typical small-scale seller, data on their sales are useless at best, and misleading at worst. There simply aren’t enough data points to get an accurate representation of their selling trends. However, when selling many items at a high volume, you’ll have time and quantity on your side.
For each item you’re selling, you’ll want to know (at minimum) how much lead time it takes from ordering to receiving, what your typical demand is, and the average amount of time it takes an item from order to buy. Those are your basic data points that will help you with the next step, covered below.
If your business falls under one of these categories, chances are you can find a product manufacturer willing to work out a private label contract with you. However, if you’re in the arts and collectibles niche, that might be a little harder (but not impossible). As you can imagine, it’s not really an artisan-style business option.
When you’re a high-volume seller, doing things manually becomes much less feasible — like reordering, managing your inventory, and even order fulfillment. Instead, create a plan that you can implement with various automated services. For reordering, once you know when you need to reorder each item, including lead time (and a little buffer), you can set up an automatic reordering system. There’s no reason to leave that to be done manually, as that just sets you up for human error and stress. It will also save you the time and money of doing it all yourself, and you can spend that time in other places, like the high-level planning we’re covering here. Check out these tips too, if you’re looking for other ways to save time and money managing your high-volume sales.
For order fulfillment, you may not know if you want to pack and ship everything yourself or outsource it to a warehouse that can automatically pack and ship your items for you. If you’re feeling lost in the pros and cons of your options for order fulfillment, check out this eBay fulfillment resource guide.
eBay Inventory Management System
Use an inventory management system to help you execute various parts of your inventory plan, like auto-relisting items you have in stock, bulk editing, and managing your inventory levels overall. Some inventory management systems, like the one from 3Dsellers, can even allow you to show only a limited eBay store stock to your buyers, while keeping the accurate count on the management side of things.
Step 2: Predict
Once you have a plan in place, you can start using it to predict what you’ll need in the future. By predicting when you will need to reorder, you can avoid the dreaded “out of stock” altogether.
First, analyze the data you’ve collected already. Many stores can make the mistake of having endless data at their disposal, but not knowing what to do with it. By analyzing it correctly, you can properly predict when you will need to reorder. As a high-volume seller, you will have the advantage of having a high volume of data, and the longer you’ve been selling, the more accurately you can predict what each year will be like.
Instead of getting caught up in the weeds of the data, look at your sales quarter by quarter, or year over year. When do spikes tend to happen each year? The holiday season is pretty much a given, but do you have any seemingly random spikes that happen?
Are they consistent with last year and the year before? What is the average time from order to shipment for your items? Are some items significantly above or below average? Use all of this information to predict when you will need to reorder each item.
Step 3: Check
Running a successful high-volume eBay store is not a “set it and forget it” kind of deal. You can use automated systems to take the grunt work, but you should still be regularly checking in and adjusting your strategies, as well as analyzing new data to see if your predictions were correct. By continually collecting and analyzing your data, you can adjust your strategies to make sure things continually run smoothly.
The other component of this is to check your inventory and make sure that it is optimized for your stock management. Yes, this can be done by software for the most part, because regularly manually checking your eBay store stock would be a nightmare for high-volume sellers. However, if possible, you will want to manually check your inventory periodically to make sure that the system is accurate.
It's your time to succeed!
As a high-volume eBay seller, the pressure can feel enormous to provide the perfect experience for your customers every time — and having an out of stock item can mean losing valuable business for however long it stays unavailable. However, there are strategies you can use to make sure your eBay store stock is always up-to-date, and that you never lose out on that business again.
What are your seller strategies? How do you make sure your items are always in stock? Let us know!