Stationery Business: Inventory Resources & Tips
How are you tracking your product? What is your best selling card? Do you have 60 of this item for a wholesale order? All of that information should be readily available. Set up a notification in your inventory system, if possible, when your inventory diminishes to a set quantity. I.E. Card “X” has 100 left in stock, time to reorder/print. Finding the right system for inventory is difficult, though, as I'll explain...
SOME RESOURCES FOR YOU
I have to be honest, we are still using our own spreadsheets for our inventory. We haven’t found the right software that accommodates all of our needs (and that’s also in our budget). We need to be able to adjust on multiple platforms as well as manually from POs (purchase orders) coming from reps and major retailers.
One of our goals this year is to simplify and reduce the number of programs/apps that we use. While I like many features of these, there was so much overlap with other programs we already use that I felt the one or two unique features weren’t worth the cost.
Stitch Labs - Stitchlabs allows you to sync up most major e-commerce platforms. You can also manually enter Purchase Orders as they come in through email (non e-commerce orders).
Shopify Apps - If you’re using Shopify, check out all of these add on apps you can integrate into your shop.
Big commerce Apps - If you’re using Bigcommerce, check out their app store/add-ons to see what they have for inventory management.
Etsy Inventory Apps - If you’re using Etsy, check out their app store/add-ons to see what they have for inventory management.
Fishbowl Inventory - Much more sophisticated. Quickbooks integration. Allows for very specific inventory management / auto reorders. Raw material inventory. $$$ -- software starts at $4395. Might have a steeper learning curve, or require professional training.
Quickbooks: Manufacturing & Wholesale - A special version of Quickbooks made for manufacturers that allows you to track all your inventory and materials.
PLATFORM BASED INVENTORY
Most e-commerce platforms have a way to handle inventory with items listed on that specific site. The problem is, when you have multiple e-commerce platforms (Etsy, Shopify, etc...) as well as wholesale purchase orders coming in through email, phone calls, etc..., there's not a good program that consolidates all of that in a user friendly way at a user friendly price. (There is a mint of $$ waiting for whoever designs a program to handle all of this.)
How should you physically store your inventory?
You don’t want all of your inventory on the other side of the office from where your shipping table is. When we first started SSP in our townhouse, we did shipping upstairs but all of our inventory was stored in the basement. Not very efficient but it was the best we could do at the time.
KEEP IT PROTECTED
If you don’t have it all pre-packaged in cello bags, consider finding a sealed container to keep your cards free from dust / water etc..
OFF THE GROUND
In that same basement we had some serious flooding. We were glad that our inventory was on shelving off the ground.
We like these corrugated bins for our inventory.
GET MAXIMUM USE OF YOUR SHELVES
We bought extra shelves for our standard industrial shelving units that allow us to adjust the height of the shelves so there is no wasted space. Each shelf is just tall enough for just one of our corrugated storage bins.
Organize by SKU, which makes it easy to pull orders.
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Photos by Jessica Peterson for Sycamore Street Press.