Dan, aka Mr. Points with a Crew posed a question to BigHabitat, and I jumped on the conversation.
— Points with a Crew (@PointsWithACrew) January 17, 2015
Att the time, I was relaxing in the new business class lounge in Abu Dhabi, and figured, what the heck, why not offer my system as well – of course, after I wrote the post, I realized it’s not necessarily a system so much as a collection of practices related to a single topic.
You can see BigHabitat’s post about it here.
First and foremost, I want to echo BigHabitat’s statement: Consolidate your shipments! It saves time, shipping charges, and reduces risk.
Ok, that aside, here is what I do:
- Purchasing: When purchasing products (it’s generally easier for a repeat purchase), I will specifically bulk my orders in sizes that *should* result in fully packed boxes. Kohls’ sometimes messes with me though and sends things that could’ve fit into a single box, in like three boxes.
- Before I make a purchase, I always check to see (1) if it can be sold as new, and (2) if it requires labels. If it does require labels, I might print them out when I add the product, so I have them.
- Timing of purchases: I do my best to time the receipt of shipments for early to mid-week. That gives me the chance to receive, label up and stage before shipping. For lower value products, or higher shipping cost products, I might wait until I have more boxes to distribute the pick-up cost across.
- Receiving / Staging: When I “receive” I’ll open the boxes, inspect (be wary, Kohls’ products are coming damaged more and more), put labels if I need to, then for products sent via UPS, I’ll note the shipping weight on the label. I’ll note the shipping weight and box dimensions on the packing slip, so I remember to file it away after I’ve put the products in to ship via the Amazon Seller Central.
- Labeling: My general rule of thumb on labels – pay Amazon the $0.20 for the “one off” type products. Print them out and order in quantities 10-30 or more for products I see myself sending more of. I keep a stack of labels in my “staging area” specifically for this purpose.
- Shipping: For 90% of my shipments, I pay UPS to pick them up. The cost is on average $9.50, so I make it a point to have a bunch of boxes. My last shipment was 19 boxes. I try to schedule the pick-ups for either evenings I know I’ll be home, or during the day when I know I’ll be home. I also try to have a bottle of water chilled for the driver, because, it is a bunch of boxes and all.
- Note: even though you can request UPS to pick stuff up early in the day, they won’t – their trucks start out full and they don’t pick up larger shipments until they’ve made a bunch of deliveries.
- Tracking: I shared the spreadsheet I use a few weeks ago. It’s a beast to maintain when I’m doing high quantities of products, but, better safe than sorry.
- Keeping Amazon Honest: I have noticed more than a few times when boxes seem to get “lost,” and often times, it’s not necessarily lost, it is just that Amazon doesn’t always automatically update the status. So every couple of days I’ll go in and just “track package” from the FBA Shipments screen. This is valuable for a number of reasons:
- You’re seeing the status of things, which is kind’ve important.
- Shipments need to show delivered for 72 hours before you can request a reconciliation error.
- With all the e-mails Amazon sends, sometimes you might miss them receiving less than what you sent, this screen helps you verify that.
- Filing: This is where I’m worse. Like I said earlier, I note the box dimensions and weight on the packing slips, which means I’m usually sitting at my computer with a stack of papers. I try to put them into manila envelopes and note the date range (the envelopes fill rather quickly). There has to be a better way to do it, or, in a really ideal manner, getting sufficient invoices electronically.
- I’ve thought more and more about the idea of creating an e-mail address or gmail filter that would drop all of the receipt/invoice e-mails into a specific folder. I’m just not sure how to prevent missing important sales or specials, because they tend to send to the same address.
How do you keep everything organized?