Selling Online as a Business: Ways to Streamline Your Operations

An online business is as real as any other business – so why not treat it that way? When I started reselling over 25 years ago, I never considered it a real business. It was just a fun way to help pay some bills and earn some extra cash. I had no idea how to run a business, nor did I think anyone could even make a business by reselling in the first place. I was just selling bric-a-brac from all over the house.

Things have changed drastically since that time. I have now been a full time dealer for over a decade and run my business like any traditional brick and mortar business would. I had the luxury, however, of working as a general manager and then as a regional manager for a national company for almost 20 years of my life. During this time, I was able to learn all the ins and outs of running a successful business.

Once I started reselling online full time, it didn’t take long to realize the benefits of using the practices and methods used in Corporate America to advance my own business. There’s a reason companies do things in a specific way. They have spent millions of dollars figuring out what works best and how to maximize their profits. So why not take advantage of what has already proven itself? Reselling, after all, is as real a business as any, so you should treat it as such. Some very simple practices used by most businesses can help dramatically improve the business and lives of most online marketers.

One of the first practices I adopted was a stocking and tagging system for all of my merchandise listed on eBay. When I first started listing items, I never thought of storing or labeling them so that I could easily find an item once it was sold.

I only had a limited number of items in stock, and I thought to myself, how hard could it really be to find an item? But, as time passed and I listed more and more items, I soon realized that I was spending a lot of time trying to find items I wanted to ship.

One day, after spending nearly an hour trying to find a postcard I needed to mail, I finally had enough. After packing all my items to send out that day, I ended up spending the next day and a half labeling and sorting all the items I had. I even went through all my lists and added their storage location to each. This practice alone has saved me more time than I could have ever imagined.

Another practice that I have used, almost as long as inventory storage and labeling, is to keep an accurate count of all my supplies that I use for my business. We ship packages multiple times a day, six days a week – and there was nothing worse than running out of boxes, printer ink or address labels at the last minute.

Many times I would rush to pack everything before the post arrived, only to find that I didn’t have enough boxes. When this happened it meant a trip to the store to get more boxes and then a second trip to the post office to drop off the unpackaged and ready items when the US post office worker showed up earlier .

Doing a simple inventory of everything I use has drastically reduced my costs and saved me a lot of wasted time. If I run out of boxes, tape, printer ink (or any other item when I’m taking inventory), I simply order more before they run out. I also always try to do inventory, or place orders on the same day every week, and bulk order whatever I can from one source.

With many items, the more you buy at one time, the lower the price will be. Boxes are a great example of this and are also one of the biggest costs associated with shipping, in general. With the boxes, I can order an entire pallet from one manufacturer and split it among several other sellers I know, greatly reducing my shipping costs. Depending on the quantity purchased, I can save 40% or 50% on the cost of buying in store.

I’ve also learned from my past experiences that it’s always good to have at least a backup of everything you need to run your business. When I use the last of something, I order another then.

I have extras of everything, including scanners and cameras, which I couldn’t afford for the past five or six years. I exclusively use DSLR (single lens digital reflex) cameras to take pictures of objects when needed, which can be very expensive.

I once had a problem with one of my cameras and had to mail it in for an authorized dealer to fix it, so as not to void my warranty. The camera disappeared for more than three weeks. If that was the only way I could have taken pictures, I might have been unable to list new items until they came back.

These are just a few of the basic practices and methods used by large companies, and ones that I would personally recommend to all resellers. Personally, I wish I had started using them at the very beginning of my reselling journey. My business would be much better much sooner and I would have been much happier.

As your business grows, you will be able to take advantage of many more business strategies, which I will discuss in an upcoming column.

Don Heiden on InstagramDon Heiden on Youtube

Don Heiden

Don Heiden
Don Heiden is a 30-year veteran of online resale dating back to the days of Yahoo Auctions. He runs The Auction Professor YouTube channel which posts videos and content on various resale platforms and topics, and he is a member of eBay, Amazon, Hip and other affiliate programs where he can earn commission when linking to products on these sites. It is also found on most social networks under the same name, including Instagram. He is also a published professional artist which includes work produced for The Walt Disney Company. He holds an associate’s degree in designing, building, and administering database networks. He also holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in research and communication from the University of Toledo.

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