Mistakes I made selling online in March and April 2014

Mistakes I made selling online in March and April 2014

Happy Friday Everyone! It’s been a couple of months since my last post about some mistakes I have been making so I think it is time for another one. Before we get started, later today I will be attending the college graduation of one of my younger brother’s at Winona State University.  So, congratulations Eli!

If you missed my last mistakes post you can find it HERE.  My goal with these posts is to help give you a more complete picture of selling online.  There is a lot of information about how great selling online is, including here on this blog, but it’s not always smooth sailing and this post will be about going through some of the rougher waters.

We’ll begin by looking at items that I sold at a loss.  In total for March & April there were 37 items that I sold where I lost money before factoring in inbound shipping.  The largest loss on an individual item was $10.51, which was a Fisher Price guitar and microphone playset.  This item was purchased back in December for $26.88 when the selling price was much higher (around $65 via FBA), but I was unable to sell it at that time.  As a result I decided to sell it in March for the current market price and took the loss.  My reasoning for doing this is that it is rather unlikely that the price will recover to anywhere near the December levels in the next few months.  Getting the item sold and receiving some cash for the item allows me to reinvest this cash into additional products to resell.  HERE is a link to the item, and HERE is a link to camelcamelcamel to see the price history if you are interested.   Sometimes you just have to take the loss and reinvest the proceeds.

In addition to the 37 items that I lost money on, there were another 20 items that I sold for $1 profit or less before factoring in inbound shipping.  So, after inbound shipping the majority of these items would also be items I lost money on or at best broke even.  In total there were 57 items in March and April that I sold at break even or a loss, overall not bad, but selling at a loss is never fun.

The second mistake that I will be sharing today is the mistake of purchasing items to resell and then letting them sit around unlisted.  You might be thinking, well Ryan, why would you ever do something like that? Here’s an example, I bought 12 of these Swiffer refills on clearance from Target, 5 of which can be seen here: 20140317_153736

I brought the bag in my house, set it in a corner with other inventory, and let the bag sit there for about 2 months.  Over these 2 months more than one thousand items were shipped into FBA, but not these Swiffers.  I kept buying more inventory that was “easier” to deal with or was more profitable and left these behind.  After they had been sitting around for a couple months I finally listed a 12 pack on amazon for sale merchant fulfilled, and they sold after being listed for 2 days! I had them at my house for over 2 months, and all except the last 2 days I had money tied up that couldn’t possibly benefit me.

I can’t tell you exactly why I chose to neglect this item.  But, in one of my inventory areas I had this item (along with others) sitting unlisted because for one reason or another I didn’t want to deal with them.  I am guessing I am not the only one who has some of these items sitting around unlisted.  It’s more fun to go shopping and keep buying more items, so it’s not overly hard to neglect some items that might take a little more time to deal with.

The morale of this story is that items sitting around unlisted are just tying up your cash in a way that is not beneficial for you (this ignores the possibility of investing in items for the long term).  When you buy items to resell be sure that they ALL get listed in a timely manner as it’s the best way to keep the cash flowing.

I am not proud to admit the 3rd and final mistake that I will be sharing today, but it happened and maybe it will help someone reading this at some point in the future.  We’ll begin by stating that the picture at the top of this post is of my work desk as of the middle of April.  Nice and organized, right?  Not at all!

So, I purchased a discounted gift card on eBay to a store that I shop at regularly for inventory at the end of March.  The gift card cost $100 for $115.51 in value to the store.  You might see where this is going, but that gift card started off on my nice clean desk, and now is nowhere to be found.  It’s possible it could still turn up, but I am not holding my breath at this point.

As I mentioned, I am not at all proud of this, but a lack of organization can be a real problem for this business.  It is essential to keep track of all receipts, inventory, etc, so that things don’t go missing and cost you money.  I have not completely solved my organization issues, but am in the process.  The first step I have taken is signed up for a free trial to Shoeboxed.  They provide a service where you send them all of your paper receipts and they scan them into an online portal which you have access to, and then send them back to you.  So far, I have found this to help decrease the paper clutter on my desk quite a bit, but I still have a long ways to go organization wise.  So, find a system that works for you to stay organized, and definitely make sure you keep track of your gift cards!

That’s all I have for today.  Do you have a mistake you would be willing to share that we could all learn from? If so, please share in the comments below, or send me email at grant.ryanj@gmail.com.

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