Selling items online - through platforms such as eBay, Etsy or Amazon - requires serious organisation if you want your business to grow. If you’re organised, your orders will always be correctly processed and delivered to your customers on time. Happy customers come back for more and (hopefully!) leave positive reviews to help you attract even more new orders.
Working from home, though, can make it tough to be organised. Space can be at a premium, and there are a lot of distractions at home that can make it difficult to knuckle down and get on with your work. Here are our step-by-step tips for organising your home office space to maximise efficiency and help your online sales business grow.
Step 1: Dedicate some space
A separate room is ideal for your office: a spare bedroom, the garage, a shed - any room you don’t ordinarily use for everyday living. If you don’t have such space available, you may find that dedicating a space within one of your rooms (such as in an alcove or corner) might be okay whilst your business is in its infancy. As you grow, though, your stock and paperwork could overtake your living space and make it difficult for you to switch off from work and enjoy your free time. Being self-employed makes switching off difficult enough as it is - don’t make it harder by having all your work-related bits and pieces cluttering up your living room!
If your work is taking over your home, consider storing stock in a self storage unit (find one that you can access easily, and where you can get to your unit at convenient times); if business is doing well, look into renting office space on the same site as your storage unit for maximum efficiency.
Step 2: Kitting out your office
Wherever you locate your office space, as an online seller you will need:
- A desk;
- A comfortable chair;
- A computer/laptop and printer, with a decent internet connection;
- Shelves (f you have opted for a self storage unit, use the trolleys provided and create flexible ways to organise and arrange your stock);
- Drawers (go all Marie Kondo and organise these with little storage baskets to separate smaller items like wires, batteries, USBs and stationery) and
- Ample space for your stock.
You’ll also need an area with an appropriate backdrop against which to take photos of your products (this could be a neutral-coloured wall, but use whatever fits the nature of your business - be that quirky, professional, arty or practical).
Remember that items you buy for your business can be offset as expenses against your income and may reduce your tax liability - include them in your tax returns and keep your receipts!
Step 3: Sorting out P&P
Once you receive an order, you need a way to get your stock to your customers quickly and easily. Set up an area dedicated to packaging materials - bubble wrap, plastic self-seal bags, tissue paper and business cards or little messages to send in your packet to your customers thanking them for their business. Store your weighing scales here, too, to check the price of your P&P.
If you have everything in one place, it will make wrapping so much smoother and it will be easier to check that every order is accurate as you pack it.
As your business continues to grow, check that your current preferred postal service (e.g. Post Office or courier) is still the most economical method of delivery. If you’ve opted for a self storage unit, you can use it as a pick-up/drop-off location for your preferred courier.
Step 4: Getting started!
Once your office space and storage is all arranged and organised, you can get on with the business of running your business! You’ll appear (and feel) much more professional, and customers will appreciate the greater efficiency and reliability that having a methodical approach produces.