Education & Training

Before Selling: Building an Inventory

There is one critical ingredient you must have if you want to make the leap from small seller to medium seller or even PowerSeller. You need an inventory. You also need to be able to replenish it once you've sold big chunks of it. Not to worry, because here are some timesaving tactics to help keep your living room or office filled with boxes and your online business in the black.

The Right Tools

If you want to build an inventory with lots of goods, you need the right software and tools to do it. Unless you sell goods that don't need pictures, you should invest in a digital camera or scanner. To keep track of all the items you are adding to your stock and simultaneously selling, it's prudent to isolate the software you would like to use for your database. For most, Microsoft Word or Excel do the job. In addition, be sure to use your site's personal page and email notification systems so that you can keep track of items.

You also can manage your inventory right here at Vendio. Our inventory management tool provides sellers with the ability to catalogue thousands of items and list them for sale across several major venues. Benefits include full automation of item listing and at-a-glance summaries of total inventory and item value.

Supply and Demand

In your areas of specialty, be aware of what items are scarce and what collectibles are available en masse. Unless the item has excellent resale potential (despite its availability), you may not want to add it to your inventory. These are definitely words to remember when dealing with the fickle collectible or computer markets, where the wind can quickly change directions, and what was hot yesterday is suddenly, well, not. Before you bid extravagantly at that Dutch auction to ensure getting those ten Kicks the Bear Beanie Babies, make sure there is still a demand for them at a suitably high price.

New Releases

Keep abreast of the latest products coming out in your areas of expertise. Know what they are selling for at retail, and be able to look at an auction in progress and analyze if it is likely going to surpass the retail price. This way you won't waste time watching items that will be too expensive to resell. After all, would you buy something at auction that you could buy for the same price at GoodGuys without having to pay for shipping, handling, and insurance? We didn't think so.


When you're looking for goods online, at retail, or at live auctions, it's a good idea, whenever possible, to buy items that are "cross-collectibles." In other words, these are items that can be possibly listed in more than one category. This is a bonus because it allows you to list an item in a category where there doesn't appear to be a high supply of that item. Additionally, it creates a larger audience for your item.

Brand Names

There's a reason why manufacturers try to establish brands for their products: People remember them and buy more of them when they are given more than one choice. With that in mind, try to fill your inventory with brand-name products, which will have a high level of visibility when you list them. In other words, let the brand--which the manufacturer spent so much money to build--do the work for you. For example, while you don't want to miss a steal of a deal on that hot new 3D board, it's probably wiser to buy that RIVA TNT 2 board from STB, not Skywell.

Think Bigger

Although it's more painful in the short run, don't waste your time buying scores of low-priced items to build your inventory, which will generate only a small profit. It's better to buy items that will bring in bigger returns. It might take more research and digging, but you'll make more money, and you won't have to stock and ship as much. It's better to turn $100 into $200 on one purchase than it is to spend $50 on 25 purchases that net only $150.

Out in the Field

If there are large chain stores in your area that cater to your specialty, you may want to pay a visit and do some comparison-pricing to see how retail prices stack up against auction prices. You may also find some blowout deals that will be good for future Dutch auctions.