Managing inventory for any business can be difficult, but for a book store, it can be exceptionally challenging. To manage book store inventory effectively, you need a system that allows you to easily find a particular book when it sells. This could mean ordering them alphabetically, either by author or title or grouping them all by genre. Or if you’re more visual, you might even find it easier to group them by color. The question is, how do you make all this work? The answer to this quandary is not so simple. Every business is different, as is every business owner. In other words, you have to find a system that works for you. Here are a few creative ideas you might try.
1. Storage Units
Most new business owners start with the dream of working from home, but as your inventory grows, you might feel like it’s taking over. When this happens, you’ll probably find it’s much easier to store your inventory in its own dedicated location. Many online booksellers find storage units extremely helpful for this task. And it’s easy to get online and reserve storage units for free close by. With a storage unit used solely for your inventory, it will be easy to install shelves and organize your books in an easy-to-find manner. Just make sure it’s close enough to your home and provides easy access so that when you make a sale, perhaps some featured new releases, it’s not an inconvenience to go grab the item. You also don’t want to spend more on gas than you make in profit.
Within the storage unit, you’ll still have to categorize the books. Keep the featured bestsellers and new releases near the entry and more obscure books towards the back. You’ll probably be selling more featured bestsellers, after all, especially if you offer a coupon to consumers who are looking for bestsellers to fill their bookcases.
2. Coded Boxes or Bins
Another creative way to manage book store inventory is by using coded boxes or bins. The way this works is that when you list a book for sale, you put the unique code you assign its container in the listing. For example, you might code one box AA-2. So, for any books you have in that box, you would put “AA-2” somewhere in its listing. That way when someone doing some online shopping buys it, you know exactly where to find it, whether the sale is Spanish books, Harper Collins kids books, books as graduation gifts, or any other special occasion or large print Bibles. With everything in its own bin, your free shipping will be streamlined.
3. Take advantage of Amazon FBA.
Many booksellers start out selling their inventory on Amazon, and there are some big advantages to this. For one thing, you’ll have built-in marketing so you don’t have to worry about advertising and all the costs associated with that. For another thing, Amazon has a program called FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) that allows you to ship all your inventory to them and they do all the work from there. This includes storage and shipping.
With Amazon FBA, you don’t have to hassle with inventory management at all. You just have to source your products and send them in. Keep in mind, however, that there are fees associated with FBA, including per-item and subscription fees. Many people find these costs worth it for the time and money saved in shipping, storage, and advertising. But you’ll have to decide if it works for your business model.
4. Use labels.
Large labels are great for easily locating inventory. You can use them both on your books and on your shelves. For example, you might label one section of shelving “romance” where you would obviously store all your romance books. You could also color-code your labels for specific genres or add your own numbering system to the labels.
5. Take your cue from other book stores.
Sometimes, the best way to create a system is by looking to others in your field. Take Christian book stores, for example. They typically sell a lot more than just Bibles and Christian books. They might sell church supplies, worship resources, and Christian curriculum, too. They also usually have a diverse array of merchandise — large print Bibles, Truth Bibles, and other Christian books or adult resources. They also have seasonal offerings, with plenty of Christian books for special occasions and information on events like a first communion.
When you think about how their inventory must be arranged, it can give you an idea of how to organize yours. If you have a wider array of products than just books, it can be easier to find your inventory if you group it into categories. But again, these categories don’t have to be conventional. They can be grouped in whatever way makes it easiest for you.