If you’re running a resale business with liquidation merchandise, organization is key. Buyers who are sourcing inventory through liquidation marketplaces deal with shipments that range in size. From parcels to pallets, and full truckloads, you want to create a system and stick with it.
You want inventory to be easy to find and ready to be shipped to customers. That means regular maintenance, decluttering, and top-tier organizational tools will be required. Read on for all the tips you need for organizing your liquidation pallets!
What is the Size of a Pallet Liquidation Lot?
Depending on the auction you bid on and win, you will definitely want to estimate the size of liquidation merchandise. Many liquidation auctions are for a pallet or a few pallets of goods. The standard US pallet size is 48″x40″. It takes up about 13 ⅓ square feet of floor space. But that doesn’t really begin to tell the story.
You will need to unpack boxes, organize the items, properly sort and categorize inventory, and store until it’s time to move it out to customers!
Tips for Organizing Your Liquidation Pallets
We spoke to some of our B-Stock buyers and here’s how they’re organizing their liquidation pallets, along with a few other industry tips.
1. Break down your pallets
As a reseller, you probably won’t be keeping your products in pallets. You’ll want to unpack each shipment as soon as it arrives. Also, remember that the amount of space required depends entirely on the type of products you’re stocking. Furniture is going to take more space than a case pack of cell phones.
Also consider items that might expand when no longer compressed by packaging, such as the case with pillows or comforters.
2. Itemize and catalog everything
You’ll want to make sure everything arrives as it should. Go off the provided lot manifest and check for the number of items and in what condition they arrive. Condition codes vary across retailers, so be conscious of this as you receive and unpack inventory. But remember, it’s liquidation merchandise and that means it’s usually customer returns or overstock.
Something that can’t be stressed enough is to always label everything! Whether that’s with a fancy labelmaker, some duct tape, or by any other method. One quick glance, and you should be able to see what goes where. For example, shoes can be stored in clear bins, each one labeled by brand names like “Nike” or “Adidas” on the front. If you put this off, you risk mismatching inventory and could send out the wrong order. Which would then lead to dissatisfied customers.
3. Separate inventory by category
If you purchase mixed lots, your pallet(s) of goods will range in various categories. In the auction title, you will be able to see what the mixed lot contains like electronics, home goods and if it’s customer-returned inventory or overstock.
After you’ve broken down your pallets, you will want to separate inventory by category, condition, and SKU (if necessary).
4. Create your own system
This can be an ad-hoc creation using the downloadable lot manifest Excel sheet. Here, you can find information like UPC, description, quantity, MSRP, vendor, etc.
For organization and storage, you can assign your own tracking system to inventory in spreadsheets. For example, following each item, something like “Rack 10 – Box 5: WO19” can tell you a lot. Broken down, WO = Wayfair and O19 = October 19. You can find item number X in rack 10 box 5, ordered from Wayfair on October 19. This type of coded skew can help you figure out where to pull items from in warehouse storage or even your own garage, as long as things are labeled properly that is.
You can come up with your own abbreviations for popular marketplaces you bid and buy on. Like HMD for Home Depot or AZN for Amazon. Creating your own system, especially if you have a large volume of inventory, can help you quickly locate and pack orders.
5. Install racks and shelving
The standard truckload contains 24-26 pallets worth of merchandise, though in some cases it can be even more. LTL lots (less-than-truckload) shipments make up somewhere between one and 10-12 single pallets. Maximizing your storage is essential.
Whether you’re operating out of a warehouse or running an at-home operation, installing racks and shelving is a wise investment. You can use clear storage bins with labels so that things stay organized. Don’t stack bins or boxes too high, and always place heavier items on the floor and lighter items on the top.
6. Separate inventory that can’t be resold
If you have no use for it, don’t let it take up space. It would be a hassle to sift through your functioning inventory and your non-functioning inventory. That is to say if you don’t plan to resell non-functioning/salvage inventory! There are buyers out there who buy this kind of inventory simply for parts!
7. Invest in storage space
Storage units range in size from 5×5 (which is about the size of a small closet) to 10×30 (about the size of a one and a half car garage). Depending on how much inventory you’re dealing with, you can rent a unit accordingly. Estimate how much a storage unit can hold here.
Maybe consider renting warehouse space. Here, you have the power to not only store but receive orders, package, and ship. However, with more space comes more responsibility. You will need to pick a location that works for you and your employees (if applicable) and also consider access to major roads and highways. Does it matter how close you are to home? Will it serve as a storefront? Is it climate controlled? Is your business allowed to operate there? Will there be a loading dock? Will you need insurance? What’s the lease like? There are all questions to ask yourself when considering storing liquidation pallets in a warehouse.
8. Spend some time on your floor plan
If you are investing in warehouse space, don’t mindlessly place your liquidation pallets anywhere. You should carefully think through your floor plan to make your operation as efficient as possible. Warehouse layout goes hand in hand with inventory management, so pay close attention to the real estate you have to work with and set up your most critical work areas. Create space for the following:
- Office area – Where you take care of sourcing, ordering, listing, customer service issues, and administrative tasks.
- Receiving – A liftgate is needed if it is a residential delivery, or if you’re at a warehouse, a loading dock or forklift should be accessible. You will need plenty of area here to break down, unpack, and organize your liquidation pallets.
- Storage – Where your inventory will be stocked. Make sure to keep your most used or popular items closer to the front for easier access.
- Packing – Your packing area should have all the items you need to fulfill orders. Packing materials, boxes, tape, bubble wrap/packing peanuts, label printers should all go here.
- Shipping – Where you can arrange for delivery pickups or place things to be dropped off at the post office.
9. Review your inventory regularly
Of course, you should review your inventory and perform regular checks to make sure everything is spick and span. It’s easy for things to get disorganized after a surge in orders. Check in to ensure things are still running smoothly and operating efficiently. You might find it’s time to spruce the place up and restock certain materials! Identifying slow-moving inventory will help you decide on what you need for future orders. Typically, you don’t want to sit on items for too long. By doing so, you may risk losing item value (and profit)!
Organize Liquidation Pallets with Inventory Tracking Tools
Inventory tracking tools are available for a reseller’s business at various stages. If you’re reselling as a part-time gig and don’t deal with a massive amount of inventory, there are still tools that can make your life easier. And for resellers running larger operations, managing your inventory can go a whole lot smoother. Here are a few tools you can use:
Airtable is a database tool that lets you manage inventory, build product catalogs, and keep track of liquidation auctions you’re watching. This may be actually one of the best things about the tool – for many small resellers, Airtable is completely free! The free version lets you use unlimited databases with up to 1,200 records per base. You get 2GB of attachment space per base and can run history for up to two weeks in the past. Of course, there are upgraded plans you may want to access as you grow.
QuickBooks is more than just a bookkeeping software. It comes with various tiers that help you no matter what stage you’re at! QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced allows you to manage, track, and get alerted when you might need to restock inventory.
Shopify makes inventory management a breeze. It’s simple to add products, adjust inventory levels, and see when something is about to sell out. Plus, you can create and print barcode labels to use for your inventory organization within Shopify. You can even get an add-on to notify you when inventory levels fall below a certain threshold. Like many SaaS platforms, Shopify offers a few service tiers, each at different price points.
Facebook Commerce Manager
If you want to make Facebook one of your business’ main reselling channels, you can take things a step further with Facebook Commerce Manager. With a Commerce Account, you set up a Facebook Shop, which is like a digital storefront, and create catalogs for your products. Commerce Manager also provides secure onsite checkout, inventory management, and payout tracking. If you need a simple way to track orders, returns, taxes, and other financial reports, Commerce Manager could be worth looking into. It streamlines all your reselling efforts on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and can even be synced with Shopify. These business and inventory tools come with a selling fee of 5% per transaction.
Start Sourcing Liquidation Pallets using B-Stock
The good news is there’s a starting place for everyone. B-Stock offers auctions from single pallets of inventory up to truckloads of merchandise. This gives you the opportunity to start small, learn, and grow from there. Start sourcing the right liquidation pallets for your resale business using B-Stock!
If you’re new to liquidation auctions, you’ll probably need to get a few under your belt before you have an innate sense for the amount of space needed and how you will organize inventory from there. In the meantime, try to set aside more space than you need, set up your working area, and create a plan for how you will store inventory.
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