Business Inventory

Hello everyone!

I’ve got a question. I plan to add more stuff to my website now that I’ve got the Glowforge. Those of you with your own business website? How many items do you make for your websites inventory? Or do you make one and have customers customize it in your page? I’ve been making wall decors and wooden lamps. Just looking for tips to improve mine. Thanks!

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I feel like it depends on your available time and room to keep inventory. Almost all of my laser work is made to order with 1 week production time. Where as almost all of my hand made woodworking items are made ahead of time. The ones that are not have a 2 week production time.

There are so many variables that change from person to person, shop to shop. I work full time besides my shop so I give myself more time to get things done which may lose me customers that are looking for things to be sent out faster. But it’s what I’m able to do without losing my mind.

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I rarely keep any inventory stock, but lots of material stock. Although making items when ordered is great from a stock standpoint (never any overstock), it can get pretty stressful selling the chicken before the eggs. I recently decided that I’ll make something before selling it to reduce the stress involved. BUT… I have grown a following of customers over the last 4 years who will happily buy me out of puzzles when I make them. My puzzles are super niche and expensive, so this method probably won’t work for you for a couple of years!

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Not that my Etsy has done a lot of business but I usually have at least one or two made up

For me, how much inventory I keep on hand is about managing how much control I have over my time. I don’t like when I /have/ to drop my schedule and make orders to keep up so I work not to put myself in that position.

So, I have maybe 70% pre-made and 30% personalizable items in my store. The pre-made stuff, I keep a week’s worth of inventory on hand. That’s 2 to 8 of each item depending on how popular it typically is. This way I only spend 1-2 days a week restocking what was sold recently to maintain that inventory level, and I can choose what days I feel like doing that.

For the personalizable items, I pre-make all the components that can be pre-made and stock those. I then just need to pop in a blank and do the final engraving or what have you to finish it when ordered.

I also keep 30 days worth of materials packaging on hand. There were times last year when it took weeks to get a shipment of wood or bubble wrap or shipping boxes in. So now I always have enough wood, acrylic, bubble wrap, packing paper, shipping boxes, shipping tape, printer paper, toner, etc to go a month without a restock so I can wait a month if needed. Half my dining room is filled with 50 packs of shipping boxes in various sizes, 200 foot rolls of bubble wrap, unopened boxes of wood, etc. When I e.g. use up a 50 pack of some shipping box size, I grab another 50 pack from that stock and order another 50 pack to replace it then.

It does increase my taxes a few dollars a year. My city has a “business personal property tax”, and taxes me on the value of all property held by the business. Meaning every pen and paperclip, every shelf, the value of my Glowforge and its foil ducting, etc.

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I had originally planned to make a few of each item, but I found the items I was least expecting turned out to be my best sellers. If I had made several of each item, they would be sitting there collecting dust. Based on this experience, I make one or two so I can photograph it for my Etsy shop. I do try to keep a couple of my best sellers in stock.

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