When I buy something for my Amazon business, I think about how it will make my business more efficient or easier(especially on my back – I still sell a lot of heavy books). It is still just me most of the time and I only get occasional help from elves and minions*. I thought it would be fun this week to put up what’s in my office, and to find out what you use to make your business more efficient or easier.
Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Having different sizes of boxes in my office, for example, is very helpful. You’ve probably seen these wire dividers before. I got them at the Container Store for five dollars each. I have two of them attached to the shelf and I keep up to four different sizes of boxes in there at a time. I slide them in and out from the fireplace side. It is tidy and helpful. They are deep enough to keep the boxes upright. I buy my boxes in large quantities at Uline and store them stacked up in my garage. This keeps me from running in and out of the garage all the time when I’m packing inventory.
The games up above it are ones I’m keeping either for parts or because I’m hoping to find a missing part for cheap and then sell it. My promise to myself was that I would only keep this one shelf unit for the business. If it gets full, something has to go. I have a friend who sells stuff for me on eBay so some of those games are destined to be sold as parts only. My red box already has several eBay items for the next time I get together with her. I also keep donation boxes over here. When I fill up a box, I give it to the charity of my choice. Sometimes I sell it to Half-Price books. It depends on the quality of the book and how common it is. HPB is picky (rightly so).
I bought this plain newspaper roll from Uline. While Amazon is ever-so-generous and sends me tons of packing materials in all the Prime merchandise I buy from them (yes, we are an Amazon Prime household!), occasionally I run out of air pillows or otherwise need packing paper. This is the second year I’ve had this roll and it is still quite large. It goes a long way.
I have three different dollies. One is a huge bruiser that can hold up to 900 pounds of boxes (I can’t pull that many pounds, however), and the blue one is great for single boxes or possibly two. I use these dollies to roll boxes around in my office (like over to where I have the scale plugged in), and then out on the front porch to wait for UPS. The third dolly is for book sales. It is portable and folds up. I use it to haul boxes around at the book sale and to my car. The bruiser cost around $80-$90. I bought it at Sam’s Club. The blue dolly was about $25 at Big Lots and the portable one costs me about $25 every time I buy a new one. I’ve bought about one a year since I’ve started my business – I’m hard on them and the handles eventually break.
My husband generously gave up his desk so I could have this packing center. It has helped a lot. Previously my merchandise would be all over the floor, I’d lose my tape dispenser in the mess and I could never find a scotty peeler even though I have six of them. Every time I buy tape by the case from Uline, they give me a tape dispenser which is great when the elves and minions help out. I use the 3” size tape so I only have to seal a box seam once – no matter if the box ends don’t quite meet. The round metal thing is a magnetized box that holds my rubber bands. I also have measuring tapes, sharpies, Un-Du (and a cleaning cloth), scissors and scotty peelers all in one place now. The white magnetic board is also from the Container Store.
My stickers include a “Heavy” that is required by Amazon when your box is 50 lbs or more. In addition, I have stickers with the suffocation warning (for poly bags) and with “Best By” (and a place to put in the date with my sharpie). I also have a bunch of stickers that say “THIS IS A SET – DO NOT SEPARATE” for my bundles. The latter two stickers I make myself on the Dymo printer and then keep a supply on hand for fast processing.
I only need the suffocation warning for my biggest bags since all the others have the warning already printed on them. It is hard to see, but the pull-out drawers in the “flipper” above the work area have four different sizes of self-sealing polybags with the warning already printed on them. One of the big boxes that look like barcodes (unconscious symbolism I guess) has my biggest bags. They don’t come with the suffocation warning. I bought the big bags from Uline, but the smaller bags I bought as a set from Amazon.com – 100 of each bag. It is less expensive than buying the huge quantities that Uline requires. I also bought my suffocation stickers on Amazon.
Another barcode box keeps a supply of Dymo-compatible labels (I buy them in large quantities on Amazon, too) and miscellaneous game pieces that I keep around to fill out missing pieces in collectible games that I sell – timers, clay, dice, etc. My scale sits on top of the polybag drawers. The paper trays are for UPS labels and printer paper.
On my desk, most of the stuff is what you would expect, except I splurged and bought dual monitors for my laptop. You can’t see it because it is behind the monitors and attached to the wall (another Container Store solution). When I’m at the office, I use a keyboard, mouse and the two monitors. It is fantastic! I have to thank Bob Willey for this. He spoke so glowingly about dual monitors on the FBA Forum one day that I pined for them. When I had to buy a new laptop anyway, I splurged and he was SO RIGHT! Dual monitors are the bomb. I only wish I had room for three screens. Seriously. I’m what my IT guy calls a “power user.” I think it is his polite term for “pain-in-the-ass.” I often have 10-20 screens open at a time and I’m switching between them. Dual monitors help a lot. I can have ScanPower open on one monitor and SellerCentral on the other.
I also have a Dymo printer, naturally, and a hand-held scanner on a stand (that green light). My first scanner didn’t have a stand but I’m glad I got it for this one. It keeps it from getting lost on my desk and I can just slide the barcode underneath the laser and it captures it – again just a little bit faster and more efficient. My first hand-held scanner is now part of my back-up set. I have an extra Dymo, too. Sometimes my husband and I will process inventory together which is why I originally wanted two scanners and two Dymos. I also consider one my travel pack while the other one stays home. Two sets is a complete extravagance, but it has been worth it to me.
These items make my job faster and easier. What about you? What’s in your office? Please share your office solutions in the comments below!
*Elves are cheerful helpers like my husband, niece and nephew. Minions are grumpy teenage sons who complain about having to help Mom with her boxes and who require glares and threats to even get started.