Organizing the paper trail from an online shop

Binder clips
Binder clips are oddly addictive to collect

This is a pretty specific topic, but I am often asked how I keep track of orders from all of the places I sell online, so I figured it was worth a post. Really, this method can be used to sort any type of office papers so it might actually be helpful to many of you, however, if you’re wanting a solution solely dedicated to online selling or eCommerce as it’s known, have a look into eCommerce platform providers such as FastSpring, this will be able to keep track of orders for you automatically as well as much more, making selling online a little easier. Let me start by explaining what I’m talking about that needs organizing. The business model that Manic Trout is focused on is online sales and wholesale orders. I believe strongly in multiple revenue streams, so I sell on more than just my own website online. I sell on a variety of “anyone can sell here shops” such as Etsy and Woocommerce. The latter is great because you can run it through a WordPress page, giving you more control over the user interface. Take a look at if you’re interested in finding out how to do this. I also have drop shipping accounts with online stores that buyers have reached out to me from. All of these stores either send me an email when an item is sold or I login once a day to download the orders that have come in that day. Most of these places in addition to having their own specific packing lists have certain ways that are particular to how and with what materials they are shipped. In addition to all of these shops, I also received most of my wholesale orders in email form, from either stores who I deal with directly, or through my showrooms and reps. This ends up being a great deal of chaos if not handled properly and as my policy is to ship within 3-5 days, I need to keep up to 5 days of orders from different stores managed so I know what I have already made and in stock in the jewelry closet, and what still has to made for these orders.

inventory lists
The lists next to my desk of inventory

The other paper that I find key to have easily accessible is a list of what I have sell in each of the dropship accounts. I like to be able to see at a glance these lists for multiple reasons: if I am discontinuing something at the end of a season, I need to make sure everyone knows this, to make sure I always have these pieces in stock and ready to go and to make sure that they all have pieces from the most recent of my new collections. For sites that I am managing the inventory myself on a site like Etsy or Chictoipa, I use a spreadsheet on the computer to keep track of listings as there are over 500 at any time. For sites where this is not the case, it is probably a better idea to check out somewhere like Stitch Labs for some more sophisticated inventory management options.

I tend to always choose the wire hooks, but use both the white and clear

Over the years, I have tried multiple ways to handle all of this paper, and after I rearranged my studio a few weeks ago, have actually gone back to a modified system that I first used in about 2005. I am a visual person (obviously) and need to see everything in front of me or I tend to forget about it. When I only have copies of the dropship stock on my computer, I can never remember what is on it. If I stack up all of the orders in a big pile, it does not motivate me to get it all out the door immediately. So I find that I need to be able to have a lot of paper hanging on the walls. The damage free hooks that have the pull tab double sided sticky foam mount have made it so I can have hooks all over the place in the studio without doing harm to the walls, perfect for both moving things around and putting up tons of them guilt free. The little ones hold up to 2lbs and binder clips are the perfect way to hold the paper and hang on the hooks at the same time.

orders organized
The wall of orders

Next to my desk, I have two racks of hooks hanging where I keep both the drop ship account inventories and a list of the percentage that all revenues takes from sales and the billing/payment schedules and methods. I was surprised at how often I have used that list, its really helpful to have it right there. On the big wall behind the jewelry making area and next to the shipping area, I have three rows of hooks. This wall is for orders. I hang them right to left, most recent order on the right, with a separate hook for orders from each outlet per day, but all of the orders from the same store, i.e. all orders for the day are in one binder clip. When orders come in and before I put them on the wall, I take the inventory from the closet if in stock and update the binder where I keep track of that inventory and put it all in the shipping area. I then write down all of the “need to make” items on a pad that I keep in the main jewelry making area so I know what has to be made for each date of orders to ship. The binder clips are great as they are easy to move around on the hooks, as sometimes the orders that I already have made inventory for will ship the day they come in and this way everything still can move around stay in chronological order easily.

So thats how I attempt to keep my sanity managing all of these accounts. It’s what works for me…I hope it was either enlightening or inspiring for you!

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