Sunday, November 20, 2016

Failure is the Opportunity to Begin Again More Wisely

Well, I have some bad news. Unfortunately the warehouse project isn't going to happen. First let me say that I really cared about this project and wanted it to be successful. I want everything I do to be successful. Sadly, the client and I have different ideas about how this mountain of inventory should be tackled so we have decided to shut down the project.

This is not because I was incapable or unwilling to do the work. I felt that my efforts were not making the measurable difference I had hoped for. After 5 weeks of listing I took a step back to analyze the progress and make suggestions for improvement.

My Concerns with Progress

Listing pace was very slow. Because of the nature of the items and the research needed, a maximum of 6 listings per hour was the norm. Much too slow to tackle 100,000 items in a reasonable amount of time. At this pace, it will take 16,666 hours to list everything.

The sell through rate (STR) on the items I listed was only 30%. This was discouraging as I understood the client's STR to be 80%. I was not even meeting half of their STR.

Dollar amounts on sold items were very low - most less than $20.

Revenue generated was equal to the amount the client had paid for my services to organize and list the items. There was no measurable profit after 5 weeks. As a service provider, that is not acceptable to me.

Unsold listings were accumulating. Handling unsold listings was not within the scope of my work. There were nearly 700 items in the unsold folder and that was a huge concern for me. I was very uncomfortable with listing more items until we had a process for handling unsolds in place. The client would be paying me for listing items, 70% of them would go unsold, and possibly drop off after 90 days of sitting in the unsold folder. Some might argue, "What does it matter, you are getting paid to list the items?" Well, it matters to me. I want my efforts to be successful and the client to be successful. I want the time I invest to mean something. I don't want to be a hamster on a wheel doing meaningless work.

I did not feel the client's money, or my time, was being spent well. My efforts were not paying off for the client. I brought these findings to the clients attention and proposed some solutions.

Proposed Solutions

I proposed to ramp up the listing by having a team of listers (experienced proficient eBay sellers) in the warehouse for several hours a week under my supervision. The client did not wish to have more people involved at this time.

I proposed to dedicate one helper to handling unsold items until we caught them up. The client agreed that this was a hole in the boat. Neglected unsold items means lost opportunities. The work is done, the items can't sell if they are sitting in the unsold folder. If the work is lost, sales are lost, and the work has to be done over again.

I proposed to lot together lower value items to get them moving.

I proposed to continue to schedule out listings as far as 3 weeks. Scheduled listings can hold 3,000 items. The client could still review the listings, change pricing, or make other tweaks before listing. With a team of listers we could knock out 100+ listings a day.

The client has always been concerned about keeping up with shipping as items sold. I proposed a shipping center in the warehouse where we could assist and help catch up on shipping daily as needed.

Unfortunately, the client and I have different ideas about handling this project and that is perfectly fine. I am honored to have been included and maybe some of things I learned during this experience will help me in the future. Refer to the quote above.

If you need help getting caught up on your backlog of listings, or want to list eBay items faster, check out my eBay Virtual Listing Service.

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