What's your top trick for efficiency?

Herts, England - Not specified -
Kudos: 13,327
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
What's your top trick for efficiency?
14 May 2015
What's your best advice for getting things done faster?

Maybe you have a shortcut for processing orders, a hack for listing quickly, or a tip for getting the best out of outsourcing?
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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Max Meadows, VA United States
Jax Music Supply
Kudos: 2,565
Joined: May 25, 2009
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
14 May 2015
I work hard to to build efficiency into my processes. The more efficient I am, the less labor I need to hire. I have had 3 employees but at this point it is just me with the same level (actually more) of business. Here several things that I do:

1. Inventory organization. My inventory is highly organized, in pull out bins. Each bin is labled with the item number. The bins are organized in order of item number as is my picklist, so I am not going back and forth between shelves. Extra trip - when checking and storing new inventory items, make a note note of how many items you already have in the bin. This helps keep inventory straight.

2. Automate using software. This can include buying software or having it written. Luckily I was a programmer at one point and write a lot of tools for myself. Our inventory is synchronized across marketplaces is one way I have utilized automation. The other is for parts of my bookeeping process. I have written excel macros to integrate my sales into my bookeeping system as well as creating a dashboard that takes my accounting information and puts it in a format I use to measure my business.

3. Outsource if you cannot automate. I have a lot of data entry (invoices) due to the number of skus I carry. This is a simple but time consuming task that cannot be automated. I hired a trainged accountant in India to handle this part (as well as balancing). Saves me 20 hours a month at a reasonable cost ($150 USD).

4. Write training manuals for shipping and other processes and keep them updated. This is vital if you have employees. Saves a lot of time in training and gives a reference so they are not asking you questions all the time. Build checklists for employees to use as well as an audit tool for you!

5. Use a proper shipping tool. I see so many eBay sellers using Paypal to buy their labels and then using Amazon or going to the post office for their other marketplaces. Eat the cost (they are very cheap, sometimes free) and use an postage solution such ShipWorks or Teapplix. While on shipping, STOP going to post office. If you live the US and use USPS postage, you can schedule a pickup for free with your regular mail delivery (don't forget the scan form) or pay a small fee to have them pick it up at your convenience. The fee you pay is way offset with the amount of time and gas (petrol) used to go to the post office.

There are more, but these are the ones that help me the most.
Garland, Texas United States
Retail Web Diva
Kudos: 150
Joined: Dec 2, 2014
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
14 May 2015
@Andy Staying focused and having a set routine. But staying focused is the big one for me!
Lawanna Bean
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Bedrooms Plus
Kudos: 62
Joined: May 19, 2014
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
15 May 2015
For us, using the cloud makes us extremely efficient. We use cloud based order management software, cloud based advanced telephone system and many other cloud based services.

This means no software licenses and no lengthy contracts. All of these savings are passed on to customers. Using Ring Central for a telephone system means we can of course answer a call in the office but we can then also take calls through the mobile app if we are in the warehouse or even during the weekend when the office is closed. Along with this we operate a live chat service. Again this has a mobile app meaning we can make chat available more often and answer customer questions from absolutely anywhere.

What Jax said about shipping is another good point. We use Royal Mail and DPD. By having an integration with our shipping software, we can print a shipping label in seconds and its ready to be collected.

The full company runs with dropbox business meaning we can allocate folders to our out of office web team and other departments. It also means we can access any file at any point on any device.

Finally, we have cloud based accounting software. Kashflow has a free trial and it has been a game changer for us. Here is the link: www.kashflow.com .

Working in the cloud is key and the more that adapt to it, the more streamlined your business can be.

We as a business can access every single part of information and every system from anywhere in the world at any time and on any device.

Thats our key to efficiency.

[Last edited by moderator: Fixed link — 18 May 2015]
London United Kingdom
Matt Thorpe
Kudos: 204
Joined: Oct 15, 2014
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
15 May 2015
Hi @Andy,

My main tip is outsource what you don't have the time to do. Outsourcing is very affordable these days and, if you find the right person, you can achieve a better quality of work.

In the past, I tried to do everything myself and I just couldn't do it. You need to stay focused on the end game, keep a clear head and maintain your vision whilst using the best tools/people available to get there.

For example, paying someone who lives and breath social media can have a massive impact on your business rather than updating your social channels with weak, non-engaging content. They will have more time on their hands and they will know what works and what doesn't.

You can't be great at everything. Stick what you are good at and then bring in help where you need it.
New Zealand New Zealand
Kudos: 15
Joined: May 13, 2015
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
17 May 2015
@Bedrooms Plus

Recommendations mean a lot more if they are not affiliate links...........
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Bedrooms Plus
Kudos: 62
Joined: May 19, 2014
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
17 May 2015

It is not an affiliate link. They provide us with these links as customers. We do not earn anything on them. I mentioned several other companies that we use also.

Search kashflow if you do not want to use the link. Still great software.
NJ United States
Kudos: 63
Joined: Jun 5, 2015
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
15 Jun 2015
Avoid Do-It-Yourself tools
Focus on the task/s which is your expertise and outsource the repetitive ones.
However, I would emphasize that outsource the tasks for which you DO have the in-house knowledge and you know what's the outcome you are looking for. Just that you do not want to focus on those; typically operational tasks always.
In the absence of clarity, you will end up being more inefficient.
Nottingham United Kingdom
Kudos: 3,693
Joined: Feb 21, 2014
Re: What's your top trick for efficiency?
30 Jun 2015

Finding the right staff, first time, is clearly the most important to us.

You can have all the most efficient tools at your disposal, but if the staff want to take their time and make mistakes, it negates the work you have put in to all the new software and processes.

Do you want somebody who can pick, pack and dispatch 300 orders a day as well as doing messages and organising purchases from suppliers, all with zero defects, or somebody who does half that using the same system ?

Quality staff help create a quality business.
E-commerce , love it or hate it, that's why we are here

Thompson & Holt