One challenge for serious sellers is managing inventory. This is made more complicated when you are dealing with inventory that appears in many places and is constantly going in and out of stock. You may have the same items posted in your Etsy shop, on your own website, displayed at craft fairs, on display in a local gallery or giftshop, and sold directly to friends and neighbors.
Keeping track with pencil and paper is a good start, and works for awhile with a beginning product line and a few sales outlets. Discovering an automated system is your next major step in taking your business seriously.
You can use a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel to set up inventory tracking on your computer, especially if you have experience using business applications. A good online spreadsheet program is free to use on Google Drive. There are plenty of computer programs you can buy to track inventory, from POS (Point of Sale) systems for stores to inventory management systems for manufacturers. Some are designed specifically for different types of artists and crafters.
But the latest inventory management tools are “in the cloud” – online systems available for a monthly fee. There are several specifically targeted to the art and crafts market. You can track your products at different stores and selling locations, whether Internet based or physical stores and galleries, consignment or wholesale. You can track individual customers themselves, complete with integrated email lists.
StitchLabs inventory and order management system is very popular among serious Etsy sellers, integrating seamlessly with an Etsy shop. StitchLabs was developed as an API app for Etsy shops, but goes far beyond. You can connect to many other online selling platforms, from eBay to Shopify. There are modules to connect to PayPal payment gateway and to QuickBooks for accounting. It is a management system with a huge potential for artists and crafters.
Craftybase is another online system made for professional crafters that allows you to track products, sales and much more. It does an especially good job of tracking the creative process – the raw materials and the time that goes into making your items.
Bizelo is designed for general online sellers but with a new focus on Etsy and the arts marketplace.
And the Run|Inventory system, while simpler, is free.
So start inventory tracking from the very first days of selling your artwork, and explore the computer options for making this task a whole lot easier and more informative as your business grows.