The Sourcing Ban 2020

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Once upon a time there was a reseller who was heading towards becoming a hoarder.

The love of item sourcing was so strong that the death pile was ever expanding.

It’s no surprise that almost every reseller loves sourcing, who doesn’t like finding treasure?! The rush is sometimes much greater than the attached monetary value, and other times its the inverse with perceived value simply tied to ones own nostalgia and emotions. Lastly the potential discovery of a gem that many others might have missed.

The biggest issue I have always struggled with so far in this reselling journey has been converting all those amazing finds into actual real $$$. The concept is dead easy. 99% of everything found has potential to make some decent money but the follow through with getting stuff actually listed has been somewhat lacking. I say somewhat because I do list quite a few items, I just tend to gravitate towards the ones I enjoy within my own operations. I have 3 categories or buckets that I could group my items into:

  1. Items that I really don’t mind listing, perhaps even enjoy. Some book niches, old vintage computer games, other unique items. I actually get through these items at a decent clip.
  2. Items that I don’t mind finding but hate listing. Clothes are the perfect example of this. I did outsource most of this process however I’m in a transition period to a new photographer at the moment which will hopefully work out. When this workflow is going smoothly getting this stuff listed can actually be very fast (and also quickly add up outsourced costs here too).
  3. Items that have potential for some really good returns but require additional work in some form. This might include cleaning or testing. Think old camera equipment, video players, electronics and such. Here I often procrastinate or defer due to time investment (I’m very time poor, currently, and for the foreseeable future) and also I think a big part of sitting on this sort of stuff is dealing with higher value item returns, or even more simplistically, the fear of these even occurring.

Anyway, I have digressed a little, one day I walked into the storage unit and had a momentary sense of panic. Perhaps even a mini panic attack you might say. There were vestiges of sourcing missions everywhere, stacked haphazardly at multiple heights. I had recently installed 6 shelves in the storage unit which had all the listed inventory arranged and accounted for but even with this installed there was still a huge mess.

I mentally decided that this would be an excellent time to hit pause on acquiring more items, also known by some in the community as a sourcing ban. I have attempted this a couple of times before but never really succeeded for more than a couple of weeks. Previous iterations of this concept have often triggered simply by knowing that I have been buying more than what has been selling which was easily viewed by reference to my monthly summaries. Being that I hadn’t collated data for these in quite a while (the time to do this became a bit of a roadblock here and I worked out this was costing me around $1000 a year vs actually listing. Good news though, I have recently been able to 95% automate all eBay and time tracking data meaning these summaries will be returning again soon!) so this time I knew I needed to get a little smarter with how I implemented this ban. I decided to pick a date and attach a reward goal at the end for additional motivation (in addition to other motivating factors including getting a heap of items listed and hopefully a heap of additional sales).

I ended up deciding that 55 days was the answer being the exact number of days until the Garage Sale Trail 2020 which would also serve as my reward post sourcing ban. Being that I had a huge 2019 (on the Garage Sale Trail) and picked up some great items I thought this would be an excellent chance to have a big spend up after not purchasing any inventory for almost 2 months.

The Metrics and Targets

Daily Listed Value

At a rough guess I figured that I probably had over $10,000 in unlisted stock and probably closer to $15,000 if I got literally everything listed. After mentally estimating potential numbers I immediately followed with a further thought “That is a straight up ridiculous amount of cash just sitting around”.

I chose a number that I thought I realistically ‘Should’ be able to get to on most days and instead of a daily listing number target that many others might focus on (I.e 10 items per day, a common number often used a a benchmark in the greater reselling community) I took a $ value amount instead which was $300 listed value per day.

This could be made up of a single item for $300 or 30x $10 items. Whatever worked to get to that $300 figure.

Time

I allocated around 2 hours per day on average to get items sold packed first and then focus on listing. This figure is pretty accurate during the workweek but less so on the weekends. I still work full time in a role that has become more and more demanding as time has progressed (in a good way mind you) so this is really about what I can get to without having significant negative / adverse impacts on the family. (This could be debated at times and is a topic for another post).

I had down time of:

  • 2 Days Working Away.
  • 2 Days Sick.
  • 5 Days Carers Leave (Looking after Sick Family).
  • The AFL Grand Final Day.
  • The $5 Challenge Admin Day.

There is 11 out of 55 days where I wasn’t able to list due to physical location, time constraints or consciously chose not to list.

I spent a Half Day one Saturday with Manga Listing for 5 hours but otherwise most weekends I tried to list both days but I often failed in this regard with family time the main priority.

This left effectively 44 days of listing available.

The Results

I started off very well in the first couple of weeks while initial motivation was high and item values were also high. I quickly found myself over $2000 ahead, more than double my weekly target of $2100 after just week 1.

After just 2 weeks I felt noticeably lighter when walking into the storage unit. Just a little less stressed or anxious.

The sickness (both my own and the families) thrown into the mix at different times did impact motivation significantly I think and as the days wore on I found myself definitely losing motivation to list.

From a sourcing perspective, while I was getting listings banged out I had no real inclination after the first week to go sourcing. I do have to drive past 2 different Op Shops to get to my storage unit so I found that an interesting insight. However like a junkie I did have a few occasions over the 55 days where I did do some sourcing. These occasions came after the bouts of sickness which rolled me out of my listing rhythm. I cannot say what was the direct cause of slip ups but it was probably a combination of losing the listing momentum combined with a good old thirst for some treasure hunting! Had I not gotten sick I think I could have completed all 55 days.

In comparison with the preceding few months however what ended up being sourced was almost nothing in comparative dollar terms. As in the last 30 days while getting around to writing this post has been over $800. That’s a huge difference obviously.

I did however make it through the half way mark all the way to 34 days without sourcing even a single item which I’m pretty proud of. I actually came unstuck in part to the wife who wanted to go to the Op Shop for some baby items.

She twisted my arm…and I was kind of saving money by doing so…

I spent the sum of $14 on only the highest quality items, even putting a few back on the shelf. I made a mental deal with myself to list these items the very next day, which I did, turning $14 into $135 Potential. Sold one item the next day which paid for what I had spent. I’ll call that a win.

This seemingly justified event seemed to release the kraken though.

I spent $5 on a mis-priced listing whilst actually searching currently listed items to gauge price (minimal completed listings available for reference). The items I came across were the same price or better than I would find in an op shop and included delivery. Yes please, this may have been a sourcing ban but I’m not going to leave easy money on the table particularly when it is sourced in mere seconds!

I picked up some Free Books Day 39 from a family member which turned out to be a bit of a bust. There was promise of a few old speedway ones which emotion prevailed and these were no longer leaving. Fair enough. There was another box which had already been picked through though (I was told this), so in the end I ended up taking a big old box of books to the op shop and kept only a few. I did sell a couple the next day for $30 cash so all was not lost and there’s some interesting ones which will fetch some good money but could take years to sell. All in all this was not a good use of time.

I spent $10 at Salvos on an insane amount of DVDs and items. The team at the shop recognised I hadn’t been shopping in some time so were very generous. This little lot will turn into over $350 eventually.

By Day 41 and my motivation to list was definitely waning.

Day 42 I had to take some general items from the house to the tip and I gave in and brought about 25 books in my favourite niche from the Tip Shop for $10. This is a similar concept (to me anyway) as buying some baby clothes from the Salvos. I already have to go to the tip anyway so why not at last try and make some money for having to do so and at least effectively pay me for my time.

Day 46 Post Gift. On this day I some good general life news and celebrated by heading back to the local Salvos again. I spent $31 on a large selection of DVDs and games. Brought a set of xmas placemats which I sold a couple of weeks later which paid for everything.

Day 48 Visited the Vinnies Clearance Outlet Plus Sammy’s $21. I picked up some puzzles and a couple of block prints. I later sold 2 old Holden puzzles alone for $95 combined within 24 hours…

Day 49 Weekend mission $36 spent at the local honey hole. Some of this was for baby again but came away with a couple of items for reselling as well including a vintage VB Singlet from the 90’s which should sell very well.

The Grand Summary Total

The 44 equivalent adjusted days listing value came in at $11,783 which is the equivalent of $267.80 per day…

Not too shabby and very close to target on the adjusted basis.

I did spend $138 on sourcing in the second half of this challenge, of which this entire amount was recouped in sales prior to the challenge ending (and then some).

Sales during the period? Interesting question though I haven’t loaded any sales data in for quite some time using the form. Now that I have this process automated (see an upcoming post on this) I will be able to easily calculate this next time. Using the hugely accurate bellwether (not) of the 90 day eBay app tally, all the extra listing didn’t really give me a massive boost. I should add that it has been very consistent though hovering around that 10K 90 day total for a while, without running and sales events for months now.

Lessons Learned From This Process

This is a great time to complete this heading into Q4 to really get some listings cranked out. This process has been so valuable that I intend to repeat this exact same experiment again next year in August and September (the seasonal months where my sales tend to take a dip). By doing this I may flatten out the curve a little.

The unit needs to be a little more organised. Ever since moving in I have had plans to custom build my own listing and packing desk by enlisting some help. I haven’t quite got there yet but I found at times I was being slowed down packing items which in turn reduced the available time for listing. A big part of early next year will be getting this space setup. Some design concepts first then execution.

Poor planning – Lighting Fails x 2. I had 2 days (See Day 31/55 Instagram) where I had intentions of listing but ran into problems with the batteries for lighting (the unit has no power). Although the days weren’t total losses being able to do other tasks they certainly were not as productive as they might have been otherwise. Perhaps a third battery might be a good idea moving forward.

List the most rewarding first. This seems like common sense but it definitely helps get a bit of a roll on. I spent a lot of time particularly in the early days with some high $ amounts. I found these days very easy compared to a day of listing say 7 DVDs for $100 and thinking geez I have along way to go to get $300 for the day. On days like these a single $80 odd dollar item can make all the mental difference and help get you over the line.

Love me a multi listing. Experimented with a couple of multi-listings over this time and sold a couple of items. When I do find a good replenishable with variations this will come in handy. The entire concept is really great, 1 listing with number, type and price variances.

Stretch Targets are great. Setting super ambitious or high targets will help elevate your overall performance. I didn’t end up succeeding in hitting my target of listing $300 a day but I did still end up listing more than $1472.80 per week on average for the 8 weeks. As a pert time seller I have to be pretty happy with this amount.

Business Policies. If you are not using them you should be. I’ll readily admit I didn’t use these for a long time and when I changed over to using them I had to spend a bit of time fixing all the existing listings up and matching them etc… Now that they are set though they speed up listing on the phone a lot! These also played an important part in setting up my record keeping automation later by keeping the naming conventions the same. Once you get the hang of these you will never go back I promise.

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