The Return Of The Loot Machine and December 2020 Summary

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(Return of the Mack) Come on
(Return of the Mack) Oh my God
(You know that I’ll be back) Here I am
(Return of the Mack) Once again
(Return of the Mack) Pump up the world
(Return of the Mack) Watch my flow
(You know that I’ll be back) Here I go!

Love that song and hope it is now stuck in your head!

It’s been awhile (a loooong while) since I’ve done a Reseller Summary and there is a good reason for that, simply, I don’t have a lot of time with everything going on in my life, the day job, part part time reselling and the bubba. The data entry was fine as already part of some of the process but the time to get all the sales entered and then all data nicely formatted did take some time, probably minimum a couple of hours each summary, before I write the summary post! This is time that now could be better spent on critical activities like actual sleep… I joke, sort of.

Recently though I was lucky enough to enjoy a single planned day off tacked onto the back end of the weekend (my favourite kind of break, the three day weekend). I had planned to do some sort of eBay work on this day mainly to have a crack at catching up from all the stuff that I’ve found from the two Garage Sale Trail days, maybe list a few things etc…

With some fortuitous timing I got sidetracked talking to a fellow reseller named CaptainOpShopNerd (See Instagram) and we got brainstorming about automation and some ideas that he had been working on himself. After a little while thinking about this I decided what he was suggesting I could probably have a crack at getting done within this day off and to be honest a welcome detour from some of my least favourite aspects of reselling. I fired up the computer and set to work.

There were two simple ideas:

(Note: The full process of all the automation will be covered in another huge post.)

Idea #1 Automate eBay Sales Record

This was the data entry step that I hadn’t gotten around to previously which resulted in me having to data entry to generate figures for the previous summaries. I knew it was possible to automate this through eBays API but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. After speaking with Captain I thought at the time if I could get this working then maybe I could bring back the summaries with figures! This part was actually pretty straightforward and as usual should have done it agggggges ago. This process was completed by using a platform called Zapier and creating a Zap (The platform name for a set of process flows steps) which takes the Sales data from a paid status eBay sale, formats the data how I want and then adds to my Googlesheet.

I get an eBay sale now and it is automatically entered as a line item in my Googlesheet with fees, postage and cost of goods auto calculated. No more data entry.

Idea #2 Semi-Automate Reselling Time Tracking

I wanted to see live data, a monthly summary was great but its not quite the same as being able to see live progress and adjust my time focus if needed. I wanted to see listing rates per minute, $ amounts listed, how much I had spent for the month sourcing, fees, cash flow, etc…

Most importantly I wanted to see that true $ rate per hour to see if my reselling activities are working better than the day job.

To do this I needed a better way to track time. Previously I was doing this by using a google form which worked fine but I also found it a bit clunky in my process flow. An example would be getting to the storage unit and listing a few items. At the end of almost every session I would go to fill out the google form and be like ah when did I start again? This happened quite a few times and resulted in inaccurate times obviously.

This issue came up in conversations with the Captain and I posited that surely there was a way that an app could be used instead, start time, stop time, done?

Turns out after some research there are plenty of apps that track time but only a few that would interface with Zapier.

In the end I went with an app called Harvest. Getting this working took far longer than I would have liked and I learned a couple of little issues that can be created when working with Zaps and Googlesheets.

Within Harvest I created separate tasks for Sourcing, Listing, Packing and Shipping.

An example of my listing process is now:

  1. Open App.
  2. Select the task I am doing in the moment (listing).
  3. Hit start.
  4. Complete x amount of new listings and then when finished hit stop on the app.

The total time is automatically entered as a new line item in my Googlesheet against a listing activity.

There are some other neat little tricks which can be done using harvest as well but I’ll save those for the large blog post.

Recreating The Loot Machine

All of the data is pulled together in the Loot Machine dashboard (Googlesheet). Building on top of the theme that I built for the $5 Challenge alongside 2 Aussie Thrifters (See the published $5 Challenge Googlesheets dashboard here) I went with the same colour palette for the recreated dashboard sticking with the neon green. I wanted a simple layout.

An example from around the middle of the month.

The December 2020 Summary

The December 2020 View Of The Loot Machine Dashboard on 31st Dec 2020

Sales

December was everything that I hoped it wouldn’t be this year, slow, erratic and under performing. I had a sneaky suspicion that my physical location would actually work against me (Perth AU) with most of Australia customers residing on the East Coast and postal speed decreases experienced by AusPost.

Sure enough, in the lead up to xmas my sales were definitely down against some of the previous months.

The sales data in the Dashboard along with the fees, COGS, and shipping are all automated and live now. (With occasionally a shipping element needing a tweak or an addition to a VLookup Table when an old store item sells). I have moved to business policies now so don’t expect to have too many of these instances. The business expenses are still pulled in from a Google form and I still want to have a copy of the receipt for accounting and auditing purposes.

Listing

Its evident from the Dashboard above that I was a bit slack on listing this month however those figures are not truly accurate with some crossover observed as the listing element was only tied in for semi-automation towards the middle of the month. Nonetheless I was well aware that I should have been pushing a little more. I should note however that some of that time does include setting up a few bins for my helper, the listings and value of which wont be reflected until next month. (I have about 40 drafts almost ready to go).

An average of 2.8 listings a day is still pretty low and something that I will be looking to significantly increase throughout 2021.

Sourcing

As shown in the Dashboard above I spent up a little bit this month. It seemed like everywhere I went simply had good deals about. I know when I am spending a lot in a month I am effectively spinning the wheel, that is, investing a lot back into business inventory which is likely going to sit around for sometime. The problem I have is with limited time available I am having trouble getting the throughput to make spending this sort of amount of money worth it, by this I mean having money tied up in stock that’s going to sit.

On the plus side of this months spend (and in conjunction with the Monster Garage Sale trail hauls over the 2 days in November) I really don’t need to be out sourcing for a while.

Check out a December mission with the Aussie VHS Thrifter from early December.

Cashflow and Gross Profit Per Hour

The gross profit per hour is using net amounts, that is after fees, shipping, cogs, etc… I’m still calling it a gross amount because it does not (currently) account for tax still to be paid.

I was interested to see where the GPPH ended up for this month, being I had spent so much time sourcing Vs Listing and Packing I knew (from seeing the same occurrence previously in other summaries) that the rate was going to be pretty poor against some stellar previous numbers. The result was $35 GPPH which I am definitely OK with with the amount of time invested. If you make $35 per hour, that is the equivalent of a yearly salary of $69,160 which is a decent rate for a part time job on your own time frames.

I expect to do basically 50% less sourcing next month so would expect to see this number go up. By focusing on getting more items listed instead of sourcing I also would expect to sell more items. Both should have some positive flow on effects to both the GPPH and cashflow numbers. Now that I have listing recording semi-automated I am excited to see the true reflection to these numbers in the months ahead.

Cashflow was positive for the month but still pretty weak on account of the inventory spend.

January 2021

Whats the plan for next year? Good question, I have a few strategic ides to implement for 2021. I’ll be covering these in an upcoming blog post in conjunction with an appearance on a live YouTube Stream on the 8th Jan 2021.

My primary focus for January is:

  • To get as many items as I can listed. With basically no sourcing occurring I expect to see some awesome figures come out of this months efforts.
  • There will be another sourcing mission with Robbie Hollywood (Aussie VHS Thrifter) at the back end of Jan 2021.
  • A mini goal is to get all remaining clothing items processed by my helper. This should be around 75-100 items. There is a lot of potential profit tied up here.

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