In the world of online retail where margins are tight and deliver expectations are high, it pays to only spend time doing the things that make us money and ignore the time wasters. That’s common sense, right?
Surprisingly though many businesses waste a huge amount of time just by having poor business processes. Some businesses report that as much as 90% of their day to day efforts are essentially spent on time-wasting activities. In reality they affect all of us. No matter whether we are selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Wish or our own websites we need to identify these time-wasters and work to eliminate them!
Do you have time-wasters in your business?
A time-waster or non-value added activity as it is often known, is something that you do as part of your work but actually doesn’t give you any benefit or financial return. At first glance it is easy to look at your business activities and think you don’t have any time-wasting activity. Be careful though. Many activities can seem like they are value-adding or are essential but are actually not.
A good example of wasted activity is logging in daily to each of your sales channel(s) to process orders. It is essential that you log in to each of your platforms each day, isn’t it? Actually, probably not. It is certainly true that it is essential that you process all your orders from all your channels every day. However, it is not true that you have to do this by logging in to each of your channels to see your orders and process them one by one. There are ways to process your orders more efficiently.
Another good example of wasted activity is printing shipping paperwork order by order. It is essential and value-added that you print shipping paperwork for each order right? Yes and No. Yes it is value-adding and essential to print your shipping paperwork as you can’t ship without it. However it is time-wasting to do this individually, order by order, sales channel by sales channel.
Identifying your time-wasters
The first stage is always to identify what the non-value added activity is in your business. To do this you need to take a look at each of your activities step by step, taking note of the things that are wasting your time and effort. As you do it make sure you are looking at things such as:
- How far you are walking around your warehouse or office. Walking is a non-value added activity. Are your things in sensible places? Could you reduce the time it is taking simply by rearranging things?
- How far are you carrying your stock items?
- Do you frequently pick the wrong stock? How long does it take to put right and what do you have to do to put it right?
- Is your stock layout optimised with your most popular items easily to hand and fast to pick.
- Are you carrying huge inventory that is taking you time to look after but you rarely sell?
- Is your workplace cluttered? Is this clutter making it hard to work efficiently.
- Do orders often have to sit and wait for the next thing to happen?
- Are you or your staff often sitting and waiting for the next thing to happen?
- How many times to you enter the same data? Are you re-entering product information over and over again on different channels?
- Are you manually managing your inventory across channels?
- Do you pass order data directly to your accounts package or re-enter it yet again?
- Do you make lots of mistakes at any point in the listing/order process? If so, what causes these?
- Is your data consistent across all sales channel(s)?
- Are your computer systems causing you extra work?
- Could they actually save you work?
Reducing the time-wasting activities in your business
Once you have identified the time-wasting activities in your business, your next task is to try to reduce them. This solution will be different for every business but may well include:
- Reorganising your product storage or warehousing
- Altering your stock management system
- Disposing of old stock and any rubbish that is in your way
- Clearing up your workspaces and making sure you only have the tools you need in your workspace.
- Examining your computer systems and how you are using them.
- Consider using multichannel management software to reduce data re-entry if you are not already using it. Why? Because many of the most time-consuming non-value added administrative tasks are automated for you, meaning you have time to spend doing the things that will actually make you money, like picking your products from the warehouse and wrapping your parcels.
Businesses that take control of their processes can see very considerable improvement in their productivity. Taking an activity like this seriously can give you more time, reduce late shipping and increase your capacity at no extra cost.
How does Expandly help you eliminate time-wasting activity?
Expandly is multichannel management software that is all about reducing time-wasting activity. From the moment you login to the moment you ship your orders, Expandly aims to reduce your workload. Here’s how:
All that shifting between marketplace and web store logins takes time and is entirely non-value added activity. No-one is going to pay you just because you logged in. Expandly software provides you a single entry point to view all your listings, manage your inventory, process orders and view your sales reports.
Listings and product management
Listing your products well on each of your channels is one of your greatest value-adding activities as a business. Get this right and your business grows, get it wrong and it can all go horribly wrong. It is the act of creating the motivating copy that you use on your product listings that is the value-adding component here. The admin associated with manually listing it first on eBay, then on amazon and then on your web store is definitely not. Expandly can manage this part for you leaving you to focus on creating material that portrays your product in the best light.
Managing inventory using spreadsheets, moving inventory around between each of your channels manually can be incredibly time-consuming and is a great example of non-value added, non-essential activity. Expandly can help you by managing this flow, making it “hands off” for you and providing a central multi-channel view of your inventory at all times.
Order processing & Shipping
Manually processing your orders one by one, channel by channel can be a very slow process although again it seems like it is adding value – orders have to be processed after all. However, there is a much faster way to do this. Expandly enables the bulk printing of picklists enabling bulk picking of orders, the print all your shipping paperwork as a single activity and the marking of all your orders as complete across all your channels in one easy move.
Shipping carrier integration
Entering shipping carrier information into shopping cart and marketplace software can be extremely time consuming. This page tells you more about how Expandly’s Royal Mail integration can help save you time.
Expandly provides you the tools you need to eliminate a lot of your non-value added activity leaving you more time to do the things that make you money. Book a demo or sign up for a free trial of Expandly today to see for yourself how Expandly can reduce your admin burden.