By Joe Waynick
In today’s economy, independent bookstores are finding it tough to turn a profit. It seems hardly a day goes by without an announcement about another brick and mortar operation going under.
That doesn’t have to be your fate. And with a little planning, proper application of off-the-shelf technology, and a bit of gumption, you can leverage your existing store inventory and dramatically increase sales and profits.
There are three factors to consider if bookstore owners want to start selling online:
- Inventory Management
Sourcing: You’ve Already Got The Goods
One big advantage Indie booksellers have over typical book scouters is they have ready-made inventory. The books currently sitting on your bookshelves can pull double duty by being listed online as well as displayed in your store. Selling books online from your existing stock will generate immediate additional profits.
However, one of the greatest advantages of Indie booksellers is your trade and book purchasing policies. As neighborhood booksellers we have the luxury of having additional inventory walk through our doors almost every single day.
We don’t have to go out and hunt down books to sell. We may do that anyway, but when they walk in the door we can but quality stock for pennies on the dollar. We then have the ability to sell that stock both online and in our stores.
Inventory Management: Keeping Track of Stock
Good inventory management is essential to a smooth running online bookselling operation. To make that work you’ll need a workable Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) system that allows you to easily find a book when it sells online.
However, for books sitting on your shelves for public display, ensuring that books remain in their proper place can be a challenge. Some bookstores remove books being offered online from public display to avoid the possibility that they’ll be misplaced or damaged by browsing customers. They shelve them in a separate location for safekeeping.
Other booksellers keep their online offerings in the physical store to pull double-duty as previously mentioned. They make sure they’re extra diligent about straightening up the bookcases at the end of each day, and return wayward books to their proper place.
Fulfillment: Providing World-Class Customer Service
Once orders arrive you’ll need to quickly and easily retrieve the ordered book from inventory, carefully pack it for safe shipping, and send it to the intended recipients.
Most marketplaces have a strict policy about how long you have to fulfill customer orders; usually two or three days. If an order hasn’t been marked as shipped within the allowed time, many marketplaces will automatically refund the customer and debit your account.
If you get too many automatic refunds charged to your account, you run the risk of having your selling privileges suspended. In addition, if you generate too many customer complaints due to poor service or shoddy merchandise, you likewise run the risk of having your account shutdown. A good alternative would be to outsource your order fulfillment to a company that provides the service like National Products Fulfilment to make sure all your orders are process in a timely manner.
The best policy is to treat your online customers with the same level of care and respect you treat the customers who walk through your door. In that manner, your account will always remain in good standing.
For more free articles about selling used books online for profit, visit: http://www.internetbookselling.com
Joe Waynick is author of “Internet Bookselling Made Easy! How to Earn a Living Selling Used Books Online” (ISBN 978-0983129608). You can contact him at: http://www.internetbookselling.com/contact.html