Controlling a mixed Online and In-Store book inventory

We often read the question, “I keep my online books mixed together with my in-store only inventory and often misplace books”. It can be frustrating selling a nice book online only to not find it anywhere in your store, and not only frustrating but downright expensive, especially if you fall below a listing site’s fulfillment requirements and get banished. Some sellers choose to put sticky notes or index cards inside their online books while others keep the online stock in a separate section of the store. This can be a bit of a nuisance to your patrons as well as not looking too professional. Here’s what we do. As with most good systems the beauty is in the simplicity. While listing books we simply jot down a reference number or book ID on the top of the first front end page, or second if it happens to be a dark colour alongside the book’s price. This is always done lightly and in pencil. Some sellers opt for little Avery stickers but over time the glue will dry and they will fall out of the book. When a book is sold online we erase the price and reference number before mailing it. When a book is sold in-store we make a note of the book ID on a clipboard kept by the cash and update our database during a quiet time. Of course many of our books are not listed online. Those simply have the price marked inside. You could also add a code for the date that the book was added to your stock if stale products bother you (and they should). While cleaning your shelves you can quickly glance inside and if the book has an older book ID or date code then either move it to storage (you can always rotate it back in later) or if it’s not an expensive item offer it in a bargain bin.

Let us know if you have a different system that works well and we’ll add it to this post.

2 thoughts on “Controlling a mixed Online and In-Store book inventory”

  1. Thanks for the comment. You’re right in that there are challenges. We do lose out when it comes to fulfillment but not too much. Because of the wear and tear problem you mention we do keep our more expensive stock away from harm but for average items we feel the risk to some damage is outweighed by the need to sell the item.

  2. Don’t know why anyone would want to combine their store inventory and say your inventory of Amazon or Alibris. First, the shuffling of books in a B & M store is constantly being dealt with. Many nice books are never found on the initial search…or any search!!! But I think the biggest concern is the condition after the ‘in store’ customer carries the nice dust jacketed book around laying it here and there…flipping it open and shut. This, to me, would destory a ‘very good’ condition book. Call me old fashiioned but when I put ‘very good’ to a nice book, I want to put it somewhere safe so that I will know when I go to get it…it’s in the same condition. I have shopped in stores where their Alibris inventory is on the shelves and I watch their fulfillment… it’s down bad. My 2 cents worth.

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