How to keep your business running whilst you’re enjoying a well-earned break!

I can’t believe it’s June already. Where do the days go? 2017 seems to be speeding on by and we are fast approaching the time of year when normal routines go out of the window and my world becomes just a little bit more ‘ad-hoc’!

There are only seven weeks left until the end of the school term and as any parent will know, our bank accounts start emptying at a terrifying rate as we embark on a constant stream of days out, activities and often a holiday abroad as we attempt to keep our children amused!

Oh it’s all good fun of course and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but just as you probably have, I often used to think: ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if just for 6 weeks of the year, over the summer, I could leave my entire business in the hands of somebody else completely…”

Four ways to relieve stress during holiday season

Being an online seller and working for yourself can sometimes prove a challenge if you need time off or want to take a holiday, especially if the products you are selling are physical ones that need packing and shipping.

Of course, there are plenty of parts to an online business that can be done completely on auto-pilot and indeed products that can be dispatched, not by you personally, but by fulfillment services.

But sometimes you might stock a particular product that you have to store, pack and post yourself, either because it’s more cost-effective, you’ve only just started your business or simply because it’s a product that you like to add that personal touch to.

If your products are like this, then there is a very good chance that in fact you can leave your entire business in the hands of someone else so that it continues to run smoothly whilst you take some time off.

There are plenty of fulfilment houses who will pack and post your eBay and Amazon orders to your customers for you and there’s Amazon’s own FBA programme (Fulfilment By Amazon) to consider as well.

So, here are some options for keeping your business going when you have other important commitments or want to take some time out to relax.

1. Use Amazon’s FBA Programme

You might not be aware of this, but in fact you can use FBA for your eBay orders too and even for products that you have listed on your own website!

‘Multi Channel Fulfilment’ is Amazon’s service that allows you to fulfill your orders from other sales channels using your stock that you store in Amazon’s fulfillment centre.

Once you have shipped your stock to Amazon to store, you can submit order fulfillment requests to them using either a simple web form or a file upload including the buyers address, shipping instructions and you can add a personal note too if you wish.

The only thing you need to be aware of is the packaging with this service. Multi-Channel Fulfilments do not go out under plain cover so your orders will be sent in Amazon packaging which includes their logo. So, your eBay orders will bear Amazon’s name as will your orders from your website…

This could be a small price to pay though for peace of mind whilst you are on holiday or otherwise bogged down.

2. Speak with your supplier

I had a situation where my new stock had become held up in transit and I had customers waiting for their orders. Not wanting to make my buyers wait longer than necessary, as a long shot, I emailed my supplier and asked if she would consider fulfilling my outstanding orders for me with her own stock and if so at what cost. I was pleasantly surprised when she came back to me and said that this was no problem at all! She would deal with all the orders if I sent them over on a spreadsheet, charge me the postage costs and add a ‘fulfilment fee’ on top. This equated to about 50p extra per item. So, for an additional 50p, my orders were packed and posted that day and I didn’t have to lift a finger. Until I asked, I wasn’t even aware that my supplier would consider doing this for me, and we now have an arrangement whereby when I am on holiday, she fulfills for me. It’s easy to get an internet connection abroad and I just collate the orders and email them over to her. Yes, you’ll have to pay a little extra because you’re getting a ‘service’ but weigh it up and this kind of arrangement may well work for you too.

3. Ask a reliable friend

If you don’t want to get involved with fulfillment services and you only use eBay or you only use Amazon to achieve sales, think about asking a reliable friend to deal with your packing and posting for you. You can agree an hourly rate or a total payment for the work they do for you.

In fairness, it’s easy to manage questions and queries online everyday yourself, it’s the dispatch scenario that is the aspect you need help with, especially if you are holidaying abroad.

All you need to do is supply enough stock, packing materials and cash for postage to your helpful friend before you go, then simply email a list of names and addresses to him/her every day or every other day depending on your arrangement (in fact they won’t even have to go to the Post Office if you combine this idea with my final suggestion – number four below).

This way, they don’t even need access to your eBay or Amazon accounts. You can quite easily log on and mark items as dispatched once you know they have been posted!

This could easily become as nice little holiday job for a student or if you have other friends who also run online businesses, you can help each other out – take it in turns to do the Post Office run – everybody wins!

4. Use a courier service

There were times in the distant past when I had looked at the pile of parcels waiting to go to the Post Office, and I realized that I was going to spend half the day in there when I could actually have been doing so many more constructive things than waiting for ‘Cashier Number 6 please’.

So, this prompted me to investigated courier services – and I’ve never looked back! My Hermes is my favoured courier and you can find them here

The great thing is that you don’t have to be at home for them to collect your parcels!

So, you can leave everything in a designated safe place, then go and carry on with the other things you need to do, they’ll pick everything up and deliver it for you.

You book and pay for everything online and you can upload multiple addresses so it’s all straight-forward. You’ll need a printer and the maximum size parcel is 15kg but this should be suitable for most.

You can use this service to save yourself time when you could be doing other things and of course you can use this in conjunction with my ‘ask a friend’ suggestion above too.

There is a charge for this which you’d expect due to the fact that they will collect from your door, so you’ll need to weigh up the costs versus time scenario, but I do recommend them and prices are competitive.

So, as you can see, with the holiday season coming, there are some simple ways that you can continue to sell online even if you are busier than usual with the children at home, or you are simply going away on holiday. And if you really want to get away from it all – simply switch your listings off whilst you’re away and have a proper break.

As always I wish you the very best of success,