Home > Sell On Amazon > Record Keeping (Part 2)

Record Keeping (Part 2)

Continuing the topic of record keeping from a couple of posts ago, this post deals with order information, both orders I place with manufacturers, and orders I receive from customers.

I maintain an Excel spreadsheet with information on orders I place with manufacturers to re-stock my inventory.  For each order it contains:

  • Quantity of each item ordered
  • Wholesale price of each item
  • Amazon ASIN of each item
  • Manufacturer’s product name and product number
  • How I paid for it (check, credit card, vendor credit, etc.)
  • Total cost of the order, including shipping, which I often estimate based on previous orders
  • Date of order
  • Date of receipt of order
  • Number of each item received

The benefits of maintaining this information are:

  • Knowing what orders are outstanding, so you don’t accidentally re-order
  • Knowing what is currently back-ordered
  • Verifying what was ordered was received
  • Verifying the manufacturer charged the correct amount
  • Easy access to information needed to correctly update the product listing with quantity, or to create a shipment to the fulfillment center
  • Keeping track of how much you owe for products you’ve ordered but not yet paid for
  • Knowing the typical order fulfillment time for each manufacturer, so you can time your re-orders appropriately

For customer orders, the information I maintain is: 

  • Quantity of each item ordered
  • Price for each item
  • Shipping cost
  • Amount customer paid
  • Amount refunded to customer (if any)
  • Items and quantities shipped
  • Date of order
  • Date of shipping
  • Tracking numbers
  • Name and address of customer
  • Name and address of recipient

Currently, you as a retailer have to pay sales tax on sales to residents in your state, but not on sales to residents of other states.  This means you have to know how much of your sales are to residents of your state, so you should make sure the format of your customer orders makes extracting this information easy.  If you’re selling on Amazon, Amazon provides a report that gives you this information for each order (ie, it gives you the state, and the amount of the purchase, for each order).  So calculating it is easy, though it can be tedious if you have a large number of orders.  I wrote a simple program to go through the text file and calculate the sales tax information for me.  I’m sure Excel can do it, so you don’t have to learn how to program, but you probably do want to learn how to use Excel very well.

I said ‘currently’ above because this is likely to change soon.  Rather than only paying sales tax on sales to residents of your state, it’s likely you’ll need to pay sales tax to each state on sales to residents of that state.  Exactly what the requirements will be is not yet known.  Hopefully it won’t be too onerous.  There are literally thousands of sales tax districts in the United States (each state, county, city, school, public utility, etc. can charge a sales tax), so streamlining this will be essential.

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