handmade success

How much inventory should I start with on Etsy?

As a new Etsy seller, you may be wondering how much inventory you should start with. Our blog post will give you some guidance based on what you make.

One of the first questions most new-time Etsy sellers ask is: “How much inventory should I have on hand?”. It’s understandable - you want to make sure you have enough products to sell and give things a decent try to begin with, however it is also daunting to think that you might overstock and have shelves of stock you can’t shift.

See also: So You Want to Make Something and Sell It? Here’s What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, given the massive difference in inventory costs and customer buying habits between different craft niches, there isn’t any specific magical number I can give you that that is the exact, just right quantity of stock you should have on hand for your new Etsy store (sorry!).

You can however use some general “rules of thumb” to get a good idea of what to aim for to give your new Etsy business the best chance at success, which I’ll detail below.

Very generally speaking, as a starting point you should consider starting with somewhere between 5-20 different products. This will give you a good selection for potential customers to choose from, and will give you set of items that you can test to see what is popular and likely to sell reliably.

This amount of stock will also allow you to start to hone your SEO on Etsy by tweaking your titles and descriptions and generally get noticed.

Depending on the products you sell, your target market, and your overall craft business goals, you will need to adjust your starting inventory from here.

For example, if you’re selling handmade jewelry, you might only have a few of each design, so you wouldn’t need as many initial products as someone who’s selling t-shirts as POD (Print on Demand, for those not aware of this acronym!).

Expect multiple quantity orders

It’s also important to list enough stock to be able to provide customers with the ability to purchase more than one and take advantage of shipping discounts. Many customers are often looking to fill out their shopping carts with multiple items to “save on shipping” so make sure you give them enough choice to consider doing so.

If you are testing what sells, you probably need at least 3 of something. 1 sale may be a fluke, 2 a coincidence, etc, but if it sells 3 times, it will probably continue selling. Also, many people want 2 of something, so it’s good to have at least 2. You want them to be able to buy a sufficient quantity to justify the shipping charges. Often 3 or 4 items will ship for the same price as 1 item, depending on what you are selling. - AAANativeArts, Etsy community forums

The ‘List what you can make’ strategy

Also think about how long it takes to make your items: if your products have a short production turnaround, an idea is to list some products as the amount of product you can potentially make from your available material stock rather than finished stock on hand. This will help reduce your finished item stock on hand and free up materials that you can use on other projects if sales don’t turn out as expected.

“I started my shop with zero “complete” inventory, but had raw material to make 20-30 products. It really depends on what you’re selling and if your stuff is made to order, customized or premade. I personally wanted to keep my initial inventory costs as low as possible in the case that my shop failed.” - CommonStep on r/etsy

This “list what you can make” strategy requires you to know exactly what you can make from your available supplies, so make sure you have your production process documented and your material usage fully calculated to avoid overselling. Etsy inventory software like Craftybase can help you with this task.

As you can see, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much inventory you should have. Ultimately, it all depends on the type of products you’re selling, how fast they sell, and how much cash and material stock you have on hand to dedicate to finished products.

However, following these simple guidelines on ideal Etsy inventory should help you get started on the right foot.

5 Quick tips for new sellers starting to sell on Etsy

Once you have selecting how much inventory to start with on Etsy, you’ll also need to consider how to market and attract the right buyers to maximise your handmade business success. Here are a couple of quick tips on how to start to sell on Etsy the right way:

  1. Choose a niche: When you’re first starting out on Etsy, it’s a good idea to focus on one specific type of product that suits a particular target audience. This will make it easier to attract buyers who are interested in what you’re selling as you can really hone in on your keywords and descriptions.

  2. Create great listings: Ensure you take the time to create Etsy listings that are well-written and include high-quality photos that really highlight the benefits of your handmade products. This will give you the best chance for customers clicking on your listings and learning more about your products.

  3. Promote your shop: Don’t just rely on Etsy marketing your products! Spread the word about your Etsy shop through social media, forums, and other online channels like Pinterest. The more people who know about your shop, the more likely you are to make sales.

  4. Be patient: Don’t expect to make a lot of sales on Etsy right away. It takes time to build up a following on Etsy and to rank, so be patient and keep promoting your shop. You might like to set a date (6 - 8 weeks from listing or thereabouts) where you review your stats and see how things are going. Until then, don’t fret too much about the numbers each day!

  5. Ensure you are keeping tabs on your raw material, product inventory and costs to produce right from the start so you have a firm grasp on your financials. Use a spreadsheet or inventory software for Etsy like Craftybase to set yourself up for success.

Selling on Etsy can be a great way to get your handmade business off the ground, but it’s important to start out with a solid foundation. By having a good selection of products, promoting your shop effectively and being systematic, you can increase your chances of success.

Want to read more about how to better manage your inventory on Etsy? The Ultimate Guide to Etsy Inventory Management

Introducing Craftybase

Craftybase is a great inventory solution for Etsy sellers because it allows you to keep track of your inventory and costs in one place. This makes it easy to calculate your prices and ensure you’re making a profit.

Craftybase also offers a 14-day free trial, so you can try it out before committing to a paid subscription. Click here to sign up for the free trial >.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.