As a craft seller, it is important to know exactly where your materials are at any point in time. After all, rummaging around in boxes trying to find misplaced stock wastes precious time that you could be using to create more of your products!
To do this, you’ll need to create a good system for labeling your materials. In this article, we’ll give you tips on properly labeling your materials so that you can keep track of everything easily.
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What is a labelling system?
A labelling system is simply a way to organize and keep track of your materials using physical labels. This can be as simple writing names on each of your boxes with a sharpie, to printing labels with QR codes from your inventory system.
Here’s some 7 tips on how to create a great labelling system for your materials:
Choose the label system that works best for you
First, it’s important to understand that there are many different ways to label things, so it’s important to find a method that suits your needs. You might also find that your material label system evolves as your business grows: that’s okay too!
The key here, as with most inventory systems, is consistency: whatever label tracking system you adopt for your business, ensure that you apply the same naming and labeling techniques to all your materials equally.
Aim for readability For starters, you’ll want to think about creating a series of cards about the size of an average shipping label that identifies each of your materials.
Black and white are usually best for readability - you’ll want to avoid colors, which can fade unless you have some pretty amazing labelling equipment.
If you need some degree of color coding, think about adding small colored stickers to the label, rather than printing the color directly on.
Display key information on your label
Once you have found a way of making your material label cards, you’ll need to decide what information should be displayed.
We recommend ensuring that you have a short unique code (otherwise known as a SKU) for each of your materials and making this the most prominent feature of your card - you should be able to read this without difficulty from at least 2 meters away.
Creating a unique SKU for each of your materials is handy at all different stages of the manufacturing process: it allows you to quickly identify stock for reordering, and also reduces manual errors when picking out materials to use in your manufactures.
In general, a SKU should be around 5-6 characters in length and ideally something you learn to recognize over time.
Want to read more about how to create the perfect SKU code? How to create great SKUs for your maker business
Another key piece of information to add to your material is a short description - this is another error prevention measure as it allows you to double-check that you are looking at the right material.
Only use as much info as is relevant - you shouldn’t need to add vendor or brand details here as this should already be contained within a secondary system you can cross reference, such as a spreadsheet or inventory software.
Think about using QR codes or Barcodes QR codes are also a great addition to a tracking label.
As most smart phones contain the capability for scanning these codes, you can then use these codes to provide you with instant access to more details about the material: a perfect use of this would be to create a QR code to your material page within your stock management system so that you can get a full summary of the material instantly while still standing in your storeroom.
You can also consider using a regular barcode on your tracking label - this is useful if you want to connect your materials to an existing barcode system. A disadvanatge of using a barcode is that it can be harder to read if the label is displayed some distance away.
Create a location system Finally, if you are also using a bin location system (which you might as well introduce at the same time!) then you’ll also want to include the bin number on the label here too.
This is great when returning materials to their locations - you’ll just match the code on the label to the one on the shelf and bingo! that’s where it goes.
Include an image Another great way to make your labels more user-friendly is to include a small image of the material on each card.
This is helpful as it allows you to quickly identify the materials without needed to pick them up - perfect for when you are in a hurry!
You could even consider using a small icon to indicate the type of material (for example, a spool of thread could have a needle and thread icon).
Investigate printing and attachment options
As the most simplest option, you can create your material labels by hand using index cards and attach them with sticky tape.
If you have a large inventory, you might like to upgrade to a label printer (e.g. DYMO LabelWriter). Label printers will allow you to create a series of self-adhesive labels quickly and efficiently. They can also be used for printing price tags for yor products.
Another option is a laminator machine - this will allow you to create weather proof labels which can be useful if you have boxes and storage partially exposed to the elements.
Choose a system to manage your inventory Creating material labels is only a tiny piece of the bigger inventory puzzle: you’ll also need to track and manage all of your stock levels somehow.
If you are just starting out, a simple spreadsheet will likely suffice. However, as your business grows you might want to consider adopting inventory management software to help take the strain.
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Automatic stock level tracking: no more manual counting needed!
Cost of goods sold calculations: see exactly how much it costs you to make each product
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Inventory alerts: restock your materials before you run out
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The final word
There you have it - our top tips on how to create great material labels for your handmade business! By following these simple steps you can be sure that your materials are well organized and easy to find when you need them.
Here’s a handy infographic on our label tips - feel free to save and to share!