Using Office Depot as a Remote Office

Jul 07

Using Office Depot as a Remote Office

This was originally posted on February 13, 2014

I have a great all-in-one HP printer I bought several years ago. It’s sitting in a closet and may end up being one of the next items we sell. Why aren’t we using it? Because the ink costs between $40 – $50. I don’t know about you, but $40 – $50 is gas money right now. It’s about three days of groceries. It’s our water bill. So right now spending that much on ink isn’t feasible.

We’ve never printed much anyway, and once we lost the printer didn’t have a choice but to stop printing everything. Yes, even confirmations for reservations didn’t get printed. We get an email confirmation anyway, so I’ve used my phone to show the confirmation to whoever needed to see it before, and it’s worked fine. We use Google Navigation for directions on the phone and use the phone or my tablet for recipes we find online. So we’ve found ways around the printing issue.

But now that we’re selling on Amazon and Ebay, we knew we needed a way to print. We need labels for the Amazon products, plus packing slips for both Amazon and Ebay and a shipping label. So how are we getting around this printing issue?

We ‘re using Office Depot.

This does slow us down a bit in sending items into Amazon, but since our local Office Depot is in the mall area near my day job, it’s easy enough to pop in and have something printed.

Our work flow looks something like this. We list 30 items in our Amazon inventory (because there are 30 labels on a sheet of address labels) and apply them to a shipping plan. I tell Amazon Seller Central to print the labels and it creates a PDF document of the labels. I save this document and email it to myself. I’ll also tell Seller Central I’m ready to move forward with the shipments and it will divide up the SKUs I’m sending in, tell me where each item is going, and then I can create the packing slips. When I tell Seller Central to print the packing slips for each warehouse, they’re also created in a PDF document. I save each one depending on which warehouse the shipment is heading to – Chattanooga Packing slip, Phoenix Packing slip, etc – and then email them to myself.

At some point during the day I’ll run down to Office Depot and ask to use the computer at the print and ship station. Yes, they have a computer there for people to use. I’ve seen people apply for jobs on that computer, among other things. I’ll log into my email and pull up the attachments, letting the employees know that one of the items I need to print are the 30P address labels. Once the attachments are pulled up, they send them to the correct printer and I leave with the packing slips and a sheet of the labels. This costs less than $1.

Back at home that evening we’ll label the items and place them in a box for the correct warehouse. I’ll write on the box which warehouse each item will be going to. Once they’re all packed, the packing slip goes into the box and taped up. Back in Seller Central, I input the weight and dimensions of the box and it creates a shipping label. I tell it to print the shipping labels and I have another PDF document. I save it, email it to myself, and carry the boxes into work with me the next day. I head down to Office Depot again with the boxes, use their computer, print the shipping label, tape it on the correct box (they’re marked) and leave it with the print and ship department.

And this is how we get items ready for Amazon FBA without a working printer at home. Yes, it causes delays when we have to go to Office Depot to print, and I do plan on getting a Dymo thermal printer for the labels in the future. This will help speed up the time a bit until we’re able to get a printer that uses cheaper ink. But we can see how this will help us when we’re traveling as well. After a day of sourcing and retail arbitrage, we can use our tablet or netbook to list items on Amazon while hanging out at a local McDonald’s or another place with free wi-fi, use Office Depot for printing, and a few hours later have everything on the way to Amazon.

There’s no excuse to not start some type of freedom business. There are alternatives for the equipment you need, using a work sharing space, or yes, even using Office Depot computers or a library when needed. If you have a dream, take the first step, and that step of faith will bring you the equipment and resources you’ll need in the future.

2015 update – we still don’t have a printer. We still use Office Depot or Office Max whenever we need something printed. 


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