Shipping Phase 2: Sorting
Once we close pre-ordering on the sketched editions it is time for me to begin sorting. By this time I have over 1000 pieces of paper stacked in my filebox. Each piece of paper represents and order. I have to make sure not to lose any papers or else that order will fail to be sent. This is why I try to do sorting when all the kids are out of the house. Before I start sorting and after I'm done sorting, finding an order to modify it is fairly simple. Trying to find an order mid-sort is tricky, so I try to plow through the sorting quickly. The sorting process is actually a series of sorts. Each one getting more refined so that I have stacks of similar orders ready for packaging. I have to do it so many different times because if I make the each sort simple, I can do it quickly. If I have to think, then the sort takes forever.
First sort: I focus just on the contents of the order. If the order contains a sketched edition, it goes in one pile. If it contains a regular edition, it goes into a different pile. If an order contains neither, then I've made a mistake and filed an order that should already have been sent. I send it out asap. Then I put all the non-sketched orders back into the filebox. I'm still in collection phase for non-sketched orders. I'll sort them later.
Second sort: Now I focus on the shipping method. Parcel post, US priority mail, international priority mail, international first class, international first class Canada/Mexico, and International priority Canada/Mexico each get their own piles. Each shipping category represents a different pricing structure for the postage and different packaging requirements. I need to have them separated out both for printing postage and for the packaging. When I am done, I put each of the stacks into it's own hanging file with a temporary label, such as "parcel post sketched"
Third sort: I take one of the stacks from the second sort (Lets say "parcel post sketched") and I sort again. This time I am focused on whether the order contains a single book or multiple items. The orders with multiple items are set aside for a moment.
Fourth sort: I now sort my stack of orders and sort them based on which sketch the order requested. I now have stacks containing a single book, all the same sketch, all the same shipping method. I put these stacks into a file box labeled accordingly.
Fifth sort: I sort the orders containing multiple items by weight. I know the approximate weights of all our merchandise and so I do quick calculations in my head. I then label the stacks by shipping method and weight. These stacks will be more complex to handle on the packaging end, but there really isn't much I can do to simplify orders which all contain multiple different items. These stacks are put into the filebox in labeled hanging folders.
I now repeat sorts 3-5 for all the other stacks that I made during sort 2. I also make a tally count of how many of each sketch type we need to create.
Sixth sort: I take one of the many labeled piles from it's hanging folder. I now sort the pile alphabetically by the last name of the shipping address. This is necessary because the mailing labels will print out in alphabetical order and we need to be able to match the printed invoices to the labels. Repeat this sort for all the piles being mailed inside the US. This sort does not apply to international orders, because those require customs forms and postage can not be printed in batches.
Hurray I'm done! ...Except I still have all those regular orders that are still in the collection phase. So I wait a couple of weeks and repeat sorts 2-6 for all of the non-sketched orders. Next phase will be Phase 3 Inventory Preparation