I brought up an interesting topic Friday that I breezed over that I would like to explore some more, the topic was Bulk Material Handling which I mentioned in Stockpiles, Backlogs, and Inventory, and I think it opens up to an interesting topic related to our exploits in World of Warcraft: Material and Inventory Management. The average goblin makes most of their gold from manufacturing, buying materials, distributing them to me crafter, process them (milling prospecting), craft them into sellable items, send the items back to your banker and then sell. All this means an awful lot of inventory running through ours hand, into our bags and banks, mailed to various characters, and posted on the auction house. This process easily takes up the majority of a manufacturing-oriented goblin’s time and as well all know, time is money.
Many goblins and gold bloggers live and die by Gold Per Hour calculations and it certainly is a very useful tool (albeit with some problems, which alas will have to wait for another day to discuss) but too many people focus on maximizing the gold part of the calculation while letting the hour figure lie where it falls. Properly streamlining your inventory management can improve your GPH in your manufacturing markets, give you more time in the day to focus on other markets and activities, and even improve your sales. Lets explore shall we?
One of the first lessons an aspiring goblin learns is to get an addon (these days usually TradeSkillMaster, though I’m still fond of ZeroAuctions) that will automate the posting process, speeding up the process through a one button interface, and deciding what to post and for how much, all using simple pre-set rules. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and dates back to, as far as I can tell, QuickAuctions.This is the first step in reducing your time factor, and it is the big one, as it eliminates potential errors as well, protecting the gold factor of your GPH. Everybody and their grandmother seems to have something to say about posting addons, so I’m not going to spend much time on it today.
The next logical step people take to shorten their processing times is to get an addon to open their mail incoming from the auction house, and possibly one to send item out automatically as well. This makes sense as we get all our sales and returns through the mail, so it’s a logical extension of the auction house, as well as being our primary source of moving goods between characters. Common addons people use for this are Postal, MailOpener, or TSM_Mailing and they all work admirably for their intended purpose. The simple use of these addons can nearly automate mail exchange and let you wander off while you do something more important. I personally use all three; MailOpener can be set to open all auction house mail while letting you sort out C.o.D., attachment mail, mail with gold, and regular mail yourself. TSM_Mailing can be easily set to mail mats to your crafters, and the results back to your banker(s) at the push of a button, and easily handling jewelcrafting jewellery without so much of a fuss. Postal is convenient for remember your alt’s names and auto filling the To field with the last character you mailed too. I really can’t stress enough how important having a high functioning mailing system is to your manufacturing inventory management and distribution.
Once you’ve got all your crafting materials to were you need to go, one of the trickiest parts of your material management is handling the near infinite flow of goods in and out of your crafting characters with finite bag and bank space. In this stage of the game bag space is huge, investing in as much bag and bank space as possible. Bag and bank sorting here is important as well, so I suggest you find a bag management addon that fits well with you, as there are many out there in several different flavours. You’ll want one that displays all your bags in one handy view, lets you sort by armour, mats, consumables etc. and by quality of item. A function to organize the bag (tidy things up) is also a plus though you can find stand alones that do this excellently. I recommend Combuctor for a bag addon, BankStack for organizing the bags, and StackPack to automatically stack jewelcrafting gems until they fix that little problem in 4.3. Another addon that can go a long way to help manage inventory once it’s in your bags or banks is Dumpster, and while I don’t use it myself it can be used to move massive amounts of items between bags and banks, especially useful if you’re heavy in the glyph business.
Unfortunately that’s the easy part, what really becomes tricky is figuring out what to craft in what quantities and when. For those using TradeSkillMaster this addon has built in functions in the profession settings for keeping stock, and while I have some qualms about this particular feature in the addon, it’ gets the job done, and integrates well of course with the rest of the addon. For finer control I suggest Inventorium, which integrates well with ZeroAuctions and Auctioneer and is designed solely for managing crafting stocks. Inventorium can also be used with TradeSkillMaster but at the cost of a lot of integration with other addons (and of course there’s also the option of running Auctioneer with Inventorium and TradeSkillMaster).
The last step of the chain is actually turning the base materials into something sellable. The bulk of a manufacturing oriented goblin’s sales are more often than not be derived from the Obsidium Shuffle and a lot of the time involved in the shuffle is devoted to prospecting all the ore, which is a huge time sink and no way to automate it as there is with crafting items through the profession window. Worry not my fellow goblins for Pliaksi over at The Consortium has released the Consortium Key Sender, a handy tool to, within the confines of the ToS, get as close to automating pretty much anything in the game, including prospecting, milling, and disenchanting when combined with some handy macros. What it basically does is sends users inputs from other windows or applications to the game as a specific button, staying perfectly within the confines of the ToS by keeping it to the required ratio of 1 user input generating one button press per warcraft client open, which is basically what multi-boxers do, except this is wrapped up in a tidy profession oriented user interface. They key to maximizing the use of this program is that it lets you multitask, say like writing a blog post *cough cough* while prospecting elementium ore in the background, and in general making the prospecting (or milling or disenchanting) task more bearable.
While a goblin has little say over what sells and for how much (it’s all dependant on market variables) a goblin can do much to reduce how much time he spends on his gold making activities, increasing his GPH, and allowing him to explore other activities, even if it’s simply more markets. It’s rather depressing how little attention people pay to their production chain, when mismanaging it can lead to products not reaching the shelves, and unnecessary hours spent correcting the confusion; hell, real world markets, they have entire departments devoted to keeping stock moving, so why are we ignoring this so much?