For years, I have maintained that the most powerful force in the World of Warcraft is Inventory. Today, I'm going to talk about why that is, and how it works. Inventory refers to the amount of end goods you keep in stock to sell. It is not materials for those end goods; it is the end goods themselves. I'll talk more about materials in future posts in this series. In fact, most all of the posts in this series will be closely inter-related.
Inventory allows you to save time. And time - is money. At the most fundamental level, if you post an item for sale - let's say Moss Agate because I like to pick on that little gem - that gets undercut, your next move is generally to undercut the lowest auction yourself. Now, if you have extra Moss Agates sitting in your bags, then this is straightforward - you hit the AH and post it. But if most or all of your MAs are sitting on the AH, then you've to cancel those that have been undercut, loot them from the mail, and THEN you can post them on the AH.
That sounds straightforward enough - and it is. Plenty of gold makers, rich and not-so-rich do it everyday. But it takes time. There are addons that help with this, but imagine you're dealing with a more large-scale business like glyphs - with 444 separate items to track, post, cancel, loot from mail, and repost. That adds up to a lot of time.
I'm gonna pick on some goldmakers for a bit - don't worry I still love you all :) But there are folks who post glyphs and think they're quite clever because they can make every glyph and post them all from a single toon. You might ask - how can a single toon handle 444 different items in terms of inventory? Well, they only make as many as they're going to post and then post them to clear bag space. Which is fine, but what happens when they get undercut?
They'd have to run a full cancel scan, loot the mailbox in waves of ~144 (or however many glyphs their bags can hold), and then post each wave until they're finished with all their glyphs. It's three waves (a little more, but I'm being generous) for those of you doing the math. Their own logistics creates more work for them. The sanitized, military term for this is "stepping on your meat". It's not the best way to about things.
Now, I like to use glyphs because they're an eccentric, yet accessible example of a lot of the points of power, which extend quite nicely to other markets. But let's imagine a goblin who keeps Five of each glyph he makes in Inventory competing against the person that keeps all his inventory posted (call it 1 of each glyph). So 5-dude posts, then gets undercut by 1-dude. 5-dude comes back, runs another post scan later in the day, and undercuts 1-dude. 1-dude now has to take 10 minutes to undercut, compared to 5-dude's three. And that's fantastic - because 5-dude can do this three more times before he even has to loot his mailbox.
Counting 3 minutes per post cycle and 10 minutes for that worst-case undercut of 1-dude, the 1-dude spends 43 minutes a day doing what 5-dude does in 15 minutes. Now are those numbers precise? I don't know. I haven't taken a stopwatch to different types of glyphing ops. But it sounds about right. I can tell you one thing - 1-dude is gonna have a hard time reposting while the raid takes its 10-minute break. You see, in glyphs, and in many markets, an edge of a single minute can accumulate hours saved in a week or month. That doesn't mean you need to be all Speed Racer as you go through your routine - enjoy it and have fun, but stepping on your meat usually isn't part of that fun.
But we're not done here. Inventory goes beyond just being able to skip cancelling to repost. It also keeps you from having to loot your mail so often. This is key in large, stackable markets - like glyphs. Let's say you have a toon with a 5-stock of 140 glyphs that posts in singles 4x a day on 12-hour auctions. That's 560 auctions / day. I'd bet 500+ of those expire, too.
Looting mail can be a pain in the butt. Especially when we're talking about that much of it. You can only see 50 mails at a time, and the mailbox only refreshes itself once per minute. Some folks will force a /reload of their ui to get around this 60-second refresh timer on the mail, but that requires you to be there at the keyboard babysitting your mail looting. And unless your computer is fairly powerful, you may not be able to loot 50 mails and reload your ui in less than a minute, anyway.
Now, if you've a mailbox addon like Postal or TSM_Mailing, these will open all your mail, loot all 50, wait for the mailbox refresh and then resume looting the next 50, until your mailbox is done. Our dude is still waiting ~10 minutes for his mail to full empty / loot. But now he can walk away and have a sandwich or clean the kitchen or check the steaks on the grill outside while that happens.
One of the things that's important to keep track of as a goldmaker is your available afk / semi-afk cycles. I'll talk more about that in a future post. But Inventory's advantages don't stop at just skipping cancelling and consolidated, afk-able mail looting - there's more! Inventory also keeps you from having to recraft so often.
This may not sound like much - after all, there are addons that help with that, right? Well, of course, but even recrafting with addons takes time. Why do we recraft at all? So that we have inventory to post - because if you don't have anything to post, you won't have a chance to make a sale. Recrafting is what restocks our inventory. Let's use another glyph example: suppose we've a lady that keeps a 15-stock of all the glyphs she sells.
15-lady posts 3 times a day in singles. At this level of inventory, she can post for 5 days straight without ever even having to loot her mail. By the same math, she could sell out of an item every time she posted and not run out. But that rarely happens. Let's say that she does really well, though, with her bestselling glyph and sells 13 a week. What this allows her to do is recraft her glyphs only once a week, since she doesn't really run a risk of running out of inventory. Compare that to someone who has to manage inks and recrafting 2,3, even 5 times a week. You can save lot of time by effectively consolidating the frequency at which you need to recraft, just by having more inventory.
What's more is that, if you use the add-on TradeSkillMaster (which is what i use for glyphs), then you can save yourself even more time. TSM has a minimum restock quantity feature that helps me a lot. By default this is set to 1, but I keep an 18 stock of glyphs (I do not recommend going over a full stack of inventory for glyphs because the logistics break down very quickly). So if I sell 1 or 2 of a glyph over a week, I really don't need to make 1 or 2 more to get me through the next week. If I set this minimum restock quantity to 5, then TSM will only queue up that glyph when I'm down to 13 in inventory - which means it takes ~3 weeks before it queues. This saves me some time and energy while I'm crafting. Because crafting goes faster the fewer clicks I have to make. Extrapolate that across a potential 444 glyphs and I'm saving a solid handful of minutes every week like this.
What all of this boils down to is wielding a bigger stock than your competition. By making your logistics efficient, and spending less time than your competition on your AH routine, you're better equipped to outlast them. In many markets, dealing with competitors can be a matter of attrition - this is no more true in any other market than glyphs, but it also applies in gems, scrolls, and other markets. Inventory frees up your time to do other things - level alts, expand into more professions, post more often, or just play other parts of the game.
Hope that sinks in. I'm not trying to bash on anyone for being sub-optimal here - I just want to show you guys the goldmaking tips that the pros use. Hope enjoyed the first entry of the series and stick around for the rest!