QuickBooks Inventory — a Primer

Many small businesses have inventory — whether it is just a small amount of hair care products in a beauty salon or a whole nursery full of plants — it’s something that you need to keep track of properly.

We’ve found that many small businesspeople rely on an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of their inventory, but did you know that QuickBooks has inventory functionality as well?  QuickBooks can help you manage the costs of your inventory and even let you know when it is time to order more goods.  Here’s a quick summary of the options that are available to you:

Within QuickBooks: The inventory functionality depends on which version of QB you use.  For example, QB Pro can track the things that you sell using a feature called “items”.  As you purchase your inventory from a vendor, you’ll tell QuickBooks to add those items (20 bottles of shampoo, for instance) to your inventory.  When you sell these items, you tell QuickBooks to remove them from inventory.  When your stock gets low, QB will remind you to reorder, and you’ll also be able to run reports that show how well the items are selling (the 20 oz. bottle of shampoo brought in $x profit while the hair gel brought in $y profit).  These pieces of information are crucial to running your business efficiently.

When should you NOT use QuickBooks inventory?  If you sell unique items — such as antiques, then the inventory feature may not be a good fit.  If you keep more than one of each type of product in stock and if you need to periodically re-order, then QB inventory is a good fit.

If you need a little more oomph than what QB Pro offers, then consider QB Enterprise.  QuickBooks Enterprise allows you to track hundreds of thousands of pieces of inventory, much more than any other version of QB Pro.  Intuit also offers an Advanced Inventory add-on that will allow for FIFO costing and serial/lot tracking and multiple location tracking.  QB Enterprise is significantly more expensive than the other versions, so we would highly recommend you speak to a ProAdvisor before you implement this program.

QuickBooks Point of Sale is another option from Intuit.  Point of Sale will allow bar code scanning, and will track your inventory as you sell and receive items amoung other things.  QB Point of Sale starts at around $1000, but it handles the needs of a retail business very well.


With an Add-On: In addition to QB’s features, there are add-on products to handle inventory as well.  One that comes to mind that we have used before is called Fishbowl.  Fishbowl will allow you to use LIFO and standard costing as well as average costing (all versions of QB use this) and FIFO (Enterprise has this option as well), keep track of consignment items, and allow you to print and scan barcodes among other things.  If you have varying price levels for the same item, then you may need something like Fishbowl to handle this as well. Your license allows unlimited access to training videos and phone call support (phone calls to a certain time limit), which is a nice feature.  Again, this add-on comes at a price tag that starts at $4,395 (as of May 29, 2012), so make sure that you consult an expert to give you guidance on the implementation.  There are other add-ons out there as well, feel free to leave a comment below if you have one that you’d like to suggest.


Here at our office, we have 3 QuickBooks ProAdvisors on staff, one of which is a Certified Advanced ProAdvisor.  We’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss the options that you have in order to help your business thrive.  Feel free to give us a call at 770-478-7424 whether or not you are in the Atlanta area.


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