For businesses that are just getting started, inventory management may seem like an afterthought. After all, when compared to immediate concerns such as designing a business strategy, recruiting and training an effective team, and growing a reliable customer base, handling inventory is often forced to take a backseat. In fact it’s speculated that nearly half of small businesses in the United States rely on spreadsheets to other manual methods for tracking inventory, or simply don’t track inventory at all.
This is unfortunate, because proper inventory management is at the heart of small business success. Without enough on-hand inventory to meet customer demand, your business is essentially leaving money on the table. At the same time, overstocked and unsold products tie up valuable capital and storage space
With this in mind, many small businesses are looking for an inventory-management service capable of meeting their needs without breaking the bank. And for these businesses that demand accurate inventory on a budget, QuickBooks inventory management can seem like an obvious answer.
What Is QuickBooks Inventory?
Most small to medium-sized businesses are already familiar with QuickBooks accounting software. Making it easy for users to track income and expenses, generate reports, pay bills, manage payroll, and more, QuickBooks has become an essential part of the small-business toolbox. And because accounting and inventory often go hand-in-hand, many small businesses are looking towards QuickBooks as a possible inventory solution.
However, QuickBooks doesn't actually offer stand-alone inventory software, though they do have great options inside their well-known accounting software for accurate and real-time inventory management.
Many QuickBooks solutions include basic but comprehensive inventory functions. Small businesses that are interested in managing small amounts of inventory, but aren’t interested in investing large amounts of money can still benefit from what QuickBooks has to offer. That said, businesses that need more advanced inventory management features may benefit from solutions such a Fishbowl.
The Advantages of QuickBooks Inventory
As previously stated, QuickBooks is accounting software, first and foremost. And because every business needs accounting, and QuickBooks is the number-one accounting software choice for small businesses, it makes sense for many organizations to simply use their existing QuickBooks solutions’ built-in inventory control tools. These tools may not be the most comprehensive inventory-management resources, but they can still get the job done. This is particularly true when it comes down to the choice between paying extra for additional software, or using what’s already available in Quickbooks.
And honestly, what’s already available is still fairly respectable. QuickBooks inventory is significantly more accurate than manual inventory management. QuickBooks provides real-time inventory tracking and automatically syncs with accounting, so that the two are always up to date and in agreement.
Another advantage of QuickBooks inventory is ease of use. QuickBooks makes learning inventory management software easy, just like they do accounting.
And probably the most important advantage for small businesses is that Quickbooks inventory management is much more budget friendly than many inventory-specific software options.
QuickBooks Inventory Management Features
OK. We’ve discussed some of the benefits of using QuickBooks for inventory management, but what exactly can the software do?
QuickBooks Online plans are capable of handling basic inventory tracking. This includes tracking costs and products, identifying high-sales items, managing vendors, creating purchase orders, and providing notifications when inventory levels drop. The QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise plan is also capable of more-advanced features, including managing sales orders, tracking inventory in multiple locations, bin or serial numbers, printing and scanning labels, and more.
In terms of pricing, QuickBooks offers two different products: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. The biggest difference between these two options is that QuickBooks Online operates within the cloud and features a monthly pricing model. QuickBooks Desktop, on the other hand, has various pricing models and generally consists of on-premises software locally installed at your place of business, although additional options do allow you to host QuickBooks in the cloud.
QuickBooks Online has four plans, two of which (Plus and Advanced) offer inventory management. The options range from $70 – $150 per month, and provide general report and tracking functionality, bill management, transaction tagging, time management and more. These cloud-based options are among the least expensive viable inventory solutions currently available. If you’re interested in giving them a try, Fishbowl offers a 50% discount for the first 12 months
QuickBooks Desktop has more built-in inventory functionality. QuickBooks Pro plan runs $299.95, and QuickBooks Premier costs $499.95 for subscriptions, though discounts are available. The most expensive option is the QuickBooks Enterprise plan, priced at $1,275 per year. These plans can offer basic inventory tracking, warehouse management, serial and lot tracking, mobile barcode scanning, client billing, and more. Fishbowl offers great discounts on these Desktop options.
Adding Inventory to QuickBooks
If you already have a QuickBooks Online subscription or are using the QuickBooks Desktop app, then setting up inventory tracking is fairly straightforward. Here, we detail the steps you’ll need to take to start tracking inventory in QuickBooks.
QuickBooks Online (Plus and Advanced)
- Open QuickBooks Online.
- Go to the Products and Services Dashboard.
- Select New.
- Retrieve a new window for an individual product by selecting Choose Inventory.
- Input the product name and fill out all available fields.
- Add any additional images, product descriptions, or relevant notes you would like to keep.
- Select Save to finalize the process and add the product to your inventory.
You can also import product spreadsheets into QuickBooks Online in the Products and Services Dashboard by selecting new, followed by import. You can then make any necessary edits to the uploaded inventory information.
QuickBooks Desktop (Enterprise Platinum)
- Open QuickBooks Desktop.
- Go to the edit menu.
- Select Preferences.
- In the left-pane Items & Inventory option, open the Company Preferences tab.
- Check the box for Inventory and Purchase Orders are Active.
- Select the Advanced Inventory Settings button.
Occasionally, the Advanced Inventory Settings option may be grayed out, even for those who have purchased the feature. If this is the case, you may have to sync your licencing data. Click here for a helpful guide on how to do that.
If you’re a QuickBooks subscriber, then you may already have access to budget-friendly inventory management tools. And while these built-in functions may seem rudimentary when compared to inventory-specific software options, many small businesses see this as an acceptable tradeoff. After all, if you’re already paying for a reliable accounting software, then why not use it for inventory management as well?
QuickBooks inventory options may be the most affordable inventory solution on the market, and many small businesses find that QuickBook more than covers their needs. Those businesses that need a more comprehensive solution may consider expanding the inventory-management capabilities with additional services.
Whether a business is well established or just starting out, inventory management should never be an afterthought. If you’d like to learn more about QuickBooks inventory features, contact Fishbowl today for a demo.