Every products-based business relies on an inventory management system to support it. For many e-commerce, retail, and small businesses, that system is Quickbooks Online.
Google “Quickbooks Online for inventory tracking” and you’ll be greeted with a host of helpful how-to guides and content. On the surface, it’s relatively easy to set up and start using. There’s plenty of online content to answer your questions and set you up for success.
The real question you should ask is this: Is Quickbooks Online the best inventory tracking system for my business?
Here’s an objective overview of QBO’s pros and cons specifically related to inventory management to help you decide.
Pro: Quickbooks Online is intuitive and user-friendly.
User-friendliness might sound cliche, but it really matters in a fast-paced business setting. No one has time to spend clicking in circles through a clunky interface. This is especially important for product-based businesses, where customers judge you on how quickly they receive their items.
The interface itself is straightforward. You can set up dashboards to give you an overview of your most important data. And you can dive deeper into individual records and categories with just a couple of clicks.
Con: There’s a lack of industry-specific features.
Think of Quickbooks Online like a restaurant that only serves water: it gets the job done when you’re thirsty, but doesn’t cater to personal needs or preferences.
QBO is used by a lot of different types of businesses: retailers, hair salons, accountants, restaurants, jewelry stores, and artisans, to name a few.
It’s an effective general accounting and bookkeeping software. If the basics are all you need, then this isn’t an issue. But some companies will benefit from features that are specific to their industry.
For example, if you require more sophisticated warehouse management tools, you may want to look elsewhere. How will you manage stock priority if you have special needs like FIFO? Will you track expiration dates and lot numbers? Do you need to implement strategies to help your pickers find the items they need more quickly? Will you need to track serial numbers for your electronics products? Do you need a mobile application for receiving, counting, and picking processes so you aren’t tethered to a desk?
These questions, among others, may guide your decision.
Pro: Quickbooks Online includes basic inventory management functionality.
One of the features included in the Plus and Advanced plans is inventory management. Companies can track quantities in stock, get alerts when it’s time to restock, and see exactly what you’re buying and selling.
Setting up inventory tracking takes just a few minutes. Quickbooks Online includes inventory templates, where you can input costs and account information. Enter a starting quantity, then QBO will track it from there on out. It also lets you know when it’s time to reorder or stop stocking particular items.
Once you add inventory items, you can quickly add them as line items to your sales forms. You can also add non-inventory items and services in the same way.
Quickbooks Online provides an excellent how-to guide on how to set up inventory tracking.
Con: It isn’t purpose-built for inventory management.
QBO is first and foremost a bookkeeping and accounting software. Inventory management is a minor feature in QBO, not the focus.
What this usually means is that you’ll get a few basic features that can simplify your life compared with having no inventory software at all. But when stacked up against a purpose-built inventory tracking system? There’s really no comparison for businesses who plan to scale their fulfillment operation to handle high volumes.
With this in mind, it’s best to look at what Quickbooks Online does NOT offer in terms of inventory management.
First, there’s no back order tracking. You’ll need to rely on some other way to track unshipped orders.
Surprisingly, there’s also a lack of custom fields for inventory. Unlike its desktop counterparts (Enterprise, Pro/Premier), QBO doesn’t offer custom fields to help you track inventory in a way that makes sense for you (e.g. color, size, style, etc.).
Negative inventory quantities can also cause unnecessary headaches. For example, you can’t close an accounting period when you have one or more items showing negative. To remedy this, you’d have to change all negative values manually, which can eat up a lot of time.
These issues likely wouldn’t exist if QBO were purpose-built for inventory management. This is why many e-commerce companies, retailers, and small businesses that need inventory functionality look for integrations to fill in the gaps.
Pro: Quickbooks Online integrates with third-party applications.
We should know this, since Zenventory is one of them!
Third-party applications take an already-powerful platform and make it even more feature-rich. According to Quickbooks, 86% of its users agree that adding apps can save them time. Apps are excellent workarounds since the platform isn’t purpose-built for any specific industry.
Quickbooks Online has its own app store, where you can download and connect free and premium apps to your software setup. Apps range from payroll, invoicing, and taxes to HR, customer management, and yes, inventory tracking.
Con: QBO’s limitations for inventory management might become more problematic as you grow.
We’ve pointed out a number of pitfalls of using QBO for inventory tracking. Depending on your company size and goals right now, these inefficiencies might not matter much in the grand scheme of things. But consider if that will still be the case as your business grows.
Limited inventory features may impact your ability to scale quickly. You might be spending more time on manual tasks than you used to. Workflows may become more complex to work around these limitations, costing time and money.
These are things that deserve consideration before they become business-stifling issues.
How Zenventory Expands Quickbooks Online Inventory Tracking
Zenventory is now available in the Quickbooks Online app store. We sympathize with the challenges our customers experience when they outgrow the basic inventory features in QuickBooks. That’s why we designed our services to solve your biggest pain points and give you more functionality and control over your inventory.
We’re a full-service warehouse management software solution that simplifies how you view, order, and fulfill inventory across multiple locations. We’ve added features like purchase order processing, picking and packing, integrated shipping, and inbound receiving to QBO to help you run a better warehouse.
Learn more about the Zenventory integration with Quickbooks Online and how to get more from your accounting system.