Dealing with Multiple Inventory Locations in QuickBooks 2016

By Stephen L. Nelson

With rather elegant simplicity, QuickBooks handles your inventory and gets the job done well for many businesses. Unfortunately, you will likely encounter a real headache when using the most common versions of QuickBooks for inventory. What if you store inventory in multiple locations — for example, in a Michigan warehouse and in a Chicago distribution facility? Or in a couple of retail locations — one on the right side of the tracks and the other one on the wrong side of the tracks?

The problem is that QuickBooks is set up to deal with a single inventory location. So although you can know how much inventory you have in total, if you aren’t careful, you won’t know how much is in Michigan and how much is in Chicago. And you can’t even really check on inventory shrinkage because QuickBooks’ records don’t tie to location-specific inventory counts.

Now, you need to know upfront that you don’t have any cheap, good way to deal with this in versions of QuickBooks. You do have a couple of sloppy cheap fixes as described in the following paragraphs. And you have a good — though expensive — way, which is stepping up to the Enterprise Solutions version of QuickBooks.

Manually keep separate inventory-by-location counts

If you have only a handful of items in your little business — say, a few dozen — it’s pretty easy to keep a simple manual running tab on what you have in the Michigan warehouse and what’s in the Chicago distribution facility.

Such a system is very … er, crude. It may just be a couple of sticky notes taped to your computer monitor. No kidding. Still, it lets you know how much inventory you have (roughly) and where it’s stored. And for some purposes, that works okay.

Use different item numbers for different locations

The embarrassingly crude approach above doesn’t work if you have a lot of items, so the approach won’t work for a multiple-location retailer. Accordingly, if you’re a retailer with a large number of items, you probably need to create sets of item numbers for each inventory location. This means a lot more work for you, of course, but it’s really the only practical way to handle your inventory if you have more than a handful of items.

Upgrade to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions

If you want a really robust approach to inventory management, including the capability to deal with multiple inventory locations, you should consider stepping up to the Enterprise Solutions version of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions effectively deals with situations where you’re holding inventory in multiple locations and transferring inventory between locations with the Advanced Inventory feature. The Enterprise Solutions of QuickBooks further supercharges inventory management by supporting serial numbers and lot tracking, so businesses can closely track batches of inventory items and even specific items.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions costs considerably more than QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier. Currently, for example, the Intuit website quotes the price for up to five users as roughly $3,500. And the advanced inventory features run roughly about another grand a year. You can, by the way, step up the number of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions users for additional money. Roughly (and this is a ballpark number) you pay about $10,000 to have up to 30 users. (Keep an eye out for discounts.)