Don’t Do Unnecessary Work
Question: In QuickBooks, I prefer to set up items as categories, such as apparel or pens, and type in the individual descriptions. Is there any reason not to do it that way? I feel like I'm going to end up with too many items otherwise.
Answer: I can understand why you might want to do it this way to track sales of certain types of items, such as pens, but you are making more work for yourself than necessary by having to re-enter the item description with each and every order.
Instead, if, for example, you set up item CS as “BIC Clic Stics” with BIC Graphic as the preferred vendor, you will not have to enter this data again. The next time you get an order for these pens, you merely enter “CS,” and the description will auto-populate on your sales order, and the supplier purchase order will put BIC Graphic as the supplier. If you want to track pen orders, or any other product segment, you can set up classes of items to do so.
Finally, QuickBooks Premier allows for up to 14,500 different items. While this might be a problem if you were a manufacturer with many pieces for each of your products that you need to inventory and track, this is rarely a problem for distributors. Our clients tend to reorder items, and we tend to go back to favorite items, so 14,500 should be adequate for all but the largest of distributors. I would suggest, however, that you only set up one item for each apparel item. For instance, I would set up Item No. 5,000 for a Gildan T-Shirt with the general description once. When you are writing a purchase order, you can add to the description for color and sizes. You do not need to create an item for each color or size.
Please email accounting questions you would like considered for the column to HGatter@AccountingSupportLLC.com with the subject line of "Ask the Accountant."
Harriet Gatter, owner of Accounting Support LLC, was an ad specialty distributor for 23 years and an adjunct professor of accounting at Neumann University. She sold her ad specialty business in 2012, became certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and now works exclusively with ad specialty distributors nationwide on their QuickBooks, order management and accounting needs.