Intuit introduced the multiple inventory site feature in QuickBooks Enterprise V11, as a part of the optional Advanced Inventory feature. This allowed you to create up to 200 Inventory Sites to hold your QuickBooks inventory. This year they are expanding this feature to add a second level, Locations within Inventory Sites, which is something that many people have been asking for. Let’s see how this changes things.
PLEASE NOTE that much of this is based on information from an early release candidate of QuickBooks 2013 – it is possible that some features may vary from what is described here. Also, this applies strictly to the U.S. editions of QuickBooks in the Windows environment. The UK and Canadian versions may include some of these features.
The general concept of inventory sites was that you would define a small number of places where you could hold your inventory – along the lines of multiple warehouses or store locations. Intuit wasn’t talking about specific “bins” or places within the warehouse, they were thinking on a larger scale. Given this approach, in Enterprise V11 and V12 they limited the number of inventory sites to 200. That works for large scale “sites”, but it doesn’t fit the bill for many people. If you have a warehouse with a lot of unique bin locations then the initial release Advanced Inventory didn’t work well for you.
In QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions V13 we now have the ability to define locations within those sites. And, the limit in this list is now capped at 1,000,000 entries, which should be more widely acceptable.
Note that sometimes QuickBooks refers to this as the location feature, sometimes as the bin location feature.
Enabling QuickBooks Bin Locations for Inventory Sites
This feature is only available in QuickBooks Enterprise with the optional Advanced Inventory subscription. In your Preferences select Items & Inventory and click the Advanced Inventory Settings button.
If you have not enabled Multiple Inventory Sites already, you will need to check that box. This will open the Enable Multiple Inventory Sites window, where you can create an inventory site for your current inventory. All of your items on hand will be moved to this inventory site.
Now that you have an inventory site created (or, if you already had this set up) you can enable the new location feature by checking the Track Locations within Inventory Sites box. QuickBooks doesn’t ask you for a name for the starting bin location, instead it will place everything in a bin location named Unassigned.
When you enable location tracking you do NOT get to specify the default name. This is not good. I dislike “Unassigned” as that may have special meaning to me. You can’t easily do a bulk rename for this (there is a separate “Unassigned” location for each site). To get your items to the bin location that you want you have to do an individual transfer transaction for every item. This could be a major pain point for some businesses.
Bin Locations are essentially “sub-sites”, similar to what you have with items and sub-items. As you can see, the new Unassigned bin location is shown as a lower level of the Main Warehouse site that I just created. Here’s an example from a file where I already had several inventory sites established.
You can add new inventory sites and locations to the Inventory Site List (found in the Lists menu). Here’s a window to add a new inventory site.
If you wish to add a location within a given site you will use the same window – check the is a location within site box and select the inventory site that holds this bin location.
When you enable this feature you have a new option in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature for inventory sites, and you can see the locations in the list. However, I do have a problem with the way this is managed (at least in this first release, I hope they will change it in the future). Note that the inventory site name shows in the first column for an inventory site, but that for a location the inventory site name is now pushed to the second column.
Why is this a problem for me? Well, other than the issue of being a bit hard to follow, it creates a big problem if you want to import location names from an Excel spreadsheet. To me, it would be logical to have my locations listed like this in Excel:
However, if I paste this into QuickBooks, it isn’t formatted right. This won’t work.
How about if I reverse the columns? This works!
OK, so not too bad. However, the problem comes if you want to import both inventory sites and locations at the same time. You have to either enter the inventory site by itself, first, and then the locations, or you have to create a spreadsheet that has the columns mixed up. I don’t particularly like this.
This is not a big problem as most people won’t be doing this on a regular basis, I think, It is just something that should have been done in a better way.
Using Bin Locations
Now that we have it set up, whenever you have a transaction where items are received, sold, adjusted or built you have the option to specify both the inventory site and the bin location. You will have to select the inventory site to be able to see a list of the bin locations.
To help you be more efficient, if there is only one bin location defined for this inventory site then QuickBooks will fill in the value for you automatically, rather than having you use the dropdown list.
One minor annoyance – in the dropdown list for location you can see the indented list of sites and locations. You can pick a site in this column, which you shouldn’t be able to do. Yes, QuickBooks warns you that you can’t do this, after you have selected it. But why let me pick a bad value in the first place? The site shouldn’t show in this dropdown.
As you would expect, when you are receiving items you can specify a site and location. There is, however, another nifty feature that has been added, a Stock List report sorted by site/location.
Here’s my item receipt, with items that I’ve received at different sites and locations. Note that in the top ribbon bar there is a print icon, and one of the options is the stock list.
The Stock List report shows all of the items, sorted by Site and Location. This is a VERY useful feature.
Similar to what we see in the item receipt, you can get a pick list for a sales order that is sorted by site/location. You’ll find this in the Print button menu.
There are a couple of nice things when working with sales forms and how locations work with lot tracking and serial numbers:
- If you enter an item, site and location in a sales form, QuickBooks will only show the lots or serial numbers available in that location.
- If on the other hand you enter an item, site and either lot or serial number, QuickBooks will only show you the locations that have that lot or serial number.
Default Bin Locations in Sales and Receipts
OK, here is one that isn’t all that obvious. It is a nice feature, I just wish they didn’t implement it quite the way that they did.
Select Inventory Parts in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries. Click Customize Columns and you will see two new columns, Default Purchase Bin and Default Sales Bin. Add them to the display.
Now, if you select a particular inventory site, you can specify a default bin location, for that item at that site.
Now, create a new invoice, select this item, select this inventory site, and the program automatically selects the default bin location per this setting. Smooth!
I didn’t check all of the places that this should happen, but every one that I looked at worked fine. Invoices, estimates, checks, item receipts, bills – they all supported this feature.
My gripe about this (again, not a major problem) is that the Add/Edit Multiple List Items window is the only place you can edit this. You can’t see, or edit this, in the Edit Item window. THAT is the place that I would normally want to see ALL fields that you can edit for an item.
There aren’t a lot of places where you can see reports with information on actual locations. This is an area that needs more work (I will admit that I’m still looking and finding things…).
Inventory Site Listing
This report now includes the locations along with the sites. Not the most attractive listing. Also, it is a bit of a pain to customize this to get ONLY the sites. There should be a simple check box or customize option for this. You can customize the report to add a filter for just sites, but you have to click on each site to include. If you have 200 sites and don’t want the locations, this isn’t practical.
Inventory Site List
A better report than the Inventory Site Listing is found from the Reports dropdown at the bottom of the Inventory Site List. Select Inventory Site Listing. You can’t filter this or edit the format at all, but at least it has a nice indented structure and is more readable.
Items by Bin Location
This is a new report, which shows the quantity you have on hand at each bin.
In the R1 release of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions V13 I’ve found a few bugs in this report. If you like what it shows above, you are OK. If you start to “customize” it, you don’t always get the results that you expect. It is easier to hide location information than it is to add it back to the report or select by location. That should be resolved in an upcoming release.
Note that if you enable Serial Numbers (and probably Lot Numbers, but I haven’t tried that yet) you will see the additional information for each item at each location.
Inventory Stock Status by Site
This report shows information by location, but only if you choose the particular location from the inventory site dropdown. You can’t see all information by location for all locations. Only one location, or a summary by site without any location information. The same is true for the Inventory Valuation Summary by Site and Quantity on Hand by Location reports.
To be honest, I’m not sure what reports I would want. I guess that I’m looking for some more flexibility here. I have to think about what kinds of reports would be helpful
I have mixed feelings about this feature, to tell the truth. For the most part I like it, but I’m concerned with how it will affect users who have a very large item list.
Dealing with multiple levels of sites and locations can be tricky. It is too easy to get carried away and have an overwhelming amount of information. I believe that this is one of the reasons why Intuit first limited the multiple site feature to 200 sites. On the other hand, for some businesses, the 200 site limit was too restrictive. In addition, many distribution and manufacturing businesses have multiple kinds of locations within sites. There are quite a few things that you can do with sites and locations!
This still, however, isn’t a fully developed location/site feature. You don’t, for example, have a way to restrict sales from a particular location (something that is VERY useful). And the management tools are a bit skimpy here. Not a lot of reports or queries to help you manage inventory over multiple sites AND locations.
Having said that, I can see an advantage to Intuit taking this slowly and bringing out details over time. Better to get the basics working before you jump into the big time?
So, what do I think?
- I really like the ability to create locations within sites. It is something that many people have been requesting. The increase of the limit of sites will be welcome in some businesses. Some of the hidden features in the forms (sorted pick list, for example) are neat. This is a step forward for this feature.
- I have reservations, though. From what I can see Intuit has not improved the database handling capability of the program. As Bill Murphy describes in his article on QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Database Problems, Intuit is already pushing the limits of the QuickBooks database as configured. If you have a modest number of sites and locations, this won’t be too bad. If you have a very large number, this might not be the best product to use.
As with other features, my recommendation is to not rush out and jump into the R1 release. Let’s see what kind of fixes come up in the next few months. This is a big change to the system, so caution is advised.