Intuit - QuickBooks Point-of-Sale
QuickBooks Point of Sale
Over the past several weeks we have been looking at Inventory Management alternatives to traditional QuickBooks. Among these alternatives were products that ‘added on’ to QuickBooks to provide enhanced inventory capabilities such as barcoding. We also explored a variety of ‘add-in’ applications that maximize inventory functionality while at the same time preserving the ‘item’ and ‘cost’ relationship between those applications and QuickBooks; those same applications permit users to make use of standard QuickBooks functionality and forms for most processing. I am a big fan of some of those types of applications.
Today we want to start our review of what I call the “In Lieu Of” Applications. These applications ‘take ownership’ of your Inventory and typically require you to perform most, if not all, inventory related transactions inside of their application rather than inside QuickBooks. The method by which these products ‘integrate’ within QuickBooks varies with each product, and in some cases within the products themselves. Some post only financial data back to QuickBooks, usually in the form of Journal Entries while other applications post data only at the ‘end of business’ as part of their day-end close-out. Other applications within this group allow you to either configure a ‘sync’ schedule, or perform a ‘manual sync’ between the two applications; sometimes the sync is one-way, and for other forms of information the sync maybe two-ways.
Yes that is what I said; QuickBooks Point-of-sale is the first of these ‘in lieu of’ applications we want to look at. While many people will take exception with me that QBPOS is an ‘inventory system’ since they want to believe it to be a Point-of-sale system, Intuit in fact for years promoted QBPOS as an ‘inventory solution’ that worked with QuickBooks if in fact QuickBooks was too limited to meet users’ inventory requirements.
While it is true that QBPOS is focused on the point-of-sale transaction mode, it offers excellent inventory management features and capabilities that far exceed QuickBooks Pro/Premier, and in many ways rival the feature set associated with QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory and Advanced Pricing. For example, QuickBooks Point-of-sale provides an option for ‘landed cost’ in which associated freight for product acquisition can be incorporated directly into the item cost. You won’t find that in standard QuickBooks or even the Enterprise Advanced feature set.
QuickBooks Multi-store functionality provides just as effective a method of ‘inventory by location’ tracking as QuickBooks Enterprise; although I must say that the process of transferring inventory from one store to another is more cumbersome in QBPOS than in QBES-AI. Of course QBPOS has been offering Barcode capabilities since day one, and it also offers ‘alternative look-up’. The ‘style grid’ associated with QBPOS can be used for far more than ‘size and color’ and in fact provides a better interface for most E-commerce integrations than any version of QuickBooks.
Unfortunately QBPOS is one of the products that take ownership of your inventory items. If you were using QuickBooks prior to adopting QBPOS, your prior item list is ‘consumed’ by QBPOS during the initial transfer of data. From that point on, QBPOS is in charge of your items; in fact it will set all prior items in your item list to ‘inactive’ even if it will use those items when passing data to QuickBooks. One of the configuration settings you establish in QBPOS is how data should be sent to QuickBooks. While you can elect to send ‘details’ of your transactions to QuickBooks during Financial Exchange, in which case ‘item data’ is transmitted, this is probably the least common configuration especially if you migrated to QBPOS in order to reduce the growth of your QuickBooks file. Many QBPOS users elect to have transactions summarized, in which case the financial data sent to QuickBooks essentially amounts to journal entries ‘account’ (rather than item) based data. All item based reports in QuickBooks then become meaningless; however, QBPOS can provide a significant number of reports based upon your inventory items. As an alternative, users can choose to have item detail data sent to QuickBooks when an Accounts Receivable transaction is being posted to a specific customer; for all paid transactions summary data is transmitted. I personally like this approach because it affords users of QuickBooks with the information necessary to answer a question regarding a specific ‘invoice’ without having to gain access to Point of Sale.
When it comes time to acquire product, QBPOS offers the same basic purchase order and receiving functionality you might expect from an inventory management product. You can easily receive via barcodes, and choose to receive either with or without billing information. Based upon your configured settings QBPOS will transmit either an ‘unbilled purchases’ transaction or ‘accounts payable’ transaction to QuickBooks with the appropriate accounting as an off-set to the change in inventory value. The unbilled purchases option is essentially the forerunner of the Enhanced Receiving option that became available in QuickBooks Enterprise over the last few years. This once again shows that the technology has been available to Intuit for many years, but only in recent times have they offered that type of functionality to their QuickBooks customers.
What is cumbersome in QBPOS is order fulfillment, if you are not ‘selling at the point of sale. In other words, if you are not ringing up a sale as a sale receipt and taking payment at the time of the sale, QBPOS is clunky. While you can transact business in the form of Sales Orders and then go about fulfilling those orders, the process was really designed around the need to make sales in which the inventory was either being custom ordered or had not yet been received. In this way the problems associated with ‘sales going negative’ could be precluded. One reason for the ‘clunkyness’ of the process is the incomplete revisions to the QBPOS interface.
A few years ago Intuit undertook to streamline and modernize the QBPOS interface, the majority of their efforts were geared toward providing a visual front end for the most common POS transactions such as “Making a Sale (using sales receipts” as well as Customer and Vendor data capture. Items were also overhauled to some extent, but as with many other features of QBPOS if you pick the right set of keystrokes you find yourself back in the older clunky interface. This is one of the most ‘scary’ things my QBPOS clients have experienced, one minute they think they are in a new product and the next minute they think they have done something wrong and somehow damaged the product; they have a hard time believing that the product would be a combination of old and new interface designs.
I for one would not recommend QBPOS as an Inventory Management Solution to anyone who is not also in need of a “Point of Sale’ system, but as I said Intuit has promoted this product in the past as an Inventory solution and some advisors and retail partners apparently continue to do so.
Other “In lieu of” products we will look at:
• One of the most popular ‘in lieu of’ inventory applications is Fishbowl. In Fishbowl essentially all inventory-related transactions, from sales and customer payments, to purchases and vendor bills are performed in Fishbowl. Depending on the version of Fishbowl you select, the number of additional functions Fishbowl offers to supplement QuickBooks ranges from 15 to 25 not including variances on those functions/features).
• ACCTivate Inventory by Alterity is another ‘in lieu of’ inventory application which takes complete control over the inventory items in lieu of QuickBooks built-in-inventory. ACCTivate professes to offer more features and options than any other solution. You can be your own judge of their capabilities once you have reviewed my article in an upcoming edition of Intuitive Accountant.
We will also be looking at more specialized manufacturing products that offer Inventory Management in future weeks. Check back soon for our next article in this series.