Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Use Inventory Lab to Track Your Purchases and Ditch Excel!

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site: Inventory Lab

I started reselling on Amazon to earn cheap points and maybe profit a little bit as well.  Since then, things have really taken off and reselling has become somewhat of a real business for me.  Since I am seeing increased profits overall and time is now my most valuable commodity, I've started to pay for some programs that make my life easier.  I will introduce these programs to you as I feel comfortable that they are worthwhile.

I do want to let you know beforehand that I will be paid for some of these programs through affiliate marketing and the payment is not insignificant (more than the standard Amazon link).  I take pride in providing quality information and I make sure that I always give the best link to you that I know of.   I don't provide any credit card links that aren't refer a friend links available to everyone since the vast majority of affiliate links for credit cards pay bloggers with decreased promotions for you.  Any affiliate link I provide has the same benefit to you or better.  Please call me out in the comments or in an email ( if you find an example where I am not doing this.

You now have full disclosure and you can feel free to ignore this entire post if this bothers you.

Ok - that's out of the way.  I hate saying that but it's necessary.

Inventory Lab

The first and most important program that I use is called Inventory Lab.  I am a paid subscriber, I've passed the trial period and I've paid the full annual fee for the program.

I used to track purchases via excel spreadsheets.  This isn't so bad when you sell one or two items a day.  When you start to sell 500+ items in one month (I've sold over 900 items in the last 30 days), it becomes very difficult and time consuming to log everything into excel.  I won't do it anymore and it is necessary to have a log of everything once tax season comes.

Inventory Lab allows you to track everything related to inventory being sent to Amazon.  Nothing more and nothing less.

You connect your Inventory Lab account to Amazon Seller Central.  You start the process of sending inventory to Amazon at Inventory Lab.  It will ask you the name of the item, when you bought it, where you bought it and the price you bought it for.

As you can see, it also lists the price of other sellers and usually lets you know who owns the buy box and whether Amazon is currently selling the item, though not in this scenario for some reason.  I don't like to use Inventory Lab to determine price since I usually like to be quite a bit more expensive than the first few sellers, depending on the item and the time of year.

When you click on the calculator button next to "Total Cost", this is what you see:

This is great for stores like Target.  The email from Target tells you the price, you add that in, add your 5% RedCard Discount and your tax and it calculates the total cost for you.

At this point, you are done with this item in order for IL (Inventory Lab) to calculate your profit when you sell.  It will do the rest.  You don't need to add anything else for the calculation.  Obviously, you still need to go through the process to ship the item.

Seeing Your Profit

Once you have sales, Inventory Lab will propagate the data in the "Accounting" button.

Here is what I see for the end of November:

The area that I blocked out is normally has the item that was sold and the order number.  You can see that below with the Frozen Sheets I talked about yesterday:

On the left you can see that some say Estimated and some say Reconciled.  Until your payday from Amazon (every 2 weeks) all sales are estimated in terms of fees.  Don't pay attention to those, they can be way off.  Once it is reconciled, fees are spot on.  They can be as much 10-15% off on electronics until it is reconciled.  You might have an iPad you sold and it estimates that you lost 2% and then you come back 2 weeks later and you see that you actually did in fact gain 10% so don't be worried about it, you just need to wait until payday.

You can see that it shows you how much you paid, how much you sold it for, your profit in terms of dollar amount, your Profit and then the last column is your ROI (Return on Investment).  ROI is my most important figure.

This view doesn't show you your shipping fees or any other Amazon fees.  You need to click on "Reports" and go to Profit and Loss for that.

Here are my numbers from October for reference:

You can see all your sales and all Amazon fees, refunds and reimbursements are automatically added to this chart since IL is connected to your Amazon account.  You can see how much money you made last month for example and make an easy calculation of your overall profit margin.  This is my favorite feature.  You can see it in a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly format.

In addition, you can also add any miscellaneous expenses.  If I go to Home Depot to buy boxes - I know, the shame :( - I'll add that to my expenses and it will take away from my profit for that time period.

Pros and Cons


Time - frees you up from your excel spreadsheet.

Great for calculating taxes

All your data is exportable in a .csv format so that if you decide you don't want to use it anymore, you still have everything.

You can see everything in one place.

There are a lot of Amazon fees you may not realize, this will show you what you are really paying.  I was surprised on certain fees that were significant. More on that in a later post.

Entering old sales - you can have IL grab your old sales and you can enter yours cost of goods to that.

Check out this link to do that.


By far, the major con is the price.  It isn't a cheap program.  It costs a whopping $49 a month or $470 annually (comes out to $39.17 average monthly).  It is saving me tens of hours a month so the hourly rate is super cheap to me.  Everyone should make their own decision about whether it is worth it but they do have a free 30 trial and they don't take credit card information until you decide you want to pay.  Don't think it is worth it?  Don't continue

Estimated sales - pretty annoying that it take 2 weeks to reconcile but I've gotten over it.

It is actually a bit easier to use Seller Central to add products for a shipment, but then you can't add the Cost of Goods Sold.  Also, you still need to add the shipping weight within Seller Central and print shipping labels from Seller Central so IL doesn't get rid of Seller Central.  I also find it easier to print product labels from within Seller Central.

IL does not track gift cards, credit card points or shopping portals unless you calculate that into your cost of goods sold.  Speak to your accountant about whether you should do that.  If you want to keep track of that, you still need spreadsheets.  I've stopped keeping track (I know, the shame).  I need to have good margins on the sale and then everything else, including shopping portals, is gravy.

IL does not support other marketplaces besides Amazon so if you sell a lot on eBay or another marketplace you might need two programs.

You can start your free 30 trial here (my referral link)

Anyone using a cheaper alternative?  Anyone using Inventory Lab already?  Share your thoughts in the comments.