19 July, 2022

4 Inventory accounting methods for inventory valuation

What do manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers have in common? They all deal with inventory. Whether you’re a manufacturer or a reseller, you need to account for your inventory accurately. With proper inventory accounting, you can better understand your expenses and identify ways to cut costs and maximize your profits.

 

What is inventory accounting?

Inventory accounting determines how an organization shows inventory in its balance sheet and profit and loss statements. Your inventory is treated as an asset because it can be used to generate revenue. The valuation of your inventory assets depends on how you assign costs to your inventory. It’s extremely important to correctly value your inventory because its value affects your business’s overall profitability.

 

Understanding cost of goods sold (COGS)

The cost of goods sold is the cost that a business incurs to make or acquire the products that it sells. COGS includes everything from materials used to labor cost. However, it only includes costs that are directly related to the production process. Thus, shipping and marketing costs aren’t included in COGS. Knowing your COGS helps you understand how much you are spending to produce your product, and it directly impacts your profitability.

The formula you use for COGS depends on whether you are a manufacturer or reseller. For a reseller, the formula is

Beginning inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory = Cost of Goods Sold

For example, at the beginning of the financial year, your inventory is valued at $4,000. Throughout the year, you purchase inventory valued at $3,500, and at the end of the year, your inventory value is $2000.

The cost of goods sold is $4,000 + $3,500 – $2,000 = $5,500.

COGS can be calculated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The value of COGS is partially determined by how you determine your ending inventory.

 

Understanding ending inventory valuation

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell all your inventory by the end of the accounting period. However, unsold inventory isn’t a liability because it can be sold next year. Therefore, remaining inventory, or “ending inventory” is treated as an asset in your financial statements. In fact, ending inventory becomes “beginning inventory” for the next accounting period.

There are four commonly used inventory valuation methods:

  1. First in, first out (FIFO),
  2. Last in, first out (LIFO),
  3. Weighted average cost method, and
  4. Specific identification method.

Method #1: First in, first out (FIFO)

The premise of the FIFO method is you value your inventory as if the stock you acquired first were sold first. For example, imagine you purchase 100 bottles of product in January for $10 per bottle. Then in February, you purchase 200 bottles of product for $20 per bottle. You would have 300 bottles of product in your inventory, and the value would be $1,000 + $4,000 = $5,000.

Then imagine you sold 50 bottles of product in March. What would the value of your inventory be? Using FIFO, you would say that the 50 bottles you sold were part of the 100 bottles you purchased in January. Thus, you would value the inventory sold at $500, meaning the value of your ending inventory would be $4,500.

Method #2: Last in, first out (LIFO)

In contrast to the FIFO method, the LIFO method means you assume the most recently acquired products are sold first.

Using the same example of the bottles, let’s say that in March, you still sold 50 bottles. However, with LIFO, you assume that those 50 bottles were part of the 200 bottles you purchased in February for $20 each. Thus, the 50 bottles you sold would be valued at $1,000, and your ending inventory would be $4,000.

Method #3: Weighted average cost

The weighted average cost method is best to use when your product units are indistinguishable from each other or challenging to track individually – for example, gasoline. Using the weighted average cost method, businesses assign a value to inventory based on the average cost of production of the product.

Here’s the way to calculate it:

Weighted Average Cost = Total Cost of Inventory / Total Inventory Units.

For example, you purchase 10 bottles at $20 each, and an additional 10 bottles at $30 each.

  • Ten bottles at $20 each = $200.
  • Ten bottles at $30 each = $300.
  • Total bottle units = 20 bottles (10 + 10).
  • Total cost of bottles = $500 ($200 + $300).

The weighted average cost is $500 / 20 = $25. When you sell 10 bottles you will value the sale at $250 ($10 x $25). Your ending inventory of 10 bottles will also be valued  at $250 (10 bottles x $25).

Method #4: Specific identification

The specific identification method is primarily used for large items that can be easily identified because they are unique. In this method, each unit and its cost is tracked individually. Each item is assigned a specific identifier, such as can be done using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The advantage of this system is that you have a highly accurate accounting of your inventory. The disadvantage is that the method has limited uses because few businesses sell highly unique products that can be easily tracked.

Inventory accounting is crucial for businesses

Inventory accounting is vital for both manufacturers and retailers. Businesses should carefully consider their inventory valuation method and identify the best option up front, as it can be challenging to change in the future.

Inventory management software makes a huge difference and helps track and value your inventory. With real-time insights about inventory movement, orders received, and revenue generated, your business will be able to make smarter, more data-driven decisions. You’ll also be able to generate inventory performance reports and analyze your business in real time.

If you’re looking for software to track and manage your inventory, book a call with Cin7 today. We’ll assess your inventory needs and partner with you to find a perfect solution.

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