What Is an Inventory Part?

An Inventory Part is one type of Item and is maintained on the Lists->Item List menu selection.

See our article on all of the Item types supported by QuickBooks for more information.

Generally speaking, Items are designed to pre-fill invoicing and purchasing forms. An Inventory Part represents an item that your firm keeps on hand for sale to customers. It can be stocked and sold on its own or included as part of an inventory assembly.

Here’s a screenshot of the QuickBooks Item List showing a range of inventory parts:

QuickBooks tracks certain information that apply only to Inventory Parts. Fields tracked only for Inventory Parts include:

  • Quantity On Hand
  • Quantity On Purchase Order
  • Quantity On Sales Order
  • Reorder Point
  • Asset Account

Some fields are tracked both for Inventory Parts and other item types, such as Inventory Assemblies and Non-Inventory Parts. Some – but not all – of these fields also may be tracked for other item types if you select the checkbox This item is used in assemblies or is a reimbursable charge. These fields are:

  • Quantity On Pending Builds
  • COGS Account
  • Preferred Vendor

The above screenshot shows a mix of inventory parts and sub-items of inventory parts. This structure is often described as a “parent child relationship”, where a sub-item is a child of its parent. While both parent and child items are labeled as Inventory Parts, QuickBooks only tracks quantity information for sub-items (i. e., child items) when this structure is used. It does not aggregate information for parent items where sub-items exist for that parent item.

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  1. Bill Sprague says:

    Our business buys and resells unique items, no two are alike. We are using Quick Books Premier 2013, for wholesalers. I am reasonably knowledgeable about Quick books, and the underlying accounting. What is the best way to keep track of individual items, and sales of those items? My hope is to be able to track profitability not just in total, but also to be able to analyze what kinds of things that we buy and resell are most profitable, etc.

    Thanks for your help,

    Bill Sprague

    • Chief Mechanic says:

      Let’s say you are an antique store and sell tables. You could have a table that is small and cost $100 or a valuable treasure that cost $10,000. If you never have both in stock at the same time, you could use a single item number, because your cost would accurately reflect the cost of the current piece that’s in your inventory. Unfortunately, you may not be able to guarantee that you will never have both in stock at the same time.

      Since you stock unique items, there is no way to know the cost of an item in your inventory without creating an QB item for it. If you get 2 of the same unique item, QB will use an average cost. And if the items are only similar in general (as in they are both tables), the average cost can be misleading. For example, using the example of the 2 tables above with wildly different costs, with both in stock your average cost will be $5050 if you use the same item number. That average cost might cause you to decline to sell the cheaper table for $400, which would be a profitable sale. Therefore, unless the items are the same, you’ll have to use a unique QB item for each product you keep in inventory. If you sell your only expensive table in June (so you have no inventory), you can reuse the QB item for expensive tables if you add to your inventory in July. But if in July you add a 2nd expensive table before selling the existing inventory, you’ll have to create a unique QB item for it.

      Beyond that, to address profitability by item type, you can either group similar items (such as all tables) as children of a parent item. Alternatively, you can use GL accounts to break out your item groups. We prefer the former approach, because that keeps your GL clean and uncluttered. You’d examine profitability of item groups by using filters on a report.

      To use the method we recommend, you’d create a parent item, such as “Table”. You would never record any transactions for the parent item. As children to that parent, you’d create sub-items, such as “Table-A” or “Table-B” and you’d enter transactions for these sub-items. To examine the profitability of all tables, you’d produce a report and set a filter for the parent item, which would include all of its children.

      Hope that helps.

  2. I’m trying to add a bunch of items as sub items, but when I’m in “add/edit multiple list entries”
    It won’t let me change the sub item from that “spreadsheet” if there is a qty on hand.
    So all the item that don’t have a qty on hand work just fine, but all the ones that do have a qty on hand I am having to go into each item individually and manually check “sub item of” and fill in the box.

    Is there a faster way to allow it to let me make these changes?

    • Chief Mechanic says:

      The only suggestion that comes to mind is to organize the data in Excel based on quantities on hand. First, do all the items/sub-items that have no quantity on hand; then do the rest. That at least allows you to complete the first group quickly, rather than having to poke at it on infrequent lines.

      • Justin Johnson says:

        I figured it out by calling intuit. It took them a while, but they found out it only works in single user mode. They switched me over and it worked fine. Hope this helps others that may have a similar problem


    • Unfortunately not. Once you create an item in QB, you can’t edit the item type. You also won’t be able to delete the incorrect item if it is included on a single transaction. Therefore, you’ll need to rename the incorrect item name/number (perhaps by adding “DONOTUSE” to the end), and create a new item of the correct type. While this may seem like a big problem, service items would not have been tracking inventory on hand quantities, so even if QB did allow you to change the item type, it would not solve your problem since you would not have tracked inventory levels. Once you enter the correct item number, you’ll need to edit every transaction that had the wrong item number and supply the correct one – that’s invoices, credit memos, and vendor receipts.

    • please can u help me to suggest what name should i choose for items i want to sell in quickbooks 2011
      i only could see non inventory items

      • Chief Mechanic says:

        The biggest rule is that each item must have a unique Item Name/Number that is 31 or fewer characters. Beyond that, as far as name goes, you’re free to use a format that works for your business. Here are a few tips:

        Make the name/number as unique as possible. That will help you distinguish one item from the next during data entry and reduce the chance of errors.
        QB will group items by type, and then sort them alphabetically. Therefore, think about how you want items to appear in that alphabetical list. For example, if you sell a red widget and a blue widget and you want them to appear close in the list, use names similar to WIDGET-RED and WIDGET-BLUE. If you used RED WIDGET and BLUE WIDGET, items would not be close together in your item list.
        Avoid long and complicated number systems unless that item is printed on the item itself and used throughout your business. Item names that involve many numbers can easily lead to data entry errors.
        Don’t make your naming system too complicated. It’s a tool to quickly locate and accurately enter your items in transactions and nothing more. If you make your item name more complicated than it needs to be, you’re only making your accounting work harder.

        Hope that helps.