Inventory Management

Free, Customizable Excel Inventory Template

Young man conducts inventory on a laptop with a clipboard.

An excel inventory template is a simple, inexpensive way to keep track of your company’s assets. Whether you’re a small business that stocks medical equipment or a national distributor of marble countertops, using an inventory list template can help you understand what you’ve got, where it is and how much you have on hand. Tracking assets using an excel template can also save your business resources, time and money.

Don’t have Excel? You can also track, manage and control stock using Google Sheets or a smartsheet. Apple’s Numbers also works.

In this article, we’ll offer free inventory templates for Excel, then dive into the best way to take inventory on a spreadsheet. Then, we’ll touch on the benefits and drawbacks of using Excel to manage your business inventory. We’ll also discuss how inventory management software and inventory apps can help even the smallest of businesses stress less and better allocate resources. Finally, we’ll offer tips on upgrading from a spreadsheet inventory to an inventory app, if and when you’re ready.

Download free Excel inventory templates

Our team here at Sortly has put together a top-notch, totally customizable excel inventory template for businesses. If you’re looking to keep track of home inventory, this template will also do the trick.

This Microsoft excel template is simple and will help you improve inventory tracking. Plus, you can use this template to load into Sortly whenever you’d like. We’ve also included more advanced bulk import templates, in case you’d like to try those.

Here are the different inventory templates, which you can click to download.

While our downloadable template has suggested categories in every column, feel free to change the template up to better suit your business needs. After all, a beverage business and IT professionals both need to use an inventory management template to keep track of assets, but they’ll use those templates very differently.

What is an Excel inventory template?

An Excel inventory template, like most other inventory spreadsheets, tracks the details of everything your company stocks and stores. Like pen-and-paper inventories and inventory management software, these templates help businesses track assets, control quantity on hand (and carrying costs), and keep good records for forecasting, tax, and insurance purposes.

Usually, there are static columns for information like item name, SKU, product description, product cost, unit price, value, purchase price, vendor information and minimum quantity. There are also columns that may be updated frequently; for example, condition, quantity on hand, and current location.

A home inventory template might not be as detailed, but can be used to track collectibles, manage a move, or consolidate data about high value home assets.

How to use an inventory spreadsheet

Like all inventory sheets, an Excel inventory templates should be used to count, track and audit everything your company stocks. Here ‘s how to use one:

1. Customize your inventory spreadsheet

While even the best inventory spreadsheets come with optimized, suggested columns, you’ll likely want to make changes to your spreadsheet so it’s perfect for your business. Try creating a few extra, blank columns for random notes, too. Remember, you can always go back and add new columns, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments to the template as you learn more about what works for you and your colleagues.

2. Print it out for faster, hands-on auditing

While our Sortly team recommends getting organized with our inventory app from the get-go, we understand that a lot of people are more comfortable with a spreadsheet. If you choose to use one of our inventory templates, we recommend printing out the template, sticking it on a clipboard, and physically counting your inventory. You can record key item details, including quantity, right onto the printed sheet.

3. As you audit, consider how to better organize organize

As you take stock of what you’ve got, move thoughtfully through your storage areas. Remember, you may find inconsistencies and inefficiencies as you work. Tracking inventory isn’t something anyone can master in a day. Take note of these issues and think about how you can improve the way you stock, organize and store your assets.

4. Transfer data onto your smartsheet

Once you’re done counting inventory on your printed list, head back to the computer and transfer your data to the spreadsheet. This is also when you can calculate simple formulas like inventory value.

5. Maintain inventory history over time

To maintain inventory history, try creating a new tab for every count or audit you complete. If this process seems too labor intensive, remember that an inventory app like Sortly can effortlessly track these changes for you.

While this may seem like an unnecessary step, it’s pretty much the only way to create a real inventory history. After all, if you want to practice inventory control, you’ll need to know how your inventory was used in the past.  Plus, who wants to audit a stockroom while dragging around a laptop anyway!?

Pro tip: be very careful when transferring item details onto the template. This step is incredibly prone to human error, as your eyes can jumble numbers and cells easily. To avoid transferring altogether, try using a free app like Sortly to track information about your products using your phone or tablet.

When to take inventory

A woman takes inventory on her laptop in a retail shop.

A business that uses inventory spreadsheets may take inventory daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. These companies take physical inventory, also known as periodic inventory. That means they audit what they have on hand at regularly-scheduled intervals.

Some businesses practice perpetual inventory instead. That means they update their inventory every time an item is sold, restocked, trashed or moved. They rarely (or never) take physical inventory. It’s virtually impossible to practice perpetual inventory using an inventory control template.

If perpetual inventory sounds like a better fit for your business, consider trying inventory software. Sortly, for example, uses an in-app barcode/QR code scanner so you can effortlessly, efficiently track inventory.

Related: What Is the Difference Between Perpetual Inventory and Physical Inventory?

Suggestions for inventory sheet columns

An inventory sheet is a dynamic list. You should create a place to track every little piece of data that matters to you and your team. From serial number and product name to color and category, feel free to add columns to your spreadsheet for whatever you wish.

In the Sortly app, columns become item details, also known as fields. There are tons of suggested fields for common categories like model number, size, product link and expiry date. You can also create custom fields to track whatever you wish, in a way that makes sense to you.

One thing you may wish to track on your excel inventory template, but really struggle to add: pictures and attachments. It’s next-to-impossible to include vital images of your hard-to-reach products on a spreadsheet or smartsheet. Essential receipts and warranties? Forget about it. You’ll have to keep such paperwork in a safe place until you’re ready to upgrade to an app.

Benefits of an Excel inventory template

There are a few main benefits of using a spreadsheet to track your stock:

Pro: Ease of Use

The first benefit: ease-of-use. If your employees have some knowledge of computers, they likely know how to complete basic tasks on Microsoft Excel. While creating smartsheets with complex formulas may not be in the cards for your newest hire, most employees (even those with no prior knowledge of how to use Excel) will be able to maintain an inventory management template.

Pro: Affordability

Another benefit: affordability. If your computer already has Excel installed, maintaining an asset tracking template smartsheet should come at no additional cost to your business. If you don’t have Excel, you could use Apple’s Numbers, or Google’s Sheets. (Remember, though, that apps like Sortly do offer a forever-free product.)

Pro: Easy to Print, Hands-On

A third benefit: simple printing for hands-on counts and audits. A properly formatted inventory control template can be quickly printed out for pen-to-paper inventory counts and audits.

Drawbacks of an Excel inventory template

Unfortunately, there are more cons to using Excel for inventory management as there are pros.

Con: Error-Prone

One drawback: spreadsheets are notoriously prone to human error. Anytime a person must record data on a jam-packed sheet with tons of lookalike cells, there’s a chance key information could be jumbled or mixed up. A business taking beverage inventory, for example, may stock dozens of products that sound alike and have many identical details, like supplier, purchase price and location.

Both pictures and barcodes/QR codes help prevent human error, but these details are difficult to track on a spreadsheet.

Con: Hard to Update

Another con: it’s very hard to keep Excel spreadsheets updated. If your whole team isn’t collaborating on a cloud-based, auto-syncing inventory sheet, an employee could very easily update or refer to an outdated list. Even if you do use a collaborative, automatically-synced sheet, reviewing old versions and collecting information about your inventory history can be next-to-impossible.

Con: Prone to Data Loss

A third negative: inventory spreadsheets are prone to data loss. Whether your file is corrupted or your computer is damaged, it’s way too easy to lose all your information. A spilled cup of coffee is all it takes to wipe out your inventory history forever.

Con: Can’t Handle Pictures, Attachments, Barcodes or QR Codes

Finally, a fourth con: it’s way too hard to add pictures, attachments, QR codes and barcodes to an Excel template for inventory. While high-resolution images can offer clarity about your inventory, you can spend hours trying to neatly place images into a spreadsheet. And attachments like purchase orders, lease agreements or receipts? There’s no way they’ll fit.

Benefits of inventory management software

While inventory spreadsheets are simple and affordable, they are time-consuming, tedious and prone to human error. Modern inventory management software can actually shave hours off your inventory management processes, freeing up valuable time and money for you to get back to what really matters: your business.

An inventory tool like Sortly offers key time-saving features like QR code/barcode scanning, customized alerts and instant reports. You can use these features to save time, reduce costly over-ordering and practice air-tight inventory control.

You’ll also easily connect photos, attachments, barcodes and QR codes to any and every item in your inventory. By scanning a barcode to update inventory quantities, you eliminate the risk of human error. And you’ve got a photo of the item right there to quickly check your work, too.

If price is what’s stopping you from upgrading to inventory management software, don’t dismay. There are tons of inexpensive (or even free!) inventory apps available. Sortly offers a free two-week trial of its premium, paid plans that tons of small business owners swear by. There’s also a forever-free program perfect that provides great features.

Plus, there’s no money to spend on software and hardware. You can use existing phones, tablets and computers to get access to Sortly anywhere, anytime.

How do I import my inventory spreadsheet into Sortly?

You can bulk import your spreadsheet into Sortly using any of the tabs provided in our download. You can also create a simple inventory list on Excel, with at least item name and quantity on hand listed.

To get started, login to your Sortly app and then follow these instructions. If you have any trouble at all, get in touch with Sortly’s customer support team for help with your bulk import. You can reach them at support@sortly.com.

Don’t have a Sortly account? You can create one free at any time.

About Sortly

Sortly inventory app is shown on a variety of devices.

Sortly is a top-rated inventory app that’s as simple as an Excel inventory template–but designed to save tons of time, money and stress. Ready to get your stockrooms (and spending) under control? Try Sortly free for two weeks!

Further reading

What is the best way to take inventory?

What is an inventory list?

How do you keep track of inventory in Excel?