Inventory Management

How do I make an inventory spreadsheet in Excel? 

A man in a work attire looks at his computer.

An inventory spreadsheet is a free, simple way to track your inventory on a computer. Creating an inventory spreadsheet in Excel is easy, and even the most beginner of Excel users can quickly make one. In this article, we’ll explain exactly how to make an inventory spreadsheet. We’ll also offer some quick tips and tricks to managing your inventory spreadsheet, and discuss the pros and cons of using an inventory spreadsheet to manage inventory.

How do I make an inventory spreadsheet in Excel? 

To make an inventory spreadsheet in Excel, open a new spreadsheet and write every little thing you want to track in a different column of the top row. Most inventory managers use the first column to track item name, then add columns for information like UPC/serial number, location, description, quantity, par, vendor, item value and more. 

Next, if you’d like, you can rename this tab (likely named Sheet1 by default) something like “Inventory Master List.” You can then make copies of the tabs in the same spreadsheet. You can use these copies to record inventory data each time you take inventory. Remember to rename the tab to the date you counted inventory. Over time, you’ll gather meaningful information about how your business uses inventory. 

Where can I find an inventory spreadsheet template?

If you don’t want to make your own inventory spreadsheet, you can easily find free, downloadable templates online. (You can download Sortly’s free inventory spreadsheet template here.) Using a premade inventory template might save you a little time, but you’ll have to make edits to the template so it works for your business. 

How do I count inventory using an inventory spreadsheet?

To count inventory using an inventory spreadsheet, start by printing out the spreadsheet and affixing it to a clipboard. This will allow you to physically count inventory while recording your findings. 

Once you’re ready to audit your inventory, move systematically through each storage closet, stockroom or warehouse aisle and row. If it’s been a long time since you audited your inventory, this process could be quite time-consuming, especially if you have to fill out every little detail about your inventory. Depending on your business, you may have to close shop or work after-hours to get a true count done. 

But don’t worry, the first audit is always the hardest. Once you have all your information in place, you’ll usually update only quantity during a typical inventory count. 

As you audit your stock, you should also think critically about how your inventory could be better managed. You don’t have to rearrange everything right away, but be sure to scribble down any ideas as you count stock. Once everything is accounted for, you can move things around to create a storage system that makes more sense.

What are the pros and cons of using an inventory spreadsheet?

The benefits of using an inventory spreadsheet include its affordability and ease-of-use. Drawbacks include that inventory spreadsheets are error-prone, hard to update, prone to data loss and cannot handle pictures, barcodes or other attachments. 

Benefits of an inventory spreadsheet

Affordable. An inventory spreadsheet is essentially free, if you have access to Microsoft Excel. Even if you don’t, you can use an open-source spreadsheet like Google Sheets. 

Easy to use. If your employees are even just a little familiar with computers, they’ll be able to track inventory using a very simple spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can also be printed out easily, so anybody can count inventory and write down their findings.

Drawbacks of an inventory spreadsheet

Error-prone. It’s super easy to jumble names and numbers when recording data on a spreadsheet. Plus, many items look and sound the same, so it’s easy to get confused. Inventory apps with QR code/barcode scanning virtually eliminate human error. 

Not cloud-based. If you are using a spreadsheet that’s not synced to the internet, it’s virtually impossible to ensure that all collaborators are updating the same file. And you don’t want to make ordering decisions based on an outdated list, do you?

Another related risk: data loss. If your spreadsheet is synced, a lost or stolen computer could mean your inventory information is gone forever.

No pictures, barcodes, QR codes or attachments. These are the features that really speed up inventory management… and an inventory spreadsheet offers none of them. 

Try inventory management software

Inventory is used on smartphones, a desktop computer and a tablet.

If you’re tired of spending all day tracking inventory on a spreadsheet, then you’re ready to try inventory management software. No longer clunky and unaffordable, inventory apps like Sortly are intuitive, affordable and work on existing computers, phones and tablets. 

An inventory app like Sortly can shave hours off your weekly inventory responsibilities, freeing up time to take care of everything else on your todo list. With Sortly, you can:

  • See everything you’ve got, all in one place
  • Connect QR codes and barcodes for ultra-quick scanning, searching and inventory auditing
  • Add high-resolution pictures so you fully comprehend what’s in every last box
  • Set up alerts so you’ll know the instant you’re running low on something 
  • Customize folders and tags to create an organization system that makes sense for your business

Want to try it out? You can sign up for a free, two-week trial here.

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