Inventory Management

What Is the Difference Between Inventory and Stock?

January 11, 2024 • 3 min read

Is there a difference between inventory and stock—or are the words interchangeable? There is a difference. Learning what the terms mean will help you accurately account for the items your business owns and uses. And capturing the details in your inventory system can help you streamline business processes and get an edge on the competition.

Stock vs. Inventory: What's the Difference?

The difference between inventory and stock is a subtle but important one. Stock items are the goods you sell to customers. Inventory includes the products you sell, as well as the materials and equipment needed to make them. Although the definition of stock is concise, there are four main types of inventory: raw materials, work in progress, MRO supplies, and finished goods.


Stock includes finished products, parts, materials—whatever you sell to customers. The more stock—or products—you sell, the more revenue your business generates.


Inventory includes finished products and all the assets a business owns or uses to complete production. There are four main types of inventory.

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1. Raw materials 

Raw materials are parts or components used to make a final product. For example, if your company manufactures HVAC parts, the raw materials used to make fan motors, compressors, or thermostats might include:

  • Metal
  • Plastic 
  • Fiber or other materials 

2. Work in Progress (WIP)

Work-in-progress, or work-in-process, inventory is still in production. Some examples are incomplete goods that require time to dry, seal, bond, or ferment before they are ready to be packaged and sold. And WIP includes raw materials, labor, overhead, and other essentials needed to complete production. 

3. Maintenance, Repair, and Operating Supplies (MRO)

Items that support production but are not part of the finished product are MRO supplies. For example, if you’re tracking medical inventory for a company that manufactures continuous glucose monitors, production might be supported with these MRO supplies:

  • Adhesives
  • Calibrators
  • Computers
  • Gloves
  • Packing materials
  • Safety glasses

4. Finished Goods

Finished goods are completed products that are packaged and ready to be sold.

Sortly for Tracking Stock and Inventory

As demand for stock grows, or as stock levels decrease, raw materials and MRO supplies must be available for production. How can you manage and track your stock and four types of inventory? 

Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory—from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR coding, low stock alerts, customizable folders, data-rich inventory reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re  on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 10,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.