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Examples of ways to use subitems

Your QuickBooks Item list contains all the products (items) you sell to your customers. QuickBooks items help automate your billing and give you a useful way to analyze your business through reports that track product detail. If you want to track your sales in more detail, you can use a combination of QuickBooks items and subitems.

QuickBooks lets you create subitems for any item in your Item list. A subitem lets you track additional detail about an item without requiring you to duplicate entries in your Item list. Subitems can be used to provide more detailed information on invoices and other forms, and to categorize information in reports.

Subitems let you create reports that analyze the profitability of each specific product you sell. When you're ready to enter a sale, just choose the appropriate subitem from the list, and QuickBooks enters the description and rate for you. (You can change any rate once it appears on the sales form.) All you have to do is enter the quantity sold.

You also can create customized fields for your items to track information like unit of measure, size, weight, etc. (if you're not tracking this information as a part of the subitem name).

Using subitems to categorize products in the Items List

You can create Items for major categories of items, and then list the individual items you sell as subitems to make the items list easier to use and manage. For example, if you sell building supplies:

  • Lighting fixtures (non-inventory item; no price)

    • QX471-BLK (subitem of Lighting fixtures)

    • QX471-SLV (subitem of Lighting fixtures)

  • Plumbing fixtures (non-inventory item; no price)

    • RQ999-BLK (subitem of Plumbing fixtures)

    • RQ999-WHT (subitem of Plumbing fixtures)

You can also see a sample of using subitems this way in the QuickBooks sample manufacturing company file.

Using subitems for volume pricing

Some wholesalers set up different price levels for products according to the volume bought by the customer—generally, the higher the volume, the lower the price. If you have volume pricing, you can create a non-inventory item for the product and then create subitems for each price level:

  • T-Shirt (non-inventory item; no price)

    • T-Shirt 1-5 (subitem of T-Shirt; price of 3.50)

    • T-Shirt 6-12 (subitem of T-Shirt; price of 3.25)

    • T-Shirt 13-20 (subitem of T-Shirt; price of 3.00)

For other types of special pricing and discounts (such as preferred customer pricing), you can use price levels.

Using subitems for attributes such as weights and sizes

You might also sell products in various sizes. You may want to create one item for the product and then several subitems for the sizes of the product, such as small, medium, and large.

  • Deluxe Shampoo (item; no price)

    • 8 oz. (subitem of Deluxe Shampoo; price of 2.59)

    • 24 oz (subitem of Deluxe Shampoo; price of 5.69)

Using subitems for preferred vendors

QuickBooks allows only one preferred vendor per item. However, some wholesalers may purchase a product from more than one vendor, depending on which one has the best price at the time. (Or you may offer your customers a similar product from two or three different manufacturers.)

If you want to use subitems to track multiple vendors for an item, create an item for the product and then create subitems for each vendor from whom you buy the product. Make sure you can tell the vendor from the subitem name. For example, if you buy ice cream from two different vendors, you can create the item called "Ice cream" (with no price) and then create subitems for "Acme Creamery" (with the per-unit price) and "XYZ Ice Cream" (with the per-unit price).

Using multiple levels of subitems

In general, it is best to choose one use for subitems and then use them consistently. If necessary, however, you can create subitems for subitems. For example if you track t-shirt sales by size and offer quantity discounts, you could set up subitems:

  • T-Shirt (non-inventory item; no price)

    • T-Shirt Large (subitem of T-shirt; no price)

      • T-Shirt Large 1-5 (subitem of T-Shirt Large; price of 3.50)

      • T-Shirt Large 6-12 (subitem of T-Shirt Large; price of 3.25)

      • T-Shirt Large 13-20 (subitem of T-Shirt Large; price of 3.00)

    • T-Shirt Medium (subitem of T-shirt; no price)

      • T-Shirt Medium 1-5 (subitem of T-Shirt Medium; price of 2.50)

      • T-Shirt Medium 6-12 (subitem of T-Shirt Medium; price of 2.25)

      • T-Shirt Medium 13-20 (subitem of T-Shirt Medium; price of 2.00)

    • T-Shirt Small (subitem of T-shirt; no price)

      • T-Shirt Small 1-5 (subitem of T-Shirt Small; price of 1.50)

      • T-Shirt Small 6-12 (subitem of T-Shirt Small; price of 1.25)

      • T-Shirt Small 13-20 (subitem of T-Shirt Small; price of 1.00)

See also

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