QuickBooks serial number and lot tracking limitations

Serial number and lot tracking is essential for manufacturers. Learn about the limitations and solutions for using QuickBooks Online lot tracking.

Manufacturers get set up with QuickBooks to solve two of their problems: tracking finances and inventory. Unfortunately, those who track perishable inventory will find QuickBooks Online lot tracking lacking features. That’s why we’ve looked into the limitations and solutions so you can start manufacturing with QuickBooks.
Last updated: 24.05.2023 7 mins read

Manufacturers get set up with QuickBooks to solve two of their problems:

  • Tracking finances
  • Inventory

Unfortunately, those who track perishable inventory may find limitations with QuickBooks lot and serial number tracking features.

That’s why we’ve looked into the limitations and solutions so you can use QuickBooks, without losing the ability to track inventory effectively.

In this article, we’re going to look into the limitations of using lot and serial tracking in QuickBooks, and how to upgrade your lot tracking capabilities with a Katana manufacturing software.

What is a serial number and lot number?

A serial number is a unique identification number that is assigned to a manufactured product by a manufacturer. Products will also have an identifier — usually referred to as a SKU (stock keeping unit). A serial number is often used to track warranty and service issues after the sale of a product.

In comparison, a lot tracking number is a number that is assigned to a group of products which have specific common properties. Lot tracking, also referred to as batch tracking, is the process of tracking materials and products, from start to the end of your supply chain, that will help you:

  • Track expiration dates of products
  • Trace any defective items back to the batch it belonged to
  • Enable product recalls

If you handle perishable inventory, a lot tracking system is an essential tool for avoiding faulty products reaching the market.

But, the big question on modern manufacturer’s lips, is there a QuickBooks serial number or lot number tracking feature?

Pro tip: If you’re a manufacturer looking to integrate your Shopify into your workflow, we’ve got you covered. Learn how to optimize production with:

Can you track serial numbers in QuickBooks?

QuickBooks inventory tracking integration like Katana will give you the tools to implement batch tracking in your business.

You can manually enter QuickBooks serial number tracking (or SKUs) after you’ve enabled inventory tracking by heading over to:

  1. Head over to Get paid & pay and select Product & services
    Screenshot of the main menu in QBO
  2. Here you can find all your inventory and services and add SKUs to them by selecting Edit under the Action column
    Screenshot of QuickBooks Online products and services
  3. This will open a tab where you can add an SKU to your items and services
    Screenshot of QuickBooks Online products and services information view

Note: if you haven’t yet added your inventory and services, you can do so by selecting New in the top corner and adding information such as:

  • Name
  • SKU
  • Category
  • Unit of measurements

But, are inventory serial numbers available in QuickBooks online for automatic generation? Unfortunately no.

When you’re entering a serial number, a good rule of thumb is to use the batch number and creation date or take advantage of an SKU generator.

Setting up your serial numbers on items is going to help with lot tracking report in QuickBooks, so you can better understand:

  • What are your best sellers
  • What’s in stock
  • What’s still on order

However, you can only add serial numbers manually and will (for the most part) only be used as references on invoices.

Can you track lot numbers in QuickBooks?

QuickBooks lot tracking isn’t possible without integrating a batch inventory management system.

QuickBooks inventory management is built to support drop shippers, but not manufacturers with complex inventory types.

If you’re a manufacturer who carries a small amount of inventory with products that don’t require in-depth tracking, using QuickBooks Online is okay.

However, for manufacturers in certain industries, you’ll need a system that can help you track different inventory types and help you locate the location of batches.

It’s possible to use spreadsheets alongside your QuickBooks for lot tracking, however inefficient spreadsheets are:

  • Time-consuming
  • Prone to human errors
  • Difficult to maintain

Automating your lot tracking in QuickBooks will allow you to monitor your inventory movements, implement barcode scanning, and free up resources that you can use to help you scale your business.

The limitations of using QuickBooks Online for inventory management

QuickBooks is a fantastic tool for manufacturers looking for a system to help them manage their finances. However, if you need inventory tracking, including expiration date tracking to work with QuickBooks, you’ll find it doesn’t have all the features needed.

Without 3rd party integrations, here are the limitations you can expect to find with QuickBooks lot tracking:

Inventory tracking in QuickBooks

QuickBooks Online lot tracking doesn’t have the tools for multi-location inventory tracking or for tracking the manufacturing costs of your different inventory types.

Inventory within QuickBooks is broken down into three types:

  • Inventory
  • Non-inventory
  • Bundles

The features for QuickBooks Online inventory management is fine for drop shippers.

But, unfortunately, manufacturers need a system that can help them with raw material inventory management and track the conversion of those raw materials into finished goods.

It might be okay at first, but once your business starts to grow and your order volume increase, you’ll need to find a tool for automating your manufacturing that can help you centralize and integrate your:

  • Accounting
  • Order entry
  • Processing tools
  • Contact management

Inability to track unshipped orders

The lack of advanced inventory management features needed for QuickBooks lot tracking as a manufacturer has already been mentioned, but the feature gaps also extend to sale order management.

That means without an alternative method of tracking or using a spreadsheet alongside your QuickBooks Online, you’re going to struggle to understand if products have been shipped to customers or if they’re still within your warehouse.

Using a 3rd party integration for lot tracking in QuickBooks is going to help you easily locate your products. Other companies have tried to use QuickBooks online for tracking their open orders, but the system isn’t a robust solution for managing your supply chain.

Pro tip: QuickBooks Online lot tracking needs the support of a 3rd party integrations to give it the tools to perform advanced inventory and order management. Optimize your QuickBooks order management here.

No multiple warehousing option

QuickBooks Online lot tracking only supports one warehouse location and is unable to track inventory across different sites.

There is a workaround to this, you can monitor inventory at different locations by “splitting” items and assigning them to the locations you want them stored.

However, the issue is that it’s a complicated workaround to maintain, and becomes unmanageable when your business starts to expand.

Plus, having a system that’s difficult to understand will only serve to become a hindrance in the event you need to perform a product recall.

For tracking inventory at multiple warehouses, you’re going to need a tool that can integrate QuickBooks Online lot tracking for multi-location inventory management.

Doesn’t support manufacturing

Manufacturing industries require different features when it comes to inventory management, and their needs are so diverse, there are apps on the market built specifically for one area.

Some apps support different types of industries. Unfortunately, lot tracking in QuickBooks isn’t going to have the features you need, unless you find an app that integrates with QuickBooks.

Manufacturers looking for lot tracking in QuickBooks are going to struggle without finding a 3rd party integration that can give you those needed features for manufacturing, such as:

The lack of advanced features makes QuickBooks Online difficult to use for manufacturers in general, but for those industries that handle perishable goods, they need tools for:

QuickBooks Online is designed for accounting

The primary function of QuickBooks Online is to give its users a general accounting software and is designed to cater to as many business types as possible.

QuickBooks lot tracking is possible, but only with the use of production and manufacturing management tools.

That’s why QuickBooks has the Appstore, so you can use their software for your bookkeeping needs, and integrate any apps to give you the extra functions that you require.

Get QuickBooks Online lot tracking with Katana

Desktop version, it’s possible to track serial numbers via advanced inventory, but online version doesn’t have capability.

Katana manufacturing software is a 3rd party lot tracking solution with integration functions to give you the tools for QuickBooks Online lot tracking.

Katana bridges the gap between your sales, production, and accounting to give you a smooth workflow, centralized to one, easy to understand, platform.

When using Katana, you can take advantage of:

QuickBooks Online lot tracking

Katana has a product traceability system, which allows you to save and track historical information on products, as well as trace them to their most recent location.

Automated inventory management

Upgrade your QuickBooks inventory management with automated tracking of your raw materials and finished goods inventory.

Production planning and scheduling

Katana automatically schedules and allocates material to production. However, our nifty drag-and-drop system allows you to reprioritize your workflow.



How to connect QuickBooks to Katana

Katana offers a 14-day free trial, so you can sign-up, integrate QuickBooks, and start testing out the software within a few minutes.

And to get set-up is easy:

1. Firstly, head over to Katana and sign up for the free trial.

Try Katana for free

2. Once set-up, head over to the Settings screen, and connect your QuickBooks account to Katana by clicking the Connect button.

Katana and QuickBooks Online integration

3. Finally, configure how you wish Katana to interact with your QuickBooks account, including:

  • Defining the status of invoices sent from Katana to QuickBooks
  • Defining the status of bills sent from Katana to QuickBooks
  • Mapping your tax rates
  • Importing customer and supplier details from QuickBooks to Katana

4. Select Done and that’s it! You’ve taken the first step toward automated manufacturing and can now start using QuickBooks Online lot tracking.



What to takeaway from this article

It’s good for manufacturers who:

  • Make products with single-level assemblies
  • Distribute goods with a long shelf life
  • Don’t need QuickBooks Online lot tracking for stocked items or perform value-added services

It’s bad for manufacturers who:

  • Make products with multi-level BOMs and need lot tracking capabilities;
  • Work within food production and cosmetic manufacturing
  • Work in an industry that needs to track perishable goods (including electronics)
  • Perform value-added services that require them to monitor inventory

QuickBooks Online is a fantastic tool for managing your finances. However, for scaling manufacturers, the absence of features for QuickBooks Online lot tracking and production means you’re going to need to develop another system to help you with this aspect of your business.

But developing your own system is going to cost you time and money.

Katana allows you to bridge the gap with its batch manufacturing features, by easily integrating and synchronizing with your QuickBooks account.

We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch in the comments below or over on our social media.

And until next time, happy manufacturing.

Switching from QuickBooks Desktop to Online

Wondering if you need to get yourself set up with QBO? In collaboration with Intuit's Leah Hartman, Katana hosted a webinar on the benefits of QBO and how to make a smooth transition.
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James Humphreys

Senior Content Manager

James Humphreys has a background in creative writing and has been writing about the manufacturing industry for 3+ years.

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