What Is Inventory? Raw Materials, WIP, & Finished Goods

What is inventory in accounting

This system works well for retail businesses specializing in non-perishable goods or those with a low risk of obsolescence. It can also increase COGS and lessen net profit (therefore reducing annual tax liability) if more recently purchased goods are more expensive. The purpose of the inventory is to provide a buffer between the time that a company orders new goods and the time that they are able to sell them. The inventory allows companies to have a continuous flow of products while avoiding the need to place new orders too frequently.

What is inventory in accounting

Meaning the crux of the matter in all this is to correctly track both the cost of any inventory sold and place an accurate value on the unsold inventory being held at the end of each accounting period. Inventory management is of utmost importance and is usually one of the main assets on a company’s balance sheet. Inventory management will separate successful businesses from unsuccessful businesses. Managers can make use of inventory turnover and other ratios to measure the exact what the value per piece of stock will be to the company.

Understanding Inventory

Finished goods are products that are 100% completed and are ready to be sold. In the case of the chips example, the chips will be in the bags, boxed together and ready to be sold to retailers or wholesalers. In an inflationary period, LIFO will generate higher cost of goods sold than the FIFO method will. As such, using the LIFO method would generate a lower inventory balance than the FIFO method would.

What is inventory in accounting

Inventory devaluation reduces (C) the Inventory object code for the devaluation of goods not sold over time and increases (D) the Cost of Goods Sold object code in the sales operating account. Conducting an accurate physical inventory is a vital component to creating an accurate, consolidated balance sheet at the university level. The physical inventory results directly impact the unit’s cost of goods sold, revenue, and profit, and ultimately, the information presented on the university’s financial statements. Businesses can assign the cost of inventory by using the FIFO (first-in, first-out), LIFO (last-in, first-out) or the weighted average costing method.

Adjusting the General Ledger Inventory Balance

The conceptual explanation for this is that raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods (current assets) are turned into revenue. The cost of goods flows to the income statement via the cost of goods sold (COGS) account. The main advantage of inventory accounting is to have an accurate representation of the company’s financial health.

  • You’ll just need to stipulate which one is being used when submitting financial records and accounts.
  • When goods are sold, properly record the transactions and ensure that the correct items are billed and shipped to customers.
  • Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.
  • Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University.
  • This chapter covers the basics of inventory accounting for greater understanding of inventory management as a whole.

Unless this is accurately captured in the company financials, the value of the company’s assets and thus the company itself might be inflated. Also called stock turnover, this is a metric that measures how much of a company’s inventory is sold, replaced, or used and how often. This figure provides insight into how profitable a company is and whether there are inefficiencies that need to be addressed.

Inventory control is a critical concept in business management a company must make sure that they have the right goods at the right time. For example, in a company that manufactures chips, the raw materials will be potatoes and oil. The ending balance of inventory for a period depends on the volume of sales a company makes in each period. There is an interplay between the inventory account and the cost of goods sold in the income statement — this is discussed in more detail below. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there’s continuity from sales to services to support.

Calculating COGS

Consumer demand is a key indicator that can determine whether inventory levels will turn over at a quick pace or if they won’t move at all. Higher demand typically means that a company’s products and services will move from the shelves into consumers’ hands quickly while weak demand often leads to a slow turnover rate. Since the costs of the items purchased or produced are likely to change (especially with inflation), companies must elect a cost flow assumption for valuing its inventory and its cost of goods sold.

For instance, a company runs the risk of market share erosion and losing profit from potential sales. This leaves you with the best of both worlds – two high-quality softwares automating as much of your inventory and accounting processes as possible. The LIFO approach works on the assumption that the most recent products added to your inventory are the first ones to be sold first. As a result, COGS helps you determine the amount of gross profit made in one or more sales. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice.

What is inventory?

This can be seen most prominently in products that require exceptional time or expense in secondary stages of production. Items such as pharmaceuticals, machinery, and technology are three products that require large amounts of expense after their initial designing. Work-in-progress inventory is the partially finished goods waiting for completion and resale. A half-assembled airliner or a partially completed yacht is often considered to be a work-in-process inventory. Manufacturers are required to report the amounts of each inventory category on its balance sheet or in the notes to the financial statements. Meaning the inventory management functionality within them is relatively basic and underdeveloped.


Manufacturers account for each step in the production process this makes the accounting a bit more complex. Raw materials inventory is any material directly attributable to the production of finished goods but on which work has not yet begun. Work-in-progress inventory consists of all partially completed units in production at a given point in time. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Methods to value the inventory include last-in, first-out, first-in, first-out, and the weighted average method.

Inventory consists of all raw material, work-in-process and finished goods that a company would sell or would need to make their products. Because of the varying time horizons and the possibility of differing costs, using a different system will result in a different value. Analysts must account for this difference when analyzing companies that use different inventory systems. Below is an example from Proctor & Gamble’s 2022 annual report (10-K) which shows a breakdown of its inventory by component. In fiscal 2022, P&G had materials and supplies (raw materials) of approximately $2.2 billion, work in process of $856 million, and finished goods of $3.9 billion.

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