Understand your eCommerce Gross Margin with Seller Ledger

Seller Ledger is very pleased to announce the release of new functionality to help you track the gross margin in your eCommerce business.

What is Gross Margin and why is it important?

Gross margin, to put it simply, is how much profit you make on top the cost to create or acquire your products. This is before deducting other expenses needed to run your business. And it’s defined as a percentage of your overall revenue.

To use a super simple example:

  • It costs you $6 to make or buy something you intend to sell
  • You are able to sell that item for $10.

Your gross profit on that order would be $4, which would equate to a gross margin of 40%.

As for why gross margin is an important number to watch, let’s just say that it’s the starting point for any successful eCommerce business. If you aren’t making enough profit on each and every item you sell, you won’t be able to cover the additional expenses to run your business.

We will follow up with a more in-depth explanation, and some benchmarks on what a “good” gross margin looks like, so check back soon.

How do I find my gross margin?

Seller Ledger’s gross margin functionality only works for customers who are tracking costs on a per-item basis. You don’t need to track every single item cost, but the more you do, the more accurate your gross margin calculation will be.

If you click into the Inventory -> Sold view, you will now see a summary at the top of the screen that shows you the gross margin value and the percentage of transactions on which it’s based. To increase that percentage, you can enter more cost information for more orders.

In addition, there is a new dashboard tile that shows your gross margin for the current month. We have replaced the old “Cost of Goods” tile for inventory trackers, as this new information contains more detail – not only how much cost information you’ve entered, but also how much profit you’re generating.

Stay tuned for more updates in this direction, as we continue to look for ways to provide more insight into your business.

Record inventory purchase after item has sold

Do you ever sell an item before you’ve acquired the inventory? How do you account for that? Seller Ledger has a new setting to allow that.

By default, when Seller Ledger attempts to match inventory cost information with a sale, we assume that the sold item was purchased before the date of sale. However, based on feedback from a few customers, we have heard of the need to be able to support purchases that are made after an item has already sold.

To do that, we have added a new option under the Settings -> Business view:

Click the edit (pencil) icon under “Orders to Purchase Date Matching” and you’ll be presented with this dialog box:

Choose the second option to also allow matching to “future” purchases and voila – Seller Ledger will now let you match to purchases made after the sale.

A few small enhancements for tax season

In an effort to make it even easier to prepare for 2023 taxes, Seller Ledger has rolled out a few small enhancements.

View sales that have no cost information

For those of you tracking inventory at the item level, we’ve made it a bit easier to identify any remaining sales for which you haven’t yet entered cost information. In the Inventory -> Sold view, there is a new filter to allow you to select sales where cost information is missing:

View “in-stock” inventory totals

At the top of the Inventory -> In Stock view, we now show you the total count and cost of all of your unsold inventory:

Mileage totals

At the top of the Expenses -> Mileage view, you can now see both the total number of miles driven, and the total mileage expenses to deduct. In addition, we’ve added date range selectors so you can choose different periods to review:

While these aren’t the largest changes, they do reflect customer feedback about small ways to make the product a bit easier to use, which in turn, makes accounting and taxes less of a pain. Please keep sending us feedback at [email protected].

Upload inventory into Seller Ledger

For eCommerce merchants who want to track their inventory stock levels and per-item gross profit, we’ve now made it easier for higher volume sellers to load their inventory information into Seller Ledger.

If you make large purchases from certain vendors, and don’t want to type all of those items into Seller Ledger, there’s now an easy way to upload your items (and cost information) via a CSV file. Simply generate a comma-separated file that contains columns with headings of “sku“, “product name“, “quantity” and “total cost” and upload it inside of any of your inventory purchase transactions.

Not only can this help you save time when entering purchase information, but it comes in particularly handy if you want to start the year off fresh, or import inventory from another platform.

Read more about how it all works in our knowledge base article.

Tracking cost of goods sold with eBay

eBay cost of goods sold tracking has been a challenge for years (as we have heard from both customers and members of the eBay management team.)

Not too long ago, Seller Ledger rolled out inventory tracking, complete with some nifty automated cost of goods sold calculations. But for eBay sellers, that functionality depends on the use of an optional listing field called “Custom label (SKU).” And it turns out, that field is not shown by default when creating listing templates. So, we thought we’d help folks learn how to find and use that field, and what magic it can potentially unlock.

When you start to create a listing, one of the first things you’ll do is create a title for your item. By default, you will see two fields: Item title and Subtitle. However, if you click on the link to the upper right, called “See title options“, you will see a few more options pop up. One of those options is “Custom label (SKU)”.

Click on the selector to turn that field on, and you should see an updated form that looks like this:

Now, you have the ability to enter information about this item in the Custom label (SKU) field. But what should you put there, and why is it important?

You can choose to put anything you’d like in there, but, if you follow this guidance in conjunction with Seller Ledger, you will see two major benefits:

  1. Have your inventory reduced and your cost of goods sold automatically calculated when an item sells
  2. See how much money you make on each sale

The key concept here is to have a unique identifier (SKU) for each item you sell on eBay. How you create that identifier is up to you. Some people put a combination of letters and numbers, with some parts relating to the product name, or the bin number in which they are are currently stored. Others simply choose ever-increasing numbers. What matters most is that each SKU value is unique to that eBay item.

In Seller Ledger, when you purchase items for resale, you now have the ability to create a product/item, complete with a Product SKU field.

add-product-sku-cogs

If you enter the same value in your eBay listing under “Custom label (SKU)” that you enter in Selller Ledger under “Product SKU”, you can sit back and watch the magic happen. When one of those items sells on eBay, Seller Ledger will match the order to your inventory, reduce the number of “in stock” units in inventory, and automatically calculate the cost of goods sold for that item, and show you the gross profit for that sale, as seen below.

Feel free to dig in for a more in-depth look at how Seller Ledger helps automate inventory and cost of goods tracking.

Interested in giving this a try? Seller Ledger offers a 30-day free trial, no credit card required.

Seller Ledger adds easy inventory tracking for eCommerce sellers

eCommerce sellers, large and small, now have the ability to track inventory with Seller Ledger. Until now, customers could only write off inventory as “cost of goods sold” when purchased. But no longer!

Why track inventory in Seller Ledger?

There are a number of reasons to track inventory:

  1. For most eCommerce sellers, the IRS requires that you do so.
  2. It better aligns costs with your sale.
  3. If done properly at the item level, it can help automate accurate stock levels (avoid stockouts,) as well as tell you how much money you make on individual orders and items.

So what does Seller Ledger offer in terms of eCommerce inventory tracking?

There are now 2 main ways to track inventory in Seller Ledger: what we call “balance-level” and “item-level” tracking.

Option 1: Balance level tracking (a.k.a. “periodic inventory”)

For those sellers who don’t want to track every item of inventory, the IRS uses a simple formula to help you calculate “cost of goods sold”:

Cost of Goods Sold = Beginning balance + Purchases – Ending balance

We’ve modeled our new inventory view after this simple formula:

Using this approach is pretty straightforward – you only have to do a few things:

  1. Count/estimate the cost of all of your unsold inventory once per year (or quarter, or month – you choose)
  2. Track purchased goods/materials for resale throughout the year
  3. Do some simple math (or let Seller Ledger do it for you)

Read a more detailed explanation of exactly how this works in practice.

Option 2: Item level tracking (a.k.a. “continuous inventory”)

Do you already keep a spreadsheet of all of your inventory, including how much you paid for each item? When an item sells, do you have to go back and update it? Have you tried to figure out how much money you make on each sale? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then this option is for you.

While a bit more effort is required, the steps are quite simple:

  1. When you purchase goods for resale, categorize them as Inventory purchases
  2. Within each purchase, enter each item, including a unique SKU value, and the item’s cost. This process works very similar to splitting transactions.
  3. Alternatively, you can start from your list of sold items (the order history we’ve already imported for you) and just tell us which purchase transaction included the item sold.

If you provide Seller Ledger with this level of detail, we do a few things for you automatically when an item sells (matching first based on SKU first, then by name):

  1. We reduce the stock level for that item in your inventory
  2. We calculate and generate the cost of goods for that item
  3. We show you your gross profit for that order

Learn more about how to use “item level” inventory tracking.

Do I have to track inventory in Seller Ledger?

You do not. If you would prefer to just categorize inventory purchases as “cost of goods sold,” you are free to do so. But, you might want to make sure you understand the risks with that approach. We’ll be writing another post about that option soon.

How do I try this out?

Just discovering Seller Ledger? Start a 30 day free trial right now – no credit card required.


For existing customers, just log into Seller Ledger, and you will see two new changes to the website. First, on the left of your Dashboard, we have added and made visible a new “Inventory” asset account. Second, there is a new top-level navigation link for Inventory. For those who previously categorized inventory purchases as “cost of goods sold,” you can elect to switch to properly tracking inventory. We explain more about how that works here.

Is there an additional charge for tracking inventory in Seller Ledger?

No – this feature is available to all customers at no additional charge. Unlike other accounting/bookkeeping platforms, we think even the smallest sellers should be able to see how much money they make on each item and keep on top of their inventory stock levels.

Please tell us what you think

This is a pretty big release, and represents weeks of work and planning. It’s also something we never got to tackle with Outright/GoDaddy Bookkeeping. As such, we’d love to hear from you as you try this new functionality – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Thanks from the Seller Ledger Team