Pros & Cons of Fishbowl: Analysis of a Top Inventory Management Software

What are the pros and cons of Fishbowl?
The pros and cons of Fishbowl lie in its ability to seamlessly integrate with Quickbooks and provide expanded inventory management capabilities. The full version’s price may seem hefty, but Fishbowl provides a complete inventory management solution suited to small and medium businesses.

With over 5.5 million customers worldwide, Intuit’s Quickbooks is one of the top small business accounting software. However, its strength lies in its powerful accounting features and easy-to-use interface. When it comes to inventory management, Quickbooks could use some assistance from a third-party system.

When Intuit opened its doors to third-party developers, which provided added functionality to Quickbooks, Fishbowl quickly became the standard in seamless integration. Fishbowl lets you go beyond the capabilities of Quickbooks in inventory management and ensures data remains continually updated and consolidated.

This guide on the pros and cons of Fishbowl will help you decide if your business can benefit from adding this inventory management software to your tech stack, especially if you are using Quickbooks for your accounting needs. We’ll discuss some of the benefits of Fishbowl, as well as any potential shortcomings of the product.

The movement from traditional desktop accounting to cloud accounting has grown further as businesses became aware of the latter’s advantages: improved data accuracy, better collaboration, widespread availability, and reduced maintenance costs. By 2020, 78% of SMBs will be fully dependent on cloud-based accounting solutions to run their systems, and the business is projected to increase its market size from $2.62 billion today to $4.25 billion by 2023.

While accounting software monitors your company’s overall fiscal health, it is equally wise to pay attention to your inventory. In a retail vision study conducted in 2017 by Zebra Technologies, it was estimated that the worldwide cost of inventory distortion, including overstock, stock-outs, and shrinkage totaled $1.1 trillion, and that reducing stock-outs and overstocks can cut down a company’s inventory costs by 10%.

inventory statistics on distortion

So, integrating your accounting program with an inventory management system makes perfect sense, if only to keep closer tabs on your finances. Both systems share everyday transactions like sales orders, bill of materials, and purchase requisitions, etc. With a consolidated setup, they can save you time and money, reduce labor requirements, and churn out more accurate reports on-demand, as well as better insights into the company’s resources and efficiency in managing them.

What is Fishbowl?

Fishbowl Dashboard

Fishbowl is an inventory management software that is ideal for SMBs, specifically those that are using Quickbooks. It works as a powerful asset tracking solution to manage assets, products and, stocks easily and more efficiently. The seamless integration between Fishbowl and Quickbooks means that they share the same database, and allows you to get a better and more accurate picture of your company’s warehousing health. This also translates into savings in terms of thousands of dollars, as acquiring Fishbowl means preserving your initial investment in Quickbooks and enjoying the benefits of integration.

Fishbowl’s robust tools allow you to complete your warehousing tasks easier and more efficiently. It takes up where Quickbooks left off and provides a fuller range of functions that help track items, monitor stock levels, and manage common tasks like creating job orders, bill of materials, or item movement.

Hailed as one of the top inventory management programs for QuickBooks, Fishbowl can easily integrate dozens of software and hardware solutions that link and automate many business processes. It offers additional solutions that further automate business processes, including CRM integration for ecommerce, shipping solutions, HR timekeeping services, customer payment processing, and more.

Fishbowl List of Key Features

  • Integration with QuickBooks and other solutions
  • Ecommerce and online shopping integration
  • Pick, pack, and ship items
  • Generate work orders
  • Save commonly used work orders and bills of materials
  • Inventory and asset tracking across locations
  • Automatic reorder points
  • Real-time inventory updates
  • New barcode creation
  • Expanded item tracking
  • Default and custom reports
  • Asset level monitoring across locations
  • Pallet units of measure conversion

Detailed Fishbowl Review

Fishbowl Advantages and Disadvantages

Seamless integration with Quickbooks 

This pros and cons of Fishbowl article starts with the software’s most prominent feature: seamless integration with Quickbooks. Having Fishbowl and Quickbooks work with the same database syncs your financial records with your inventory. This results in unnecessary manual data re-entries, and by extension, reduced occurrences of double entries or inaccurate/ mismatched records. The integration isn’t exclusive to Quickbooks; however, as Fishbowl also announced full integration with Xero, another popular cloud accounting software.

Fishbowl QiuckBooks integration

Fishbowl integration with Quickbooks and Xero

Suited for small and medium businesses 

As Quickbooks is designed for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), Fishbowl’s features and functionalities are similarly designed with SMBs in mind. Fishbowl helps squeeze more out of your previous Quickbooks investment through seamless integration, where both benefit from sharing the same database. However, larger companies with highly complex operations may still be better served by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.

Expanded inventory management

Fishbowl has plenty of features that take off from Quickbooks’s limitations. For example, Quickbooks can only create a bill of materials for simple assembly work, while Fishbowl can generate a bill of materials for both simple and multiple-level assembly work. For calculating costs, Quickbooks uses average costing and FIFO. Fishbowl ups the ante by supporting not just average cost and FIFO, but also LIFO and standard cost methods. Fishbowl also has functions totally unavailable in Quickbooks, such as Return Merchandise Authorization job status updates, and transfer orders between warehouses.

Manage Multiple Warehouses

Opening a new warehouse for your growing inventory shouldn’t be a cause of concern for your inventory management software. While Quickbooks sees only a single warehouse, Fishbowl treats each warehouse as separate locations, which means separate inventory reports. Each location can be further subdivided into different areas (receiving, dispatching, etc.). As an added convenience, Fishbowl allows you to transfer items between warehouses without the need for a sales/purchase order.

Generate New Barcodes

Barcodes have become a standard inventory system, as it’s a faster and more efficient way of tracking items compared to the old manual system. Quickbooks can deal with barcodes, but its ability is limited to recognizing and scanning existing barcodes. Fishbowl takes barcoding to the next level by allowing you to create, generate, and print new barcodes easily.

Fishbowl Generate Barcodes

Fishbowl lets you create barcodes

Kitting convenience

Kitting, or the combining of several items to create a single unit, is a novel strategy that not only presents savings opportunities for both client and supplier but also helps move inventory faster. Quickbooks does not support kitting when dealing with sales orders but instead requires each item to be added individually. Fishbowl supports kitting, and even lets you include optional kit items, and adjusts the bundle price accordingly.

Automatic purchase orders

Stock-outs are one of the persistent headaches in inventory management, as replenishing a depleted item is more troublesome than ensuring stock levels are adequate. Fishbowl’s Auto Purchase Order feature automatically generates purchase orders when inventory items hit their reorder points. As a result, your business can now avoid incidences of zero or low inventory without having to do anything. Meanwhile, Quickbooks does not have this feature.

Fishbowl auto purchase order

Fishbowl’s auto purchase order feature

Extensive support documentation

Fishbowl’s pricing scheme entails a one-time purchase that grants users non-expiring use of the software. However, an annual license fee is required to avail of the latest software updates and continuous customer support. Apart from customer support, Fishbowl created a wiki resource page that provides an extensive library of training videos, how-to guides, and step-by-step instructions. As time zone difference affects the rate of response, the Fishbowl resource pages may provide a quicker source of answers to common problems.

Fishbowl documentation

Fishbowl documentation site

Shared server space

Fishbowl works more efficiently when its server also hosts Quickbooks. It is still possible to run Fishbowl and Quickbooks on separate servers, but this sometimes leads to connectivity problems between the separate servers connect. Also, periodic batch updates take longer to complete when Fishbowl and Quickbook servers are communicating using separate servers.

Reports generation

With just a few clicks, Fishbowl easily generates and prints standard reports (bill of materials, sales orders, job orders, etc.). However, creating and printing custom reports require tweaking to get the desired results. While this allows for more flexibility in creating reports, some users find the adjustments more cumbersome than expected.

Fishbowl modify report

Fishbowl create custom report feature

Will Fishbowl make sense for your business right now?

Taking your business to the next level entails upgrading your tools as well. Fishbowl offers the ability to expand your inventory management capabilities without having to replace your current accounting software. It is priced reasonably with a good entry point for those who are weaning themselves from free inventory systems or planning for a solid foundation. As this pros and cons of Fishbowl article outlined, the pluses far outweigh the minuses; thus, the software is worth your time and money.

More so, for small- and medium-sized companies looking for seamless integration with Quickbooks, Fishbowl should be one of their top choices and, in fact, a main component of their small business tech infrastructure.

Daniel Epstein

By Daniel Epstein

Daniel Epstein is a senior financial research analyst at FinancesOnline and the architect behind our Fintech and ERP content division. His main areas of expertise are blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies, and the use of biometrics in fintech solutions. His work has been frequently quoted by such publications as Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, and LA Times. With more than 1,800 solutions scrutinized in the last 5 years spent on our team he always prioritized offering readers an unbiased perspective on modern financial technologies.

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