QuickBooks 2013 Bin Locations

Written by Charlie Russell

Intuit introduced the multiple inventory site feature in QuickBooks Enterprise V11, as a part of the optional Advanced Inventory feature. This allowed you to create up to 200 Inventory Sites to hold your QuickBooks inventory. This year they are expanding this feature to add a second level, Locations within Inventory Sites, which is something that many people have been asking for. Let’s see how this changes things.

PLEASE NOTE that much of this is based on information from an early release candidate of QuickBooks 2013 – it is possible that some features may vary from what is described here. Also, this applies strictly to the U.S. editions of QuickBooks in the Windows environment. The UK and Canadian versions may include some of these features.

The general concept of inventory sites was that you would define a small number of places where you could hold your inventory – along the lines of multiple warehouses or store locations. Intuit wasn’t talking about specific “bins” or places within the warehouse, they were thinking on a larger scale. Given this approach, in Enterprise V11 and V12 they limited the number of inventory sites to 200. That works for large scale “sites”, but it doesn’t fit the bill for many people. If you have a warehouse with a lot of unique bin locations then the initial release Advanced Inventory didn’t work well for you.

In QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions V13 we now have the ability to define locations within those sites. And, the limit in this list is now capped at 1,000,000 entries, which should be more widely acceptable.

Note that sometimes QuickBooks refers to this as the location feature, sometimes as the bin location feature.

Enabling QuickBooks Bin Locations for Inventory Sites

This feature is only available in QuickBooks Enterprise with the optional Advanced Inventory subscription. In your Preferences select Items & Inventory and click the Advanced Inventory Settings button.

If you have not enabled Multiple Inventory Sites already, you will need to check that box. This will open the Enable Multiple Inventory Sites window, where you can create an inventory site for your current inventory. All of your items on hand will be moved to this inventory site.

Enable Inventory Sites

Now that you have an inventory site created (or, if you already had this set up) you can enable the new location feature by checking the Track Locations within Inventory Sites box. QuickBooks doesn’t ask you for a name for the starting bin location, instead it will place everything in a bin location named Unassigned.

Enabling Bin Locations

When you enable location tracking you do NOT get to specify the default name. This is not good. I dislike “Unassigned” as that may have special meaning to me. You can’t easily do a bulk rename for this (there is a separate “Unassigned” location for each site). To get your items to the bin location that you want you have to do an individual transfer transaction for every item. This could be a major pain point for some businesses.

Bin Locations are essentially “sub-sites”, similar to what you have with items and sub-items. As you can see, the new Unassigned bin location is shown as a lower level of the Main Warehouse site that I just created. Here’s an example from a file where I already had several inventory sites established.

Inventory sites and locations

You can add new inventory sites and locations to the Inventory Site List (found in the Lists menu). Here’s a window to add a new inventory site.

Add a new inventory site

If you wish to add a location within a given site you will use the same window – check the is a location within site box and select the inventory site that holds this bin location.

Add a bin location

When you enable this feature you have a new option in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature for inventory sites, and you can see the locations in the list. However, I do have a problem with the way this is managed (at least in this first release, I hope they will change it in the future). Note that the inventory site name shows in the first column for an inventory site, but that for a location the inventory site name is now pushed to the second column.

Add/Edit Multiple List Entries for Inventory Sites

Why is this a problem for me? Well, other than the issue of being a bit hard to follow, it creates a big problem if you want to import location names from an Excel spreadsheet.  To me, it would be logical to have my locations listed like this in Excel:

Excel bin location list

However, if I paste this into QuickBooks, it isn’t formatted right. This won’t work.

Can't post bin locations this way

How about if I reverse the columns? This works!

Paste without errors?

OK, so not too bad. However, the problem comes if you want to import both inventory sites and locations at the same time. You have to either enter the inventory site by itself, first, and then the locations, or you have to create a spreadsheet that has the columns mixed up. I don’t particularly like this.

Mixing sites and locations

This is not a big problem as most people won’t be doing this on a regular basis, I think, It is just something that should have been done in a better way.

Using Bin Locations

Now that we have it set up, whenever you have a transaction where items are received, sold, adjusted or built you have the option to specify both the inventory site and the bin location. You will have to select the inventory site to be able to see a list of the bin locations.

Item Receipt with bin location

To help you be more efficient, if there is only one bin location defined for this inventory site then QuickBooks will fill in the value for you automatically, rather than having you use the dropdown list.

One minor annoyance – in the dropdown list for location you can see the indented list of sites and locations. You can pick a site in this column, which you shouldn’t be able to do. Yes, QuickBooks warns you that you can’t do this, after you have selected it. But why let me pick a bad value in the first place? The site shouldn’t show in this dropdown.

Receiving Items

As you would expect, when you are receiving items you can specify a site and location. There is, however, another nifty feature that has been added, a Stock List report sorted by site/location.

Here’s my item receipt, with items that I’ve received at different sites and locations. Note that in the top ribbon bar there is a print icon, and one of the options is the stock list.

Print Stock List in QuickBooks 2013

The Stock List report shows all of the items, sorted by Site and Location. This is a VERY useful feature.

Stock List by Site and Location

Sales Forms

Similar to what we see in the item receipt, you can get a pick list for a sales order that is sorted by site/location. You’ll find this in the Print button menu.

Pick List for sales order

Sorted pick list

There are a couple of nice things when working with sales forms and how locations work with lot tracking and serial numbers:

  • If you enter an item, site and location in a sales form, QuickBooks will only show the lots or serial numbers available in that location.
  • If on the other hand you enter an item, site and either lot or serial number, QuickBooks will only show you the locations that have that lot or serial number.

Default Bin Locations in Sales and Receipts

OK, here is one that isn’t all that obvious. It is a nice feature, I just wish they didn’t implement it quite the way that they did.

Select Inventory Parts in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries. Click Customize Columns and you will see two new columns, Default Purchase Bin and Default Sales Bin. Add them to the display.

Now, if you select a particular inventory site, you can specify a default bin location, for that item at that site.

Default bin locations

Now, create a new invoice, select this item, select this inventory site, and the program automatically selects the default bin location per this setting. Smooth!

Invoice with Site and Location

I didn’t check all of the places that this should happen, but every one that I looked at worked fine. Invoices, estimates, checks, item receipts, bills – they all supported this feature.

My gripe about this (again, not a major problem) is that the Add/Edit Multiple List Items window is the only place you can edit this. You can’t see, or edit this, in the Edit Item window. THAT is the place that I would normally want to see ALL fields that you can edit for an item.


There aren’t a lot of places where you can see reports with information on actual locations. This is an area that needs more work (I will admit that I’m still looking and finding things…).

Inventory Site Listing

This report now includes the locations along with the sites. Not the most attractive listing. Also, it is a bit of a pain to customize this to get ONLY the sites. There should be a simple check box or customize option for this. You can customize the report to add a filter for just sites, but you have to click on each site to include. If you have 200 sites and don’t want the locations, this isn’t practical.

Inventory Site Listing

Inventory Site List

A better report than the Inventory Site Listing is found from the Reports dropdown at the bottom of the Inventory Site List. Select Inventory Site Listing. You can’t filter this or edit the format at all, but at least it has a nice indented structure and is more readable.

Inventory Site List

Items by Bin Location

This is a new report, which shows the quantity you have on hand at each bin.

Items by Bin Location

In the R1 release of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions V13 I’ve found a few bugs in this report. If you like what it shows above, you are OK. If you start to “customize” it, you don’t always get the results that you expect. It is easier to hide location information than it is to add it back to the report or select by location. That should be resolved in an upcoming release.

Note that if you enable Serial Numbers (and probably Lot Numbers, but I haven’t tried that yet) you will see the additional information for each item at each location.

Items by Bin Location with Serial Number

Inventory Stock Status by Site

This report shows information by location, but only if you choose the particular location from the inventory site dropdown. You can’t see all information by location for all locations. Only one location, or a summary by site without any location information. The same is true for the Inventory Valuation Summary by Site and Quantity on Hand by Location reports.

Inventory Stock Status by Site report

To be honest, I’m not sure what reports I would want. I guess that I’m looking for some more flexibility here. I have to think about what kinds of reports would be helpful

My Conclusion

I have mixed feelings about this feature, to tell the truth. For the most part I like it, but I’m concerned with how it will affect users who have a very large item list.

Dealing with multiple levels of sites and locations can be tricky. It is too easy to get carried away and have an overwhelming amount of information. I believe that this is one of the reasons why Intuit first limited the multiple site feature to 200 sites. On the other hand, for some businesses, the 200 site limit was too restrictive. In addition, many distribution and manufacturing businesses have multiple kinds of locations within sites. There are quite a few things that you can do with sites and locations!

This still, however, isn’t a fully developed location/site feature. You don’t, for example, have a way to restrict sales from a particular location (something that is VERY useful). And the management tools are a bit skimpy here. Not a lot of reports or queries to help you manage inventory over multiple sites AND locations.

Having said that, I can see an advantage to Intuit taking this slowly and bringing out details over time. Better to get the basics working before you jump into the big time?

So, what do I think?

  • I really like the ability to create locations within sites. It is something that many people have been requesting. The increase of the limit of sites will be welcome in some businesses. Some of the hidden features in the forms (sorted pick list, for example) are neat. This is a step forward for this feature.
  • I have reservations, though. From what I can see Intuit has not improved the database handling capability of the program. As Bill Murphy describes in his article on QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Database Problems, Intuit is already pushing the limits of the QuickBooks database as configured. If you have a modest number of sites and locations, this won’t be too bad. If you have a very large number, this might not be the best product to use.

As with other features, my recommendation is to not rush out and jump into the R1 release. Let’s see what kind of fixes come up in the next few months. This is a big change to the system, so caution is advised.

Want to see QuickBooks 2013 in action? Join us for a FREE Webinar on September 28th, What’s New in QuickBooks 2013, presented by Doug Sleeter and Charlie Russell

About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • Charlie, when you use transfer items from one site to another, can you go from site-A>bin4 to site-B>shelf 7? Or is an intermediate step required?

    • Rustler, in the Transfer Inventory window, you specify at the top which “from” warehouse to use, and which “to” warehouse to use.

      In the detail section, where you can select each item, you specify the “bin” to use on both sides.

      So what you ask is covered in one step – the only thing you can’t do is mix up different “from” or “to” warehouses in one transaction. You can’t transfer from “A” to both “B” and “C” sites in one transaction. That shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Our company ONLY needs the multiple warehouse function and would prefer to purchase software rather than pay a yearly user fee as Intuit has structured their Advanced Inventory add on.

    Do you have a program or know of a third-party program that will offer the multiple warehouse function?

    Thanks for your site and insight.


    • Wendy, it is hard to get away from some sort of annual fee. To handle multiple warehouses there are a number of other add-on systems, but they usually move the inventory outside of QuickBooks and use QB just for the financial side. Take a look at products like Fishbowl Inventory and ACCTivate (I have not fully reviewed those products yet, hopefully later this year).

      • Thanks, Charlie.

        We’ll take a look at ACCTivate.

        In the past I’ve found Fishbowl hard to implement with too many bugs, and expensive both dollar wise and in time. It has been a few years so I look forward to your review.

        I used the Advanced Inventory feature on a limited basis last year and for that found it easy to work with.

  • Hi Charlie

    If you use a Custom transaction Detail report (the most important report in the world for me) You CAN filter transaction lines by Stock Site but NOT by Bin Location

    Also, you can “total by” Stock site but not by location bin.

    Weirdly, even when both are showing in your report, you cannot “sort” the data by them.

    I’m pretty sure this is a bug, as what reason would there be for disallowing this functionality?

    Have you noticed this?

    (I am using Quickbooks Enterprise UK Version 13)


  • Hi Charlie,

    I have Quickbooks 2014 R4 with the Advanced Inventory Module (Canadian version). I am initializing my inventory and I would like to make a nice spreadsheet with my item list and the quantity on hand *per bin location* before importing it.

    From what I’ve read online, the import function does not seem to be able to handle this. It seems like I need to import the item list with the bulk quantity and then transfer my inventory to the required bin locations in quickbooks itself. Would you agree?


    • You would have to do that in two steps – add the item list, then do inventory adjustment transactions to the site. It is a pain, and you would need to use an add-on product to do this, such as the Transaction Pro Importer from Baystate Consulting. But, I would check with them to make sure that they can do that with the Canadian version of A.I.

  • I wanted to find out if there is a way to print a sorted pick slip from an invoice or if you could create a sales order from an invoice. We currently have webgility bring in orders as invoices but it get s to be a pain in the neck to pick from a large size order with everything out of order.

    any suggestions would be great!

    • Cathy, QuickBooks by itself won’t sort orders. And moving from an invoice to a sales order won’t change that aspect of things.

      One alternative is to use a product like CCRQInvoice (http://www.ccrsoftware.com/CCRQInvoice/InvoiceQ.htm ) which allows sorting of orders. HOWEVER, there are some cautions there. You may not want to sort the order in the simple way because that may break any connections between the order in QuickBooks and Webgility (I don’t know if that is a problem or not) because that sorted order will be treated as a different order than before. CCRQInvoice can get around that by just printing the order and sorting it there, rather than storing the sorted order back into QB. This takes a bit of setup – you should talk to the CCRQInvoice support staff for details (there is a suppport portal in the website).

      Full disclosure – I am the owner of CCRSoftware and produce this program. It is not affiliated with The Sleeter Group.

  • I am having an issues with turning on advanced inventory. My inventory items will not auto populate into the “new” warehouse. We will not be using bin locations, just need multiple warehouse. QB support suggested that I run an inventory valuation, adjust ALL inventory to 0, activate AI, and readjust the inventory values in the “new” warehouse. I know that these adjustments will not adversely affect the GL but it does seem a bit excessive and could allow for errors. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • I haven’t run across that issue myself, Alan, so I don’t have a specific answer. I don’t know what else you have tried, either. This may be a case where someone needs to look at the file. Have you done a “rebuild” of the file and examined the QBWIN.LOG file for unresolved errors?

  • Hello,

    Wondering if you are familiar with the 2016 version and it’s capabilities. We have a couple of thousand items and are trying to decide if we will need a separate program. Does quickbooks automatically enter the location of the product based on where the inventory is located, or do you have to know in your head where it is and manually select the location for each product??

    • Nina, if you look through this blog, you’ll see that we cover all years of QuickBooks (even through the 2017 release that just came out).

      Any inventory item can exist at any site or bin location, so you will always have to specify where the items should go when you receive them. It is not a very sophisticated feature.

    • Is there an answer to this question. We don’t know every location of every part when billing parts on an invoice, bin locations should be automatic when entering a part #. Right now we put everything to ” unassigned” ,which then shows a negative then we have to transfer quantity to proper bin.

  • Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for sharing some really useful information here. We recently add the advanced inventory module and trying to figure out the workings. When we started using this tool all the inventory was automatically entered to “unassigned” BIN location. Now we want to transfer the products to their respective BIN locations. But the process is very time consuming as we have to do it manually for every single item. Is there and easy and efficient way to accomplish this? We have more than items in stock and every one of them are stored in multiple BINS.

  • Hi Charlie,

    This article is really interesting and lay out the real behavior of the system. Unfortunate that Quickbook do not have that kind of good documentation.

    Have you experienced any situations where Quickbook automatically create a second ”unassigned” bin in a site with a star* (ie, *Unassigned)?

    We experience this with site that already have a unassigned bin created and for an unknown reason, Quickbook automatically generate a new bin called *Unassigned.