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Hate The Idea Of Bookkeeping for Your Amazon Sales? Keep It Simple!

As part of our series on taxes, this post covers a solution for simple bookkeeping, Outright.com. See my last post on sales tax by Kat Simpson and Michael Rice for a book on the new sales tax requirements for Amazon sellers.

As FBA sellers, Amazon does a lot of the heavy lifting for us (in more ways than one!). There are many helpful reports available to us on Amazon SellerCentral to help us keep track of inventory and pay our sales taxes. They even collect sales tax for us for a small fee. However, if you’ve been successful selling, you’ll find that more is required when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam in April.

Let’s face it, bookkeeping is boring compared to selling. The trick is to accomplish what is required legally with the least amount of effort and the least amount of learning new things…and then get back to making money with FBA!

My personal bookkeeping situation is more complicated than most people who start their Amazon businesses because I already had a C Corporation and three other businesses running on Quickbooks. I do not recommend my solution for people who are new to running their own businesses and whose only business is as an Amazon FBA seller. There is a fairly steep learning curve to Quickbooks and it is better suited for more complicated businesses.

I get asked the bookkeeping question a lot, which is why I went looking for a simple solution to suggest. While I don’t personally use Outright.com, I know and respect several established sellers who do.

I talked with Outright.com representative Jenn Dunn to learn more about their online software and how it works for Amazon sellers. Outright’s bookkeeping solution is designed especially for online sellers whether they are eBay, Etsy or Amazon.com sellers. It simplifies the process by easily pulling reports, income and expense data from Amazon into the program.

Outright works by automatically tracking your FBA income and expenses to give you an up-to-date view of your company. You simply sign up for a free Outright account, import your Amazon account, and any other accounts you might use for your business – like a bank account, credit card, or PayPal, and then Outright does the rest.

It is simple to import all these accounts. When I tried it out, all I needed was my SellerCentral and PayPal logins to connect the accounts.

From there, Outright gives you a complete overview of your income and expenses. Not only does this let you get a clear overview of your business’s health (complete with charts and graphs for the visual folks ), it allows you to be prepared once tax time rolls around by tracking your write-offs.

Speaking of charts and graphs, if you really want to know the skinny on your business, Outright provides several financial reports to help you. Find out analytics like which vendors you paid the most money out to (Target or Big Lots or…?), and what your profit and losses were by month, quarter or year.

Are you having Amazon collect your sales tax for you? Most of us are small enough that we only have to pay sales tax quarterly. Outright will pull in the reports (i.e. massive spreadsheets) from Amazon’s SellerCentral and tell you instantly how much you owe each state in which you pay tax. This will make it much faster and easier for you to pay your sales tax.

Then comes federal tax time. Outright, which is designed with the sole-proprietor or LLC in mind, helps you fill in your Schedule C, reconcile tax forms you may receive, like the new 1099-K, and generally makes for a less taxing tax time.

If you have a CPA, you can quickly produce the reports he or she will need to prepare your taxes for you.

Outright’s basic package is free which is great for new sellers. When you are comfortable with the program and want to use it to help you pay your sales tax, the “Plus” program is $9.95 a month – far less than Quickbooks, believe me.

I signed up for a free account just to see how friendly it is and I was impressed. It was fast and easy to link my Amazon SellerCentral, bank and PayPal accounts. As a Quickbooks user since 1995, I can tell you Outright is hundreds of times friendlier and more intuitive. If you are still using spreadsheets to run your business, Outright will make your life easier.

In addition to the online software, Outright also has free tax and bookkeeping-related webinars to help Amazon Sellers be more successful. Here is the next one:

Savvy Amazon FBA sellers minimize their liability come tax time. Sign up here for Outright.com’s webinar “Keep Uncle Sam Out of Your Pocket! Tax Tips for Amazon Sellers” on Wednesday, September 19th at 1pm PT/4pm ET.

What about you? How are you keeping track of your income and expenses? Have any of you tried Outright.com? Post a comment here to share your experience!

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Rebecca September 3, 2012, 8:33 AM

    It sounds great but what about inventory? How does that work with outright? My spreadsheet gives me my net profit after fees and what I paid for inventory.

    • Cynthia Stine September 3, 2012, 11:10 AM

      Rebecca,

      Like most bookkeeping programs, Outright tracks money in and out. Your expenses for inventory are collected as you go in as much detail as you are willing to key in and then subtracted from your income. You can tie your business bank account and credit cards to Outright which will pull from them automatically. This is one of the many reasons I recommend a separate business account – easier bookkeeping. When Outright pulls in data from Amazon, it separates the expenses (fees for shipping, storage, commission, etc.) from the income. Personally, I don’t key in the splits so my expense for “Tuesday Morning” would be $375, for example, but not each individual item. I run my business on a cash basis so the expense is incurred immediately. I only realize profit as I receive the income. This is the simplest form of bookkeeping.

      If you want to find out how profitable a particular item was/is for you, then I suggest doing the math in a separate spreadsheet. In one of my earlier blogs, I shared a spreadsheet that I use that incorporates Amazon’s fees and a percentage for shipping, packaging etc., such that I know my minimum threshold that I must be able to sell an item in each category in order to make a profit. With my minimum fixed in my mind, I know at the point of purchase whether an item will be profitable for me or not.

      Hope this helps!
      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Rona September 4, 2012, 9:29 AM

    Hi Cynthia,
    I use Outright.com for bookeeping of another business. I was very excited to see the integration of both ebay, paypal and Amazon for setting up my new FBA business.
    The ease of use is incredible with the auto import of data from several accounts. One thing I did learn – log in to Outright.com every month to be certain your imports are working. Also Outright does allow for manual import if you are starting late in the business year.

    You can also find great articles on the Outright blog. There is one now that I am attending – Amazon FBA Webinar: Keep Uncle Sam Out of Your Pocket!
    http://outright.com/blog/amazon-fba-webinar-keep-uncle-sam-out-of-your-pocket/

  • Terri December 24, 2012, 7:24 PM

    This might be a really dumb question but how much does it cost to hire a CPA? How are they paid exactly? And what do they do for you specifically in relation to your Amazon business?

    • Cynthia Stine December 27, 2012, 7:15 PM

      Terri,

      A CPA helps you make sure to comply with federal tax laws. A good CPA will help you find deductions to save money. They are paid like any other service provider. Some take credit cards but most are paid in checks or cash. What my CPA does for me is help me manage my many tax strategies. I have a C-Corporation and three active DBAs (doing business as) companies underneath it. Ultimately, my goal is to pay as few taxes as legally required and so I use a CPA. She’s saved me far more than I’ve ever spent and her fees are tax deductible as a business expense.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Steve September 11, 2013, 5:43 PM

    Cynthia,

    I’d just like to make you aware of my experience with Outright and ask that you share other solutions if you could.

    Like many amazon sellers I was dead in the water for quite some time as Outright was unable to import from Amazon. Coming from an IT background I was just amazed it took so long for them to address such a fundamental failing of the service.

    Now that they have addressed the import issue I see that my checking account is not importing correctly. I’ve opened a ticket and although they say it has imported a screen print from my bank (forwarded to them) clearly shows many transactions that are not showing up.

    I also have a business credit card they are unable to get linked. This is not some obscure card either. I opened a ticket a MONTH ago and still no resolution. They blame it on their service provider but it is Outright I do business with. Could not care less why it isn’t working, just want it fixed.

    All in all I’m extremely disappointed with Outright. The support is slow and mediocre at best. Although a great idea the implementation is less than ideal.

    Personally, I would not recommend this service to my worst enemy. Ok, maybe to my worst enemy but not someone I just disliked.

    Thought you would like a counter point to any glowing reviews you have heard.

    Having said all of this do you have another solution you would like to share. I’ve been searching and searching and am coming up empty handed – amazing.

    Thanks,

    Steve Stepp

    • Cynthia Stine September 11, 2013, 7:23 PM

      Steve,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with Outright.com. I personally use Quickbooks Online because I’ve already got two other businesses running off it (and I made my Amazon.com business a division of my C-corp.). It costs more and it is more complicated (a lot more) than Outright.com. However, it is also a beast and can do any kind of accounting and federal tax reports you need. http://www.quickbooksonline.com

      I’ve heard they’ve got a lighter version aimed at online sellers called Quickbooks Connect, but I’ve not looked into it either because of my other two businesses that require the full QB: http://workplace.intuit.com/quickbooksconnect

      I have been hearing good things about InventoryLab from other FBA sellers, but I’ve not tried it myself. It is a new program so it may experience growing pains down the road as well. http://www.inventorylab.com

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

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