First in, first out (FIFO) accounting is an inventory accounting method that assumes the first goods that enter your inventory are the first goods to leave it. As prices fluctuate, this method gives you a consistent framework for determining the cost of both the goods you sell and the goods you still have on hand. Check out our guide to the top inventory management software solutions to get started. By using such technology, you can improve the accuracy and efficiency of your inventory management processes. Leverage inventory management software and automation tools to enhance your FIFO compliance.

  1. Tracking inventory and calculating COGS don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
  2. This step establishes a chronological order for the smartphones in the inventory.
  3. Additionally, FIFO ensures a fair and transparent approach to handling items.
  4. This way, you can avoid product spoilage or obsolescence, leading to significant waste reduction and cost savings.

While the FIFO method may not be suitable for every business, it is a widely used system for managing inventory. Under the moving average method, COGS and ending inventory value are calculated using the average inventory value per unit, taking all unit amounts and their prices into account. Using the FIFO method, the cost of goods sold (COGS) of the oldest inventory is used to determine the value of ending inventory, despite any recent changes in costs.

Arnold points out that there are sometimes good reasons to use a LIFO model for fulfillment. For example, an electronics manufacturer might want customers to get the newest version of a device, even if that means the older stock sells at a discount. In this case, giving consumers the latest products is worth forgoing higher profit.

Which Inventory Method Should You Use?

Can lead to inconsistencies in the inventory value shown on the balance sheet over time. Reflects older, potentially lower purchase prices, leading to higher COGS during inflation. The stock should be rotated periodically to keep the older inventory in the front storage area and the newer inventory behind it. Companies dealing with products that tend to become obsolete or “go out of style” relatively quickly use FIFO as a standard method. Footwear, textiles, and technology products, like mobile phones and computers, are examples that would come under this category.

Offering fresher products to your customers can have a profound impact on your sales and customer satisfaction levels. When consumers receive goods at their peak quality, they are more likely to return and recommend your business to others. Positive word-of-mouth and customer loyalty can significantly boost your revenue, creating a virtuous cycle of growth. Effective cash flow management is critical for business sustainability and growth.

These new smartphones, representing the most recent additions to the inventory, are carefully integrated into the existing stock. However, the FIFO method still applies, ensuring that the newer arrivals are placed behind the older stock. To better illustrate how the FIFO method works in practice, let’s explore a concrete example of its implementation in a retail setting. In this scenario, we’ll consider a small electronics store that uses FIFO to manage its inventory of smartphones. This article will delve into the intricacies of the FIFO method, explore its numerous advantages, and provide real-life examples of its implementation. The up-to-date valuation of inventory helps you make informed decisions about pricing, procurement, and overall financial planning, ensuring your business operates efficiently and competitively.

FIFO: What the First In, First Out Method Is and How to Use It

When in doubt, please consult your lawyer tax, or compliance professional for counsel. Sage makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or accuracy of this quebex article and related content. Using FIFO, the COGS would be $1,100 ($5 per unit for the original 100 units, plus 50 additional units bought for $12) and ending inventory value would be $240 (20 units x $24).

This will provide a more accurate analysis of how much money you’re really making with each product sold out of your inventory. Throughout the grand opening month of September, the store sells 80 of these shirts. All 80 of these shirts would have been from the first 100 lot that was purchased under the FIFO method. To calculate your ending inventory you would factor in 20 shirts at the $5 cost and 50 shirts at the $6 price.


The actual movement of goods in your business is not always as reflected in your accounting records. Let’s consider the other downsides besides the apparent disadvantages of old inventory perishing and increasing inventory storage costs. Reflects older purchase prices, leading to lower ending inventory value during inflation. The remaining stocks are 210 shirts (10 – beginning inventory & 200 – second purchase). In many cases, the goods purchased or produced first may not necessarily be sold first. Typically, recent inventory is more expensive than older inventory due to inflation.


If you have items stored in different bins — one with no lot date and one with a lot date — we will always ship the one updated with a lot date first. Following the FIFO logic, ShipBob is able to identify shelves that contain items with an expiration date first and always ship the nearest expiring lot date first. When you send us a lot item, it will not be sold with other non-lot items, or other lots of the same SKU. Compared to LIFO, FIFO is considered to be the more transparent and accurate method. However, it does make more sense for some businesses (a great example is the auto dealership industry).

The FIFO procedure is a very useful system that can help food establishments optimize food ingredients and gain maximum benefits and increase restaurant profit margin. It uses a system that prioritizes using foods with the soonest expiration or use-by dates to reduce the likelihood of food waste and spoilage that can lead to foodborne illnesses. Let’s say you’re running a medical supply business, and you’re calculating the COGS for the crutches you’ve sold in the last quarter. Looking at your purchase history, you see you’ve bought 550 new crutches during this time period, but each new order came with a different cost per item. When smartphones arrive at the electronics store, they come from various manufacturers with different production dates.

Depending on the valuation method chosen, the cost of these 10 items may be different. FIFO enhances the financial reporting accuracy by reflecting the current market prices of    goods sold. The COGS aligns with the cost of the older inventory items and better represents profitability.

It will help better accounting and a realistic picture of your business. Another critical step when implementing FiFo is to set up a system for tracking and recording inventory activities. This will give businesses an up-to-date view of their stock levels at any given time, which can help them quickly identify discrepancies and make necessary adjustments. In addition, businesses should regularly review the inventory list to determine if any products need to be restocked or removed from their shelves.