How to Calculate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Easily and Accurately
By Emil Kristensen CMO
@ Sleeknote

Knowing how to calculate cost of goods sold (COGS) is essential for any business in order to determine their profitability. This financial metric is used to track how much it costs to produce the goods a company sells within a given time frame. COGS plays a vital role in financial decision-making and analysis, as it provides a clear insight into a company’s operational efficiency and performance.

Why Calculating COGS is Important for Your Business

COGS is an essential part of a company’s income statement and helps to calculate gross profit margin. A high gross profit margin signifies that a business is producing goods effectively and efficiently. In contrast, a low gross profit margin may indicate inefficiencies in production processes, leading to losses in the longer run. Knowing the COGS of your company can help you make better financial decisions when it comes to pricing, sales, and purchases.

Moreover, calculating COGS can also help you identify areas where you can cut costs and improve your bottom line. By analyzing the cost of each component that goes into producing your product, you can determine if there are any unnecessary expenses that can be eliminated or reduced. This can lead to increased profitability and a more sustainable business model in the long term.

Understanding the Components of COGS

To calculate COGS, you must be aware of the different components that make up the total cost. COGS includes the cost of materials and labor directly involved in the production of goods. Additionally, you need to factor in any costs incurred during the process of manufacture such as freight costs, packaging, and storage fees. Knowing the components of COGS can help you better manage your business expenses.

Methods for Calculating COGS – FIFO, LIFO, and Average Cost Method

There are three main methods of calculating COGS: FIFO (First in, First Out), LIFO (Last in, First Out), and the Average Cost Method. FIFO assumes that the first goods produced are the first ones sold, and the last ones produced are sold last. LIFO, on the other hand, assumes that the most recently produced goods are sold first. The Average Cost Method calculates the average cost of all goods produced and sold. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Method

FIFO may result in higher net income during an inflationary period as older, cheaper goods are being sold. However, it may also result in higher taxes since the higher net income raises taxable income. LIFO, on the other hand, may result in lower net income, leading to lower taxes. However, it may also lead to cash flow issues, as there may be a higher cost of goods sold during inflationary periods. The average cost method provides a middle ground between FIFO and LIFO, but may not be as accurate as the other methods in specific scenarios.

How to Choose the Best Method for Your Business

The method you choose to calculate COGS depends on various factors like the nature of your business, the industry you operate in, inventory turnover, and the cost of goods. It is crucial to evaluate each method thoroughly based on your business’s unique requirements and choose the one that best suits your needs. It’s also essential to note that once you’ve started using one of these methods, it can become difficult and costly to change to another, so choose carefully.

Steps to Calculate COGS using the Chosen Method

Once you have selected a method to calculate COGS, you must determine the beginning and ending inventory levels during the period, the total cost of goods purchased, and the cost of any additional costs incurred during the production process. Subtracting the beginning inventory from the cost of goods purchased and adding the production costs will give you the cost of goods available for sale. Subtracting the ending inventory level from the cost of goods available for sale will give you the COGS for the time period.

Examples of Calculating COGS using Different Methods

Let’s say your business sells 100 identical widgets at different prices throughout the year. Your beginning inventory is 20 widgets, and your ending inventory is 30 widgets. You purchased 80 widgets throughout the year at different prices. Calculating COGS using each method would result in different costs, as each method assumes a different order for when the goods were produced and sold.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Calculating COGS

One common mistake is failing to account for all the additional costs incurred during production, such as freight, labor, and storage fees. Another mistake is failing to account for returned or damaged goods or failing to adjust inventory levels regularly. These oversights can result in an inaccurate COGS that can lead to poor financial decision-making, such as overpricing or underpricing your products.

Tips to Improve Accuracy in Calculating COGS

One way to improve accuracy is to use a reliable inventory management system, so you have a better understanding of the number of goods in stock, their cost, and their movement. Also, review your COGS regularly and adjust your methods accordingly to account for changes in the market or production processes.

How to Use COGS in Financial Analysis and Decision Making

COGS is essential for calculating gross profit, gross profit margin, and for making pricing, sales, and purchase decisions. You can also compare your COGS with previous periods to track trends, identify inefficiencies, and make necessary changes in your production processes. Using COGS in financial analysis and decision making can lead to a more accurate understanding of a company’s performance and financial health.

Tools and Resources to Help with COGS Calculation

Various accounting software and tools can help you manage your inventory and calculate COGS accurately. Some examples include QuickBooks, Xero, and Zoho Books. Additionally, you can consult with an accountant or financial expert to help you accurately calculate COGS and make the best decisions for your business.

Calculating COGS can be a daunting task, but it is essential for operating a profitable business. Follow the steps outlined above and choose a method that suits your business’s needs carefully. Accurately calculating COGS can help you make more informed decisions and ensure your business is on the path to success.