Yes. QuickBooks Desktop with hosting and QuickBooks Online make your accounting and inventory data 24/7 available over the Internet, from any device. This said, you are not tied to the office.
In a nutshell, hosted QuickBooks Desktop is a way of delivering the functionality of Intuit’s desktop accounting system in the cloud to clients with licensed copies of QuickBooks Desktop. Intuit-authorized hosting providers install these copies on their servers and provide 24/7 availability to clients for a fee.
QuickBooks Online is a ‘genuinely’ online accounting system accessed through your local server and made available to anyone on the team (per your permissions) or outside the team (a third-party accountant), anytime, anywhere.
How do I decide which QuickBooks version can better handle my inventory?
For starters, you need to consider the factor of accessibility of inventory data for team members.
An inventory business owner willing to purchase QuickBooks Online would be looking at is the ‘Plus’ plan because any versions lower than that do not cover inventory at all. The ‘Plus’ option allows access to 5 users including a third-party accounting specialist, if any.
You can access the hosted Desktop via a virtual desktop and a web browser and make the data available to as many as from 3 to 30 (you will not need that many, unless you are an SME rather than a small company) people, based on the license version (Pro, Premier, Enterprise).
Once you are clear on the access options, go straight to analyzing your inventory needs.
Do I need a third-party inventory control app?
Are you a small company just starting out and managing a single location with inventory? If so, most likely your inventory tasks are basic and can be handled by QuickBooks alone. The Online version with its ‘Plus’ plan will enable you to track inventory by item, set low stock alerts, create Purchase Orders, Invoices, keep an eye on selling trends and taxes. What it does not have is Sales Orders, multi-location tracking, availability to promise calculations and a few more advanced things like barcoding, and serial/lot number tracking.
QuickBooks Online has a well-developed and continuously growing eco-system of apps that follow QuickBooks’ functionality but make sure to extend its inventory block with their more advanced inventory tracking features. The HandiFox Online inventory management app is a third-party system with a seamless two-way QuickBooks integration. HandiFox brings some key features to the party:
Barcoding - create, assign, print, or scan barcodes for a quicker data entry
Track and transfer inventory across multiple locations
Create Sales Orders and Invoices
Do picking and packing
Edit inventory data in offline mode and sync updates with QuickBooks Online when back to online
If you are a small or medium sized business with complex inventory needs, QuickBooks Desktop versions in the cloud might happen to be the right fit from the very start. Tracking, receiving inventory against Purchase orders, creating Sales Orders, Units of Measure, Barcoding, Multi-location Tracking, Building Assemblies, Serial/ Lot Number tracking (the last five are available if the “Advanced Inventory” solution is turned on) - the hosted Desktop covers it all.
As far as integrations with third-party apps go, QuickBooks Desktop in the Cloud has fewer options to offer. Still a lot of QuickBooks hosting companies partner up with third-party inventory system vendors to bundle the accounting software with their apps in order to bring even more value to their customers. HandiFox Desktop (and yes, there is also a desktop version) can be hosted alongside with QuickBooks Desktop and the pair of them works great together.
If you use the hosted Pro, Premier or Enterprise with the Advanced Inventory option ‘off’, HandiFox will get you the ability to make use of Barcoding, Multi-location tracking, Picking and Packing and a few more.
Your warehouse and office will have HandiFox on their mobile devices and be able to instantly send updates back to QuickBooks desktop without leaving operations (do inventory counting, stock transfers, you name it) - your accounting + inventory management system literally becomes mobile-friendly and cloud-based.
A quick summary
If your inventory business has just been started, try QuickBooks Online. If you find its inventory tracking insufficient, turn to an app specifically focused on inventory control that integrates with this accounting software.
If you are running a geographically distributed inventory-centric business QuickBooks Desktop with hosting can be really worth your attention, especially when coupled with a third-party inventory and sales management app. It is probably the strongest combination, featurewise.