QuickBooks 2014 Advanced Pricing is a new subscription-based option that Intuit is introducing this year – it is a VERY interesting feature that offers many additional options for creating rules that will alter the sales price for specific situations. There is a lot here that people have been asking for.
Pricing of items you sell is a simple thing, right? You have an item, it has a selling price, and if someone wants to buy that item then that selling price is what they pay. Simple!
Unfortunately, for many businesses it isn’t that simple. You might want to sell the item to some classes of customers at a different price. You might want to give someone a reduced price if they buy a large quantity of the item. You might have a special sale price for a period of time. Pricing can be VERY complicated in many businesses.
We’ve had Price Levels for quite some time now – a way for you to specify a different price for an item than the “base” price listed in the item record. This lets you set a discount price, or perhaps a special price list, that you can apply to certain customers (or select at the time of sale). This is nice, but it isn’t very flexible and doesn’t cover all of the options that many people ask for.
So, Intuit is introducing Advanced Pricing as an optional feature with Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise 14.0, a feature that provides MANY new options. Now you have Price Rules, which replaces Price Levels, and you can set Quantity Pricing.
Quantity Breaks: You can specify a special price for an item based on the quantity that you sell. This has been a feature that MANY businesses have asked for.
Complex Price Rules: You can create complex price rules that have:
- Conditions – set multiple criteria that need to be met before a special price is applied.
- Date Ranges – you can set a beginning and/or ending date for a special price.
- Price Overrides – set custom prices for specific items that are exceptions to a rule
- Exclusive Rule – price rules can be set to be exclusive, so that they cannot be combined with other rules.
I’m very excited by the possibilities here, but there are some issues that I have with they way that this is being offered. Advanced Pricing is only available with Enterprise for an additional subscription fee.
DISCLAIMER: In my testing I did find a number of problems with some aspects of Advanced Pricing. HOWEVER, please note that I was only able to test this with an earlier beta-test copy. The final “release candidate” copy of the program didn’t allow me to use Advanced Pricing because of issues with licensing. SO, some of the problems I discuss may have already been resolved by the time you read this.
QuickBooks 2014 Advanced Pricing Availability
Before we dive into WHAT this does, let’s talk about how it is being packaged. This is going to be an added-cost subscription feature available only to Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise users, similar to what Intuit has done with Advanced Inventory. I believe (this might change) that the cost to use this feature will be $399 a year. I believe you will also have to have a current Full Service Plan as well. That is unfortunate, because I think that this is a feature that many businesses could use but many won’t want to subscribe to at that cost. I guess the good news is that they didn’t roll this into the higher priced Advanced Inventory feature for those who just want Advanced Pricing.
What’s worse, QuickBooks ProAdvisors won’t get this for free unless they are Enterprise Certified. Wow – that is a change in policy! First time I’ve seen an Enterprise Certification needed to get access to a feature like this. Fortunately, if you are working with Enterprise clients and you need access to this, getting Enterprise certification isn’t that complicated and doesn’t cost you anything but time.
According to Kim Amsbaugh from Intuit:
(This feature is) “considered advanced for our Enterprise customers and therefore we wanted to make it available for free to those ProAdvisors who have taken the time to become certified in Enterprise. To be certified in Enterprise, a ProAdvisors does not have to take the certification every year. Their certification, once taken and passed, remains with them throughout their ProAdvisor membership and does not expire or require a new certification exam to be taken within the context of a more current product. “
Note that initially even Enterprise Certified ProAdvisors won’t be able to see this feature – Intuit has to go through their database and activate the feature for each individual ProAdvisor. That might not occur until the end of September.
We’ve had Price Levels for awhile now, where you can either set a special price for a given item or an overall discount for all items. It is a fairly simple feature, useful, but I find that in many businesses you can’t get the price structure that you want.
Now, with Advanced Pricing, we have a MUCH more flexible feature, Price Rules. Note that Price Rules REPLACE Price Levels.
Once you enable this feature (as I’ll show later in this article) you will find Price Rule List in the Lists menu. Here’s what you see if you create a new price rule:
QuickBooks 2014 Advanced Pricing Price Rules
If you look at the basics here, you see that you have pretty much what you had with price levels, but there is a LOT more.
The basic features, like we had in price levels, are:
- Set the price to be: (3) Similar to the Fixed % price level, although with more options. You can alter the price by a percentage or an amount higher or lower than the base price – with an added option of using cost as a base.
- Price Overrides: (lower right corner) This is similar to the Per Item price level, where you can set a specific “custom price” for specific items. Here’s what you see when you click the Price Overrides button:
The real power of price rules comes from the date range and conditions. These allow you greater control over when a price rule will apply.
Click on the blue + in the Conditions section and you can add multiple conditions.
First you will select the object to work with. You can base the condition on items, customers or sales reps.
Next you will choose a field to supply a value to test:
- For Items you can select item name, item type or preferred vendor.
- For customers you can select custom fields, customer name, customer type or job type.
- For sales rep you can select a specific sales rep from the sales rep list.
If the field you select is a simple list, like item type or customer type, you will be given an option to select a single entry from the list:
If the field is a major list like customer name, you will have a button to click to open a window that lets you select multiple entries from that list:
You can add multiple conditions easily. Here, for example, the price rule will apply only to the customer I selected from the list AND if the item has the specified preferred vendor.
This is a VERY useful feature – the ability to set a beginning and/or ending date range. For example, this price rule will only apply during the month of August 2013 (for my selected customer and specified items):
Let’s Try It!
OK, I have several price rules set up, let’s see how this works. Here’s a product, with a sales price of $2,000.00:
I’m going to sell this item to “Doug Sleeter”, on 8/16/2013. Note that the price is $1,710.00. Do you see the “Z” icon next to the price?
Click on that “Z” icon to see WHY this price was calculated:
In this window you see:
- The base price.
- The total adjustments applied.
- Each rule that was applied (note that TWO rules were used).
I have my August sales price for Doug Sleeter purchasing Nikon products, and an additional discount that applies to any customer with a customer type of Wholesale. You have the option of overriding this by unselecting any of the rules in this window.
Only those rules that can apply will be shown. A rule that won’t apply due to the date range, for example, won’t show in this window. Good!
If we check the Exclusive Rule box in either of those rules, then only the exclusive rule will be selected. You can click on the Z icon to open the applied price rules window, but you can’t check another rule and save the setting. As you can see below, I tried to select two conflicting rules manually, and QuickBooks won’t let me.
If you happen to have two or more price rules that SHOULD apply, but more than one is marked as exclusive, the Z icon is replaced by a warning, and no rule is applied.
I find that these little icons are too small for the important information that they contain. Visibility of things like this is an issue, and if you have someone who is running the program on a smaller screen, or who has poor eyesight, these icons are just not decipherable. Intuit should change this to make it more obvious, at least if there is a conflict. Why not highlight the field in red, for example? In addition to the icon, since some people can’t differentiate red from other colors.
Another nice feature here – if you create an invoice with a certain date, so that a price rule applies due to the rule’s date range, and then (before leaving the invoice) you change the invoice date so that the rule doesn’t apply, you are warned that this affects the items.
Of course, in QuickBooks, you can edit just about anything. So, even though a price rule is applied, you can just type in whatever price you want, overriding the rules. So the rules aren’t “iron-clad”. If you do override the price this way then the rules are un-checked in the applied price rules window.
Interestingly, if you save this invoice (using rules) and come back later, and then look at the applied price rules, you will see which ones were applied but you cannot change the selection of rules. You can only look at what was applied.
As I understand it there is a limit of 10,000 price rules at this time. That should be more than enough. Note that if you change a price rule that will NOT affect existing sales transactions.
Quantity Discount is the ability to have your price altered based on the quantity of the item being sold. This is a feature that many people have been asking for.
Sometimes I’ll refer to this as quantity breaks.
After you enable Advanced Pricing (I’ll talk about that below), you will see that there is a Qty Discount button when you edit an item. This is available for service, inventory part, inventory assembly and non-inventory part items.
That button opens a window that allows you to set the price for various quantities of this item.
There is some wasted space here – “Cost” and “Sales Price” don’t have to show as a column since they are the same for each line.
For the first two levels I entered discount % and QuickBooks calculates the price, markup and margin. In the third level (“30”) I entered a margin of 85% and saved the record. When I came back I see that the margin drifted a bit to 85.01% – that is a fluke of how the margin calculations work, as I’ve described in another article in more detail.
So, let’s see this in action. Here’s an invoice. It ALMOST works – the prices are set based on the quantity but there is a rounding issue with one of them. It’s that darn quantity level where I altered the margin and it stored an odd value. There should be some way to control “rounding” here.
Things get complicated when you start mixing different pricing structures with one item. For example, what if I have a price rule that gives me a discount off the “base price”, AND you have quantity breaks? Does one take precedence over the other? Should they combine? Some quick testing shows me that:
- If you have a price rule and a quantity break, they will be combined.
- A quantity break sets the “base price” for the item, and a price rule will make an adjustment to that new “base price”.
- A price rule that is based on “cost” might not combine with a quantity break the way you would expect (still trying to figure that one out, it is complicated).
- If you set a price rule to be “Exclusive” that won’t exclude quantity breaks.
Enabling QuickBooks 2014 Advanced Pricing
You’ll find this option in your Sales & Customers preferences. The Custom Pricing section controls what pricing scheme you are going to us. This might be a bit confusing at first, aren’t we looking for “Advanced Pricing”? Well, that is just one variation of “Custom Pricing”. The category of “Custom Pricing” incorporates “Price Levels” (the feature we’ve had for a number of years) as well as “Price Rules”.
So, with this new Custom Pricing preference, we can turn off all custom pricing, enable Price Levels, or add Advanced Price Rules, which is the new Advanced Pricing feature.
Here’s what you will see for this preference initially:
After you purchase your subscription to Advanced Pricing, you will see these additional options:
Your rounding options are to not round at all, allow the price rule to control rounding, or to set the standard rounding here (with the same kinds of options you had with Price Level rounding).
Note that you cannot have both “price levels” and “price rules” enabled at the same time. This isn’t a problem, as price rules can do all that price levels did before.
After enabling Advanced Pricing you can find the Price Rule List in the List menu (replacing Price Level List).
Converting Price Levels
If you have price levels set up in your file, when you enable advanced pricing the program will convert your price levels to price rules. I’ve only tested this in some simple cases, and so far everything seems to work fine.
Here’s some examples. First, a fixed % price level in my 2013 file.
Here is the converted price rule. As you can see, it brought over all of the features of the old price level. In the conditions section you’ll note that it says that this applies to “multiple” customers – during the conversion the program went through my customer list and added any customers that had this price level selected in the payment settings tab.
One caution – the date range is set to start today – so this price rule won’t be invoked if you are entering invoices with an older date. You can change that starting date, and in most cases I recommend setting that to an older date. “Price levels” didn’t have a starting date.
Here’s that price level converted to a price rule:
Now, let’s take a look at a per item price level. Here’s my price level before conversion:
After conversion, you get this price rule. Again, it looks like it converted very well. The customers using the price level have been added to the conditions, and the specific custom prices have been added as price overrides.
Clicking on price overrides we see the custom price list:
From what I can see, price levels convert very nicely to price rules.
What Happens if you Turn It Off?
From what I can see, QuickBooks handles this pretty well.
- Any price rule that was originally a price level will go back to being a price rule with the old features. If you added any new conditions that were not a part of the price level feature, those are just ignored. This seems to work well.
- Any price rule that was created from scratch will NOT be converted to a price level.
So, essentially, if you convert from price rules back to price levels you will have just those price levels that you had to start with, if any.
AND, if you AGAIN turn on price rules, it looks like those rules that you had added before are still there.
There are a number of reports that relate to Advanced Pricing.
Price Rules by Customer: You’ll find this in the Reports button at the bottom of the Price Rule List window, or under Reports / Customers & Receivables. One of the neat things about this report is that it is date sensitive. If a rule doesn’t apply for this customer on the date you select, it won’t show.
Show Price Rules by Item: OK, not officially a report, it is a query screen (no “print” button). From the Inventory Center click the Show Price Rules link to see the price rules for this particular item. Unfortunately, you can’t see this for service or non-inventory part items, since those don’t show in the Inventory Center.
There MUST be more reports for price rules but I’ve not found them. Let me know if there is one I overlooked. I’m sure that Intuit will be adding more. We definitely need a price rules by item report (not just the display), one that can see ALL item types that can have price rules.
Is This Ready For Prime Time?
Well, no, the version that I am playing with isn’t ready for prime time. However, as I said in the beginning of this article, what I’m showing you here is from an earlier beta test copy, NOT the final public release, so some of these issues could already be addressed.
Having said that, I still recommend caution. Pricing issues like this can be very complicated, and we’ve seen times in the past where pricing and cost update features took awhile to work themselves into a trustable status. I think it would be wise to wait for a revision or two before you jump on this bandwagon.
- If I set my margin to be 85%, I want that to BE the margin if my costs change later. Adjusting that to 85.01%, for example, might not give me the pricing I want.
- Prices set by this feature are NOT rounded based on the rounding rules I can set in the Advanced Pricing preferences. If I choose to “use the same rounding across all price rules” I would expect that this should work here as well.
- I wish there was a way to easily copy the break levels between items. I would like to have my 10/20/30 breaks copied over to all of my other inventory parts, for example. This is a common feature in quantity break calculations in some systems, and it can be a real time saver.
- There are other rounding issues.
- See the invoice screen above, and how the price didn’t round properly in one case.
- Look at the screen shot of the quantity discount window above, where you see the markup values (for example, 567.0%). If I edit the cost value by editing it, the quantity discount prices change (which is appropriate), but the markup value isn’t being rounded properly.
Again I’m seeing a few rounding issues. Here’s an example where there is a 5% discount off of $2,000.00:
Another problem: If I create an invoice using a price rule, then save it, and come back later, as I mentioned earlier you cannot change the selection of price rules. HOWEVER, if you EDIT the price and click the Z icon, the window shows that the rule was applied, BUT the amount is your updated price, not the one from the rule. In this case, the rules should NOT be checked.
And, in that same scenario, if I use the new “copy line” and “paste line” feature and make a copy of that same line, the copied line will have the same problem. The copied line won’t act like a NEW line.
As I mentioned before, Intuit should change the “Z” icon in the invoice price field to make it more obvious, at least if there is a conflict. Why not highlight the field in red, for example? In addition to the icon, since some people can’t differentiate red from other colors.
These are early-version issues, not surprising because this is a VERY complicated feature. These will get worked out (if they aren’t already), but that is why I recommend waiting a bit before committing to this feature.