software review -

Craftybase Review: Inventory Software for Crafters

I no longer use Craftybase. It is a very nice tool, but it is a bit more robust than my simple shop needs. I'm going to stick to my spreadsheets for my inventory and other needs (for now).  I've removed my referral link from the review, but feel free to still read the review and use Craftybase if your business fits!

As a small business owner still in the early stages of my business, I have been searching for ways to streamline my bookkeeping from the start. This way I'm not having to do a mass overhaul later when I have more data than I want to deal with. At only two weeks in, I'm already keeping track of dozens of tiny materials in relatively large quantities. Things could get overwhelming, fast!

So far, I have just been using spreadsheets (yay for Google docs!) for my inventory and pricing as well as all expenses tracking. It works, but it is tedious pricing cost for new items by manually setting up formulas to add all my materials together for each item. Being relatively tech-saavy, I knew there had to be a better way to keep track of everything. I have seen advertisements for small business inventory management software solutions, but nothing really stood out as friendly to the handmade crafter to me. Until I found Craftybase.

Craftybase Review

Craftybase is an inventory and business management software solution for crafters.

After a few cursory Google and Etsy forum searches, I found several mentions of Craftybase and have been eyeing it for several days. I took a peek around the site and their blog, paying close attention to the fact that the blog is regularly updated within the past few weeks and that updates seem to be happening to the software.

What finally won me over was the 14-day free trial that they offer on new accounts with no payment details required and a 10% off referral link I found on another crafting blog. I really didn't have anything to lose, so...referral link clicked and trial began!

Craftybase Review - Account Plan Types

Craftybase offers two types of account plans: one for hobbyists (Hobby) for $7.99 a month and another for professional crafters (Pro) for $12.99 a month. The differences in the two plans are based on sales tracking or not. With the Pro account, you can get help generating sales prices, manage customers and invoices, manage product inventory levels as well as materials, and produce reports such as cashflow and stock levels. You can even automatically import from Etsy, which I found very handy.

If you are more of a hobbyist and don't really need to worry about sales, the Hobby plan is good for you. It keeps track of your supply vendors and materials inventory as well as your tools and equipment.

I opted for the Pro account, as I'm a small crafting business, and I wanted to see how the reporting, expenses, and product management features worked.

Craftybase Review - Setup

The first thing I noticed about the software was the ease of initial setup. I simply set up my account with my business name and email, made a quick and easy import from my Etsy shop, and I was up and running.

The short tutorial gives some basic definitions of terms used throughout the Craftybase system, including "Batch Recipe" and "Make Log". I must admit, in my anxiousness to delve into the program, I barely skimmed these tutorials, but there are plenty of help boxes and links on each page for a refresher on how stuff works.

Craftybase Review - Materials and Expenses

When I say the initial setup was easy, I mean just that. However, it did take quite a while for me to input all of my materials into the software. I opted to input materials as Expenses, under the Expenses tab, as a help box suggested. This way, the costs including shipping and tax are easily accounted for on each material.

Craftybase Review: Add Expense

So I got to work inputting all of my startup expenses into Craftybase, which was easy because I had my expenses already itemized in my spreadsheets and receipts. When adding a new expense, you have the option to choose from an already saved Vendor or adding a new one. I selected to add a new one for all of my expenses, and simply put in the vendor name and web address for each one. You can optionally add addresses, contact emails and phone numbers, as well as notes, for each of your vendors. I can see how handy that would be down the road. This information populates the vendors in your Contacts tab, which is organized alphabetically by vendor and customer name.

Craftybase Review: Add Vendor

After adding the vendor, you then add items to each expense. All of this is done in an easy to read popup with handy tooltips and help text for fields you might not know the purpose of. Items range in category from Materials, Office Expenses, Tools and Equipment, and more. With Materials, you have the option, similar to Vendors, to add a new material to the database, which I did for each new material. Item properties like unit type (item, inches, feet, etc) can be set here, as well as the threshhold for when the item shows up as "low stock". You also add the quantity you purchased as well as the price for items. Craftybase automatically calculates price per individual unit for you.

I love that you can add images for the materials. This makes quickly finding materials and differentiating between similar materials a breeze.

Once all items have been added to the expense listing, you can then add tax and shipping, as well as mark the expense as Paid or Received.

It took me a while to enter all my expenses, but in the process I was also populating the Vendor and Materials databases. As far as initial setups go, while it did take a while, it will pay off in the long run. My favorite vendors and common materials are already there, and I can simply begin typing their name in the fields and it automatically makes suggestions for what I want. I can then just click the entry I want and it puts it in the field for me.

All of this was leading up to exploration of the Projects tab!

Craftybase Review - Projects

The real value of Craftybase is in the Projects system. Projects is how Craftybase groups together all the orders, purchases, and manufactures (or item creation) for each product that is sold in the business. There are two types of Projects: Components and Products. Components are just that, something that you create that is then later used in a finished product. Products are your finished products that you are selling in your store. When I imported from Etsy, my Projects tab was automatically populated with all of my Etsy listings as Product projects, complete with images, price, and sales records.

The first thing I did was run through all of my products (41 as of when I went through the system), and create Batch Recipes for each one. A Batch Recipe is just a list of all the materials required for each project to be created. My items, barring completely custom pieces, are simple in their material requirements, so this was easy. I simply clicked Add Material in the Product Batch Recipe section, selected one of my already imputed materials, and saved.

Craftybase Review: Project

Once I had finished doing this, I could now setup my product stock. Product Stock is managed through Manufactures. On each Project details page, there is a Manufactures tab. You can go here and Add a Manufacture. This is simply a log of whenever you craft an item. You can put when you made the items, how many items you made, how long it took you (if you track labor time and cost), and the total material and labor cost. When you add a manufacture to a project, your stock is automatically increased by however many items you made AND your material stock is automatically decreased depending on the Batch Recipe for that project and any additional materials you might have added during the manufacture. Quite a fun system!

Craftybase Review: Manufacture

I went through again and added manufactures for my initial stock plus all of my normal and custom orders. This automatically updated my stock levels and reconciled those few cases of being negative in stock due to orders imported from Etsy.

I do enjoy the Projects section, and after initial setup, I think it can be a great tool for recording both my time and inventory levels. After I spend some time crafting, I just add manufactures to each project I worked on, and voila! I have more stock!

Craftybase Review - Material Inventory

In addition to adding materials through the Expenses tab, you can add them directly to the Materials tab. I did this for a few items that I had in my personal stash before starting the business. A feature I do like is that for each individual material, you can manually adjust your inventory to account for wastage, damages, etc. Simply click on the material listing, go to the Inventory tab, and click Add Inventory Adjustment in the top right. I've had a few "oopsies" on some items, and wasn't sure how to record them. Now I know!

Craftybase Review - Orders and Reports

Since I'm just starting out, my Orders and Reports sections are pretty bare bones. Etsy does automatically import orders for you, though I haven't determined if it's always automatic after the initial one. Either way, it's a simple matter to click Import Data in the top right of the page and do another scan of Etsy for new items. I didn't see any problems with duplicate entries, so that system is sound.

There are several reports you can create, including Big Picture reports like Cashflow and Expenses, Customer Activity (to see best customers), Product Activity (to see best sellers), and Stock Reorder (to see what you're low or out of at a glance).

Craftybase Review - General Interface

I quite enjoy the user interface for Craftybase. It is bright, easy to read, and help links are intuitively placed as needed. There is a filter selection on the right side of the screen for most pages, where you can filter the results tables by categories and other qualities.

Craftybase Review - Support

I haven't had to use the support system yet myself, as most of the software has been self-explanatory. What I needed any help on, I found in the easy to find help topics on the site.

Craftybase Review: Support

There is a visible link for contacting support on each page, however, that leads to a contact form page. The page also includes a time widget that lets you know in your local time what time it is where the software developers are (London). This is handy for those on the other side of the world who might get frustrated on not having an instant reply when in fact it's 3am where the dev team is.

Craftybase Review - Price

I admit, I am still very small in my business scale, to the point where adding new monthly expenses is something I don't take very lightly, even when it is less than $20. However, after fiddling with my own spreadsheets to mixed results, I find a lot of value in an easy to use, affordable solution to my inventory and tracking needs.

Craftybase seems quite affordable, with the Pro plan being only $12.99. I do have the initial 10% discount so there is that. Their referral program also allows account holders to potentially receive a free account depending on the amount of paying referrals they bring in.

I'm going to continue to play around with it for the remainder of my 14-day free trial, but I will mostly likely be subscribing to Craftybase when the trial is up.

Craftybase Review - Multiple Shops

It looks like you can import multiple shops from Etsy and manage them with Craftybase. I do know when you create a new expense, there is a drop down menu at the bottom of the page to choose the shop the expense is associated with.

This could be interesting for those managing multiple shops.

Craftybase Review - Wrap Up

Overall, I recommend Craftybase for inventory management for handmade and crafting small businesses. There are other inventory solutions out there, but not all of them are catered to crafters. Craftybase knows their customers' needs and seeks to provide the best software to satisfy those needs.

The price is reasonable, and you get a quality product, with seemingly diligent developers who are open to customer feedback.

I really like the projects system for tracking my crafting time, products, and material usage. It may take you some time, like I did, to input all of your notions, or jewelry findings, or candle and scent making supplies, but it is worth it in the end, in my opinion.

The ease and intuitiveness of setup and easy import from Etsy really sold me on the product.

I'm not sure about using Craftybase for your entire business management solution, but for handmade and crafting inventory, it really does the job well.

If you are interested in trying Craftybase, go to www.Craftybase.com.


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