Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Bradford Toney
Updated At


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What is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)?

The Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is a vital term in the world of business finance, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It refers to the direct costs associated with the production of goods sold by a company. This may include the cost of materials, labor costs directly tied to product creation, and any manufacturing overhead that can be directly attributed to the production process.

To break it down:

  1. Materials: This includes raw materials used in the production of goods. For instance, if a company manufactures wooden furniture, the cost of wood would be part of COGS.
  2. Labor Costs: These are the wages paid to workers directly involved in manufacturing the product. For example, the salaries of assembly line workers in a factory would be part of COGS.
  3. Manufacturing Overhead: These are indirect costs that support the production process, such as utilities, maintenance, and factory rent.

COGS does not include indirect expenses such as sales and distribution costs or office expenses.

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Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) vs. Operating Expenses

There's often confusion between COGS and operating expenses, but they are not the same. While COGS refers to the direct costs of producing goods intended for sale, operating expenses are the costs associated with running the business, outside of direct production costs. These might include marketing expenses, rent for office space, administrative costs, and more.

In other words, COGS is tied directly to the production of goods sold, while operating expenses are the costs to run the business, regardless of specific production output.

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How to Calculate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Calculating COGS involves adding the cost of inventory at the beginning of the period to any purchases made during that period, then subtracting the cost of inventory at the end of the period.

Here's the formula:

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases During the Period - Ending Inventory

Let's break it down:

  1. Beginning Inventory: This is the value of all the goods that a company has in stock at the start of the accounting period.
  2. Purchases During the Period: These are all the additional goods that were bought during the accounting period.
  3. Ending Inventory: This is the value of the remaining inventory at the end of the accounting period.

The result is the cost of goods sold during that period.

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Why is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Important?

Understanding the Cost of Goods Sold is crucial for a few reasons:

  1. Profit Calculation: COGS is a key component in calculating gross profit, which is a company's revenue minus its COGS. The lower the COGS, the higher the gross profit.
  2. Pricing Strategies: Knowing the COGS can help businesses set competitive pricing strategies. If the COGS is high, a business may need to increase its prices to maintain profitability.
  3. Inventory Management: Tracking COGS can aid in effective inventory management. It can help businesses identify if product costs are rising, which may indicate a need to find new suppliers or more cost-effective production methods.
  4. Tax Deductions: COGS is deductible from revenue on a company's tax returns, reducing the total taxable income and potentially saving the business money.

In a nutshell, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the total direct cost of producing the goods a company sells, including material, labor, and manufacturing overhead costs. It's different from operating expenses, which are the costs of running the business outside of direct production. Calculating COGS involves considering beginning inventory, purchases, and ending inventory. Understanding COGS is crucial for calculating profit, setting pricing strategies, managing inventory, and claiming tax deductions.

  • Fernando, J. (2024a, January 25). Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) explained with methods to calculate it. Investopedia.
  • Kenton, W. (2022, March 11). What are direct costs? Definition, examples, and types. Investopedia.
  • Bloomenthal, A. (2022, April 2). How operating expenses and cost of goods sold differ? Investopedia.
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