Fishbowl Inventory Imports

Importing information into Fishbowl Inventory can be tricky, but it can also be the fastest way to build a new database or update existing information en masse.  Find some helpful tips below about Fishbowl Inventory imports.


Create an entry in Fishbowl Inventory, and then export the file

Fishbowl Inventory has the option to export a blank file to use as a template when preparing your information for importing.  While this is a great option, it may be a little daunting trying to figure out what information goes into each column.  For that reason, we recommend that you create an entry (e.g. Part Number, Customer, Vendor, Pricing Rule, etc.) in Fishbowl first, and then export the related file.  Like magic, your file will have the information already filled in below the headers, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

Of course, if you still have questions, you can refer to the instructions for the related import file.  These can be found in the import wizard, after you have chosen the type of import from the list, and have advanced to the next screen.

Watch out for re-formatting

One of the difficulties of using Microsoft Excel for importing large amounts of data into Fishbowl is the fact that Excel likes to re-format certain numbers or lines of text.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you are working with UPC numbers, you will need to be very careful that Excel does not put them into scientific notation format (which it will do, by default).  If you type “123456789123” into a cell, Excel will change it to be “1.23457E+11”.  If left in that format, the UPC code will transfer into Fishbowl as the 1.23457E+11, rather than the actual UPC code.
  2. Zip codes that start with “0” (zero).  Excel likes to remove those leading zeros.  And it’s not just zip codes.  Really, any number that starts with zero can be included in this example.
  3. Text and number strings that resemble dates or months.  Something like “01OCT” will be reformatted to be “1-Oct”.

How do you fix these auto-corrections?  You will want to change the format of the cells to “Text”.  To do so, right-click on the cell, column, or row that you want to change to text, and then choose “Format Cells” from the list.  In the next screen, you will choose “Text” from the list and then click “OK”.  Now you can type your information into Excel without having to worry that it will be reformatted, and therefore imported incorrectly into Fishbowl.


Watch for misalignment

Be aware that if you delete a cell, you will need to delete the entire row.  Otherwise, your data can become misaligned.  One of the worst things that can happen is to delete a part number from a list of 10,000 part numbers, while the rest of the row is not deleted with the part number.  When that happens, your part numbers will shift up a cell, while their descriptions, Units of Measure, Tracking Fields, etc. stay behind.  If you then import the file, your parts list will have the incorrect information associated.

If all else fails, remove the line

One of the most frustrating aspects of importing information into Fishbowl Inventory is when you receive error messages after waiting for 10-15 minutes for the file to complete importing.  If you correct the error on the specified line, and then import again, only to get an error message on the same line again, it is time to remove that line and try importing again.

If you are getting error messages at least a 3rd of the way down the import file, we recommend that you create a separate import file of the lines above the error message, and import that piece.  Remember to remove those lines from the original import file so that you’re not trying to import the same information multiple times.  This will help cut down on the wait time and will help you narrow down the issues.

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you have about Fishbowl Inventory imports, or anything else Fishbowl Inventory-related.

Setting up a New Fishbowl Inventory Database

Setting up a new database in Fishbowl Inventory can be a big task.  In our last post, we discussed the options available to you when setting up a Fishbowl database.  For some of you brave souls out there, one of the options was to do the setup on your own.  Our hope is that this post will help you with the database portion of your Fishbowl Inventory implementation.

Database Creation

Create a New Database

When Fishbowl is first installed on your server computer, an example database is included with the installation.  You will need to create a new database into which you will begin setting up your information.  Visit Fishbowl Inventory’s wiki page for step-by-step instructions on creating a new database.

Input Your Data

Once you have created your database, you need to then add data to your database.  This comes in the form of Customers, Vendors, Parts, Products, Bills of Materials, Inventory, etc.  This must be done in an orderly fashion, which we will explain in next week’s post.  For now, be aware that this is the most time-consuming, and probably the most difficult, portion of your Fishbowl Inventory Implementation.

Set up Your Integrations

Fishbowl Inventory can be a stand-alone software.  However, there are many other pieces of software that can be integrated with Fishbowl Inventory to make your life easier.  Some examples include QuickBooks (which is the most common integration, and the reason Fishbowl is such a popular inventory solution for QuickBooks users), UPS Worldship, FedEx Shipstation, LilyPad products, etc.  Some of these integrations come in the form of standard Fishbowl Inventory plugins.  Others, such as custom shopping cart integrations, take longer to program, and will require installation by the developers.  In either case, these integrations can impact your business in a way that will improve your efficiency and accuracy.

Fishbowl Inventory Implementation: Go it Alone? Or Get Help?

Implementing new software into your company can be challenging, to say the least.  Fishbowl Inventory implementation is no different.  Whether you are dealing with long lists of part numbers, or you’re trying to convince the warehouse team that the new system will work better than the old, you’re in for a challenge.  Here are some tips to help you navigate the rough waters of implementation.

  1. Use all of your resources.  You don’t have to do this alone.  There are people around who can help you.  This includes the excellent trainers in the Fishbowl Inventory support team, expert consultants who have implemented Fishbowl Inventory for many years, and even your co-workers.
  2. Make sure you understand the data manipulation.  Here are a few ways to enter information into your new Fishbowl database:

    Type it in Manually
    In other words, you can go straight into the user interface of Fishbowl Inventory, and type in every part number, every customer, and every vendor.  As you can surmise, this method can be tedious and time-consuming.

    Pull the Information From QuickBooks
    If your previous inventory management software was QuickBooks, you can   The advantage to this method is that it is incredibly fast to set up a Fishbowl database this way.  The disadvantage is that if your QuickBooks data is not accurate, neither will the information that comes into Fishbowl be accurate.Use .csv Import Files
    Fishbowl Inventory has the capability of bringing in large amounts of information through a .csv import.  This includes your parts, products, customers, vendors, bills of materials, etc.  Once you have mastered the art of using import files, the setup of your Fishbowl Inventory database can be completed quickly.  Or, better yet, find someone else who has mastered using import files and let them handle it for you.
  3. Stay the course.  Setting up a new database can be a daunting task, at best.  There are many things that need to be taken into consideration, and there are many moving pieces.  When at all possible, Fishbowl Inventory Consulting with an expert can save you a lot of time and headache.
  4. Don’t be afraid to start over.  There may be a time when you have to realize that the only way to move forward is to start over again.  Don’t despair!  You have already overcome much of the learning curve, and a fresh beginning may be just what you need to finalize your database.  Try to keep up your momentum and push through to the end.

If all else fails, remember that there are experts out there who can set up your database, train your employees, and make sure your company is on track for the transition to Fishbowl Inventory.

LilyPad Commerce–Empowering Small and Medium Businesses

If you run a small- or medium-sized business, you know how important it is to stay competitive.  However, sometimes the thought of taking your products to the Online world can seem daunting.  Luckily, the folks at Sharpe Concepts–the makers of LilyPad products–have come up with a solution to get you Online without having to pay the costs of a custom website, and without all of the fuss.

Commerce Home Page

Introducing LilyPad Commerce

LilyPad Commerce connects directly to your Fishbowl Inventory server and pulls all of your products, categories, prices, images, etc. into an eCommerce platform that will get you selling online within minutes, instead of months.  So, not only do you get a fully-functional eCommerce site quickly and easily, it’s also a fraction of the cost of a custom website.

As soon as an order is placed in LilyPad Commerce, the information is sent directly to your Fishbowl database and is ready for you to begin processing.  Of course, credit card payments will also be processed and will hit your account within moments, giving you the freedom to worry about other things, such as growing your business.

Don’t forget that LilyPad Commerce scales to fit the smallest, or largest, of screens.  Quick and easy navigation will allow your customers to create and place orders within minutes…and best of all, LilyPad Commerce never sleeps.

Amazing features of LilyPad Commerce

Check out this list of features that will give you the Online edge you’ve been looking for:

List of amazing features in LilyPad Commerce

As always, feel free to contact us with your questions and to learn more about our other LilyPad products.


Introducing LilyPad Service Manager

Dispatch, Schedule, and Invoice service customers directly from your Fishbowl Inventory software with
LilyPad Service Manager

 Image of multiple devices used for LilyPad Service Manager
With LilyPad Service Manager:
  • Schedule service appointments
  • Add labor charges, inventory, and time to service calls
  • Accept immediate payments
  • Capture approval signatures
  • Create the service ticket automatically as a Fishbowl sales order
Your Remote Technicians Can:
  • See their schedule remotely
  • Pull up addresses, service history, and existing equipment at site
  • Document activities completed and parts used
  • Schedule follow-up calls
  • Accept payments
  • See inventory availability across locations
Easy-to-use features:
  • Drag-and-drop calendar scheduling
  • Linked directly to Google Maps
  • Runs on computers, tablets, or phones
  • Integrates with remote printers

Contact us for more information, or to schedule a demo!

Introducing LilyPad Vortex

Vortex Home with discounts

LilyPad Vortex is the first Fishbowl add-on sales software built specifically for small and medium-sized B2B companies, their customers, and their sales team. A one-stop resource for today’s sales process at a price that fits your budget.

As a Fishbowl User:

  • Instantly create a fully-functioning customer portal to expand your sales to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Allow outside salespeople to place orders directly into Fishbowl
  • Put your business on your customers’ phone, tablet, laptop and desktop for ease of order placement


  • Perfect for Route Sales, Trade Shows, or 3PL applications
  • Users log in and see their specific Pricing from your Fishbowl Pricing Rules
  • Allow users to shop by category–controlled directly from your Fishbowl Product Tree
  • Create “Punch Out” sites where users see only the Products or Categories you want them to see
  • Highlight “Featured” or “Sale” products
  • Process payments directly for Customers without Terms

Contact us for more information, or to schedule a demo!

Maximizing Your Fishbowl Investment with LilyPad and Janam

Fishbowl Inventory gives you the power to control your inventory.  LilyPad takes that inventory control to the next level by giving you mobile access to your Fishbowl data.  Coupled with leading-edge mobile technology from Janam, the power to control your inventory is now in the palm of your hand.

Rewriting the Rules

Initiating a new inventory management solution can be a daunting task.  Janam and Sharpe Concepts make it easier by teaming up to provide a complete solution.  Gone are the days when you need to search for multiple vendors to complete a single project.  Our collaborative efforts enable you to get the software and hardware you need to implement your solution as quickly and as easily as possible.

Janam Rugged Mobile Computers with LilyPad

LilyPad for Fishbowl enables small- and medium-sized inventory-based businesses to work smarter.  Providing the greatest flexibility and functionality to maximize and enhance your Fishbowl investment, LilyPad utilizes barcode scanning technology to perform a variety of inventory management activities.  Coupled with Janam’s industry-leading XG3 and XT2 rugged mobile computers, LilyPad provides a more accurate and efficient way to control your inventory.

Sharpe Concepts Adding Value

Sharpe Concepts has implementation options for every budget.  The simplest plans include Remote Assistance and Coaching options, where we build your system, deploy the software, and train your staff remotely on your schedule.  On the other end of the spectrum are full onsite engagements where we will be at your business to ensure the hardware and software meet and exceed expectations.  We can design a project that meets any budget and delivers real results.

Janam Mobile Devices

XT2 Highlights

  • Lightest and most rugged device in its class
  • Android OS
  • 5-inch touch screen with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity
  • Integrated 1D/2D barcode scanning; Optional trigger handle for scan-intensive environments

XG3 Highlights

  • Lightest Industrial-grade mobile computer in its class
  • Android OS
  • Largest standard battery capacity in the industry
  • UL-certified for hazardous environments
  • Optional extended-range barcode scanning, from 5 inches to 50 feet


Fishbowl Products–Selling Your Parts in Fishbowl

This is the second post about how to differentiate between Fishbowl Parts and Products…and some details about each.  In this post, we will discover how a Product is used, and maybe you’ll even find out some things that you didn’t know about your own products.


What is a Product?

In Fishbowl, a Product is anything that you sell…so, if you put it on a Sales Order, it is considered a Product.  Period.  Yes, even samples are considered Products.

What Are the Different Types of Products, and What Can You do With Them?

Although there are many types of Parts in Fishbowl (as discussed in our last blog post), you can only associate products with the following types of parts: Inventory, Service, Non-Inventory, and Shipping.  This makes sense, if you think about it.  You wouldn’t be selling Overhead, Internal Use parts, or Labor (at least, not directly).


Part and Product Association

As we mentioned in our last blog post, you can associate multiple Products with one Part.  This is important in many industries when you want to use the same inventory, but sell it to your customers with different names, or in different Unit Of Measure quantities.  For example, let’s say that you sell Part A to Customer 1 as Product X, but to Customer 2, you sell that same Part as Product Y.  You want to pull from the same pool of inventory, but you want your customers to see different things when they purchase your products.  That is why you can associate multiple Products with one Part.  Are you confused yet?

Another great thing to know about Products is the Kitting feature.  A Kit is really just a group of Products that are sold together as a package deal.  This is different than manufacturing, because you do not build a Kit and stock it on your shelves.  In this case, the Kit is placed on a Sales Order, and each of the Products would be picked individually from your shelves after the order has been entered.  If you are interested in creating Kits, you can do so in the Product Module (just use the little black arrow next to “New”).

We hope this information has helped clear up some of the confusion about Parts vs. Products in Fishbowl.  As always, you are welcome to let us know if you need more explanation on this topic.

Fishbowl Parts vs. Products

In this series, we will explore the differences between a part and a product in Fishbowl Inventory.  If you are new to Fishbowl, sometimes this can be a confusing concept, especially if you are coming from QuickBooks, which only uses “Items”.  In this post, let’s talk about how Fishbowl treats Parts.

PartsWhat is a Part?

In Fishbowl, Parts are anything that can be purchased, consumed, transferred, picked, manufactured, cycled, scrapped, etc.  In other words, a Part is what you use in your everyday business.  The only thing you cannot do with a Part, in Fishbowl, is sell it.  Selling is reserved for your Products.  We will talk more about products in our next post.

What Are the Different Types of Parts, and What Can You Do With Them?

  • Inventory.  Inventory-type parts are the most common for most businesses…for obvious reasons.  Inventory-type parts can be purchased, received, tracked (e.g. serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates), consumed during manufacturing, created from manufacturing activities, and inventoried.
  • Non-Inventory, Service, Internal Use, Capital Equipment, and Shipping.  All of these part types can be purchased,received, consumed during manufacturing, and created from manufacturing activities (though this may not be wise, from an accounting standpoint).  These parts cannot be tracked by Serial Number, Lot Number, Expiration Date, etc.  They also cannot be inventoried.
  • Labor and Overhead.  The only use for Labor- and Overhead-type parts is in the Manufacturing module.  These parts cannot be purchased, nor can they be received.  However, they can be consumed or created during the manufacturing process.

Part and Product Association

One last thing to remember about Fishbowl Parts:

You can have multiple Products associated with one Part, but you cannot have multiple Parts associated with one Product.  Just let that sink in for a minute.

LilyPad: Giving the Gift of Mobility

LilyPad MobileNews Flash!  LilyPad Mobile Sales and LilyPad Mobile Warehouse make Fishbowl extremely more flexible and accessible.  Okay, maybe that’s not news, but let’s see why they’re so helpful…then, let’s see what people are saying about them.

More Cool LilyPad Features

We’ve already talked about some of the features of LilyPad in our previous blog posts (here and here), but our customers are also raving about these features:

  • Accepting and saving signatures
  • 2D barcode creation and scanning
  • Cycle counting by location
  • Being able to email reports from LilyPad
  • The option to upload your personal Logo, so your customers feel right at home when logging into your company interface.
  • And so much more…

The Word on the Street

These are some of our favorite things that our customers are saying about us:

“I believe that LilyPad is an excellent add-on value to Fishbowl and I strongly recommend for companies like mine to use since the benefits and cost savings are great.”


“…Your immediate actions speaks volumes to which we are deeply grateful and will never forget. We look forward to a smooth running system for years to come, and we are blessed to have a team as dedicated as yours, to helping not only our business, but the businesses of others.”


“Sharpe Concepts has been extremely responsive to our needs. They have worked with us to enhance the LilyPad interface to be a robust system that checks and controls many things that were not originally in the interface. They are fast, reasonably priced and extremely knowledgeable in all parts of the systems.”


“…I would strongly recommend your services to other companies…”

Don’t let everyone else have all the fun!  Check out LilyPad to discover for yourself what everyone is talking about.