Gross Margin: Explained

What is it, how to calculate it, formula, why it's important

As the CFO of my company, I'm always looking for ways to improve our financial performance. One of the metrics that I pay particular attention to is gross margin. In this article, I'm going to explain what gross margin is, why it's important, and how you can improve it for your own business.

What is Gross Margin?

Gross margin is a financial ratio that measures the profitability of a company's sales after deducting the cost of goods sold (COGS). In other words, it tells you how much money is left over from your sales revenue after accounting for the cost of the products or services you sold. This money can then be used to cover your other expenses, such as rent, salaries, and marketing costs.

Gross margin is usually expressed as a percentage, and it's calculated by subtracting the COGS from the sales revenue, and then dividing that number by the sales revenue. For example, if you had $100,000 in sales and $70,000 in COGS, your gross margin would be 30% ($30,000 divided by $100,000).

Why is Gross Margin Important?

Gross margin is an essential metric for any business because it tells you how effectively you're managing your costs. If your gross margin is high, it means that your business is generating more profit from each sale, which is good news for your bottom line. Conversely, if your gross margin is low, it means that your costs are eating into your profits, and you may need to make some changes to improve your profitability.

Another reason why gross margin is important is that it can help you identify potential problems in your business. For example, if your gross margin is decreasing over time, it could be a sign that your costs are increasing faster than your sales. This could indicate that you need to renegotiate your supplier contracts or find ways to reduce your overhead costs.

Finally, gross margin is an important metric for investors and lenders because it gives them an idea of how profitable your business is. A high gross margin indicates that you have good control over your costs and are generating strong profits, which can make your business a more attractive investment opportunity.

How Can You Improve Your Gross Margin?

Now that you understand what gross margin is and why it's important, let's look at some ways you can improve it for your business:

1. Focus on Increasing Your Sales Volume

One of the most effective ways to improve your gross margin is to increase your sales volume. By selling more products or services, you can spread your fixed costs across a larger number of units, which can help reduce your overall COGS per unit. This, in turn, increases your gross margin and profitability.

To increase your sales volume, you may need to focus on marketing and sales activities, such as advertising, promotions, and pricing strategies. You may also need to expand your product lines or target new customer segments to drive more sales.

2. Negotiate Better Supplier Contracts

The cost of goods sold is a significant factor in determining your gross margin, so it's essential to find ways to lower your COGS. One way to do this is to negotiate better supplier contracts. By working with your suppliers to secure better pricing or terms, you can reduce your COGS, and this can help improve your gross margin.

To negotiate better supplier contracts, you may need to shop around for different suppliers, leverage your purchasing power, or build stronger relationships with your existing suppliers. You may also need to consider outsourcing or offshoring some of your production activities to reduce your labor or material costs.

3. Reduce Your Overhead Costs

In addition to your COGS, you also need to keep an eye on your overhead costs, such as rent, salaries, and marketing expenses. These costs can eat into your profits, and if they're too high, they can reduce your gross margin.

To reduce your overhead costs, you may need to look for ways to streamline your operations, automate your processes, or outsource some of your non-core activities. You may also need to consider changing your pricing structure or reducing your marketing budget to free up more cash flow for your business.

4. Improve Your Inventory Management

Your inventory can also have a significant impact on your gross margin. If you have too much inventory, you may end up with excess costs, such as storage fees or shrinkage. On the other hand, if you have too little inventory, you may miss out on sales opportunities and damage your reputation with customers.

To improve your inventory management, you may need to invest in better forecasting tools, implement just-in-time inventory systems, or work with third-party logistics providers to optimize your supply chain. You may also need to consider implementing inventory tracking and management software to help you keep track of your stock levels and sales trends.


Gross margin is a vital metric for any business because it tells you how effectively you're managing your costs and generating profits. By focusing on strategies to increase your sales volume, negotiate better supplier contracts, reduce your overhead costs, and improve your inventory management, you can improve your gross margin and drive your business forward. So, get started today and see how much you can improve your bottom line!

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