How to Calculate Profit Margin - Everything You Need to Know

How to Calculate Profit Margin: Everything You Need to Know

I believe it’s accurate enough to say that the ultimate goal of every business in existence is to maximize its profits.

The question is: how?

Cost of Goods for WooCommerce

Revenue is one important metric to consider when you’re trying to maximize your profits, The amount of sales is also another important metric, yet a slight switch in your profit margins can make all the difference between a poor-performing business and a rising star.

And that’s what we’ll be discussing today.

Types of Profit Margins

Profit margins are financial metrics used to evaluate a company’s ability to generate earnings relative to its revenue, sales, or costs over a certain period. They represent what percentage of sales has turned into profits. Here’s an explanation of each type:

Gross Profit Margin (GPM):


GPM = ((Net Sales – COGS) / Net Sales) * 100

This is the simplest profitability metric, which measures the financial health of a company at a basic level. It considers the cost of goods sold (COGS), which are the direct costs attributable to the production of the goods sold by a company. 

This includes the cost of the materials and labor directly used to create the product. It does not include indirect expenses, such as distribution costs and sales force costs. The gross profit margin reflects the efficiency with which a company uses its labor and supplies in the production process.

Operating Profit Margin (OPM):


OPM = (Operating Income / Revenue) * 100

This margin is a slightly more complex metric because it takes into account all operating expenses necessary to run the company. Operating income, also known as operating profit, includes both COGS and operating expenses such as salaries, rent, and utilities but excludes taxes and interest payments. It gives a clearer picture of the company’s operational efficiency and profitability by considering the costs of running the business, beyond just producing goods.

Net Profit Margin (NPM):


NPM = (Net Income / Revenue) * 100

This is the most comprehensive profitability metric, reflecting a company’s overall ability to turn income into profit. Net profit margin takes all business activities into account, including operating costs, interest, taxes, and other expenses. 

It is a key indicator of the company’s overall financial health and includes every aspect of a business’s costs.

Net income is the actual profit after all expenses, taxes, and costs have been subtracted from total revenue.

Each of these profit margins provides insight at a different level of the company’s finances, from the most basic level of selling goods (gross profit) to the final profitability after all expenses (net profit). Managers and investors often look at all three to get a complete picture of a company’s financial performance.

What Is a Good Profit Margin?

When discussing profitability, one of the most frequent questions posed by business owners, investors, and analysts alike is: “What is a good profit margin?” The answer is not straightforward and depends on several factors, including the company’s industry, scale, and market conditions.

Industry Standards

Profit margins can vary significantly from one industry to another. Certain industries, such as software and pharmaceuticals, generally have higher profit margins due to lower costs of goods sold and high-value products. Conversely, the retail industry often operates on lower margins due to higher costs and competitive pricing.

Comparability Between Sectors

It is also important to note that profit margins are not necessarily comparable between different sectors. A high-profit margin in a capital-intensive industry like heavy machinery might be the norm, while the same margin in a labor-intensive industry like hospitality might be exceptionally good.

Profit Margin Benchmarks

Despite the variability, some general benchmarks can guide our understanding of what constitutes a ‘good’ profit margin:

  • A profit margin of 20% is often considered a sign of a profitable company that is managing its resources well.
  • A profit margin of 10% is perceived as average, indicating that the company is doing well enough to sustain its operations and potentially grow.
  • However, a profit margin of 5% or lower may be cause for concern, as it suggests the company has little room for error and could be at risk if revenues decline or costs increase.

Case Studies and Examples

In-depth analyses by educational institutions provide insight into these benchmarks. For example, a study by New York University assessed a broad range of industries and found net profit margins ranging anywhere from approximately -29% to as high as 33%. These numbers highlight the vast differences in profitability across sectors. For instance:

  • The hotel sector was observed to have an average net profit margin of -28.56%, which could be attributed to high operational costs and significant investments in property and equipment.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, banks in the money center were reported to have an average net profit margin of 32.61%, demonstrating the potential for high profitability in the financial sector.

A ‘good’ profit margin is relative and should be assessed in the context of industry norms, economic conditions, and company size. While the above-mentioned figures provide a general guideline, each company should be evaluated on its own merits, and comparisons should be made with caution, considering the diversity of operational models and market dynamics.

How to Calculate Profit Margin in WooCommerce

Calculating profit margin accurately is essential for any business, including those operating on the WooCommerce platform. Understanding your profit margins can help you make informed decisions about pricing, sales strategies, and cost control. Here’s a step-by-step guide and some considerations for calculating profit margins in WooCommerce.

Steps to Calculate Profit Margin Manually

  1. Choose the Timeframe for Profit Tracking: Decide on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis to evaluate your profit margins, which will guide your sales and expense calculations.
  2. Calculate Your Business’s Total Product or Service Sales: Sum up all revenue generated from sales within the chosen timeframe.
  3. Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This includes all the direct costs associated with the production and delivery of your goods sold.
  4. Calculate Your Gross WooCommerce Profit Margin: Deduct COGS from your total sales to determine the gross profit margin for your WooCommerce store.
  5. Calculate Your Expenses: Include all operational expenses such as marketing, hosting, plugins, staff salaries, and more.
  6. Calculate Your Net Profit Margin: Subtract your total expenses from the gross profit margin to determine your net profit margin.
  7. Become Familiar with Metrics: Understand and regularly monitor key financial metrics to maintain a clear picture of your business’s financial health.

Advantages of Manual Calculation

  • Entirely Cost-Free: Manual calculations don’t require any additional investment in software or apps.
  • Templates and E-commerce Profit Calculators: There are free templates and e-commerce profit calculators available that can simplify the process.

Disadvantages of Manual Calculation

  • Time-Consuming: As your business grows, manual calculations can become more complicated and take more time.
  • Risk of Errors: Manual calculations have a higher risk of human error, which can lead to inaccurate profit margin analysis.
  • Difficulty in Tracking: It’s easy to lose track of profits and expenses, especially when dealing with a large volume of transactions.

Automated Calculation Using WooCommerce Plugins

  • Advantages:
    • Automated: Plugins can automate the calculation process, reducing the time and effort required.
    • Cost-Effective: Some plugins might offer additional features that make them a cost-effective solution compared to hiring a dedicated resource.
    • Time-Saving: Automation saves a significant amount of time, allowing you to focus on other business development activities.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Third-Party Access: Using plugins often means that a third party may have access to your business’s financial metrics, which could raise privacy and security concerns.

Recommended Tools

  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): Cost & Profit Calculator for WooCommerce by WPFactory: a comprehensive plugin designed to simplify the management of costs and profitability for WooCommerce stores. It provides an intuitive interface to accurately track and calculate the cost of goods sold, encompassing all direct expenses related to product sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery. By delivering real-time insights into your COGS, this plugin helps in determining the true profitability of each product, enabling informed pricing strategies and financial decision-making
    Cost of Goods for WooCommerce

How to Improve Your Profit Margin

Once you’ve calculated your profit margins, the next step is to improve them. A higher profit margin indicates a more profitable business that is better at converting sales into actual profit. Here are strategic ways to enhance your profit margins:

Track Income and Expenses

A meticulous approach to financial tracking is vital. By using detailed bookkeeping and financial analysis, you can identify which areas of your business are most and least profitable. This knowledge allows you to focus on profitable products or services and cut back on those that are less profitable.

Buy in Bulk

Purchasing inventory in bulk can often lead to significant discounts from suppliers. Lower purchase costs directly improve your gross profit margin. However, be cautious to avoid overstocking, which can lead to increased holding costs and potential waste if products expire or become obsolete.

Increase Efficiency

Efficiency in operations can be improved through better training, upgrading to more efficient machinery, streamlining logistics, or adopting software solutions that speed up workflow. By reducing labor costs and waste, you can lower your COGS without sacrificing quality.

Prioritize Customer Retention

Acquiring new customers is usually more expensive than retaining existing ones. By focusing on customer satisfaction and retention, you can secure a steady flow of income from repeat sales without the additional costs of marketing and customer acquisition. Loyal customers may also buy more over time and can become advocates for your brand.

Know What Sells

Analyze your sales data to understand which products are your best sellers and which have the highest profit margins. Concentrate on promoting and developing these successful products. Sometimes, a small number of products can make up the majority of profits, so it’s important to identify and capitalize on these ‘cash cows.’

Improving profit margins is not just about increasing prices or cutting costs; it’s about making strategic decisions that enhance the value proposition to your customers while optimizing your internal processes. Regularly reviewing and managing these aspects of your business can lead to sustainable growth and profitability.


Profits are the reason businesses exist, setting realistic profit margins that achieve maximum profitability while retaining good relationships with your customers and suppliers is a goal worth pursuing.

There’s no specific profit margin for all industries as it differs by industry and by sector, but an average of 10% probably means you are doing okay.

Make sure to use professional plugins to keep track of your store profitability and to easily calculate the Cost of Goods Sold and other metrics important for calculating profit.


Best 65+ Plugins WPFactory

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