Your small business accounting needs are unique, so why not build your own solution to check the most important financial boxes? Zoho provides a huge range of software solutions for business management, from CRM systems to fully developed accounting platforms.
Today we’re diving into the powerful Zoho Books accounting software and all of the related features within the Zoho Suite.
What is Zoho Books?
Zoho Books is the cloud based accounting software component of the greater Zoho suite. Zoho Books uses accrual and cash-basis accounting to make business finances easy to manage for small businesses up to mid-sized companies.
Zoho features more than 40 different applications for businesses. While most Zoho products are enterprise level, Zoho Books is the accounting solution catered towards small businesses and can be outgrown when your executive and finance teams grow beyond the 10 users provided.
Zoho Books is closely modeled after QuickBooks with similar cloud-based accounting software features, but offers the wider base of a larger Zoho suite, as well as increased customizations and flair for a lower price.
Zoho Books Pricing
5 automated workflows
10 automated workflows
All Basic features
All Standard features
Customized URL & portal
Zoho Books pros and cons
|Easy to use||Transaction cap of 5,000|
|Visual dashboard display||No budgeting|
|Helpful analytics||No fixed asset management|
|24/7 customer support (phone, chat, email)||Steep learning curve|
|CRM integrations||Limited storage|
|Automatic invoicing||Payroll is an add-on, no integrations available|
|Great for service businesses||Poor migration|
Zoho Books has taken great strides in recent years to improve some of the weaker and oft-maligned features, making their product much stronger. There are several options and tiers within Zoho Books depending on your size and needs, which we’ll cover next.
Zoho Books products & plans
The price positioning of Zoho Books is cheaper than QuickBooks and FreshBooks, with some increased complexity and fewer integrations, but more expensive than free options like Wave while offering much more functionality. Zoho Books offers a discount of two free months if you pay for a full year up front.
The basic plan starts at $9/month. With this plan you get unlimited invoicing, estimates, expense tracking, access to basic reports, five automated workflows, one user, one accountant access, and up to 50 client contacts.
Zoho Books Standard plan is $19/month and increases your billable contacts to 500, offers the Accounts Payable functionality, gives you an additional user and five more automated workflows than the Basic plan.
This is the most functional plan and starts at $29/month. The Professional plan allows you to create sales orders, purchase orders, custom domains, and more. The high-powered inventory management is only available in this tier, as is the vendor portal. At $29 it’s still more affordable than the comparable QuickBooks Plus ($70/month) and QuickBooks Advanced ($150/month) and offers most of the same features.
One benefit of Zoho Books is that the Zoho suite offers a wide range of products and features so it’s easy to customize exactly what your business needs. It can get expensive to add on services, but if it allows you to create the exact fit—it may be worth your budget.
Popular premium add-ons include:
- Additional users are $2/month
- Mailing services for checks, contracts, and other documents start at $2/domestic and $4/international (but delivery speed is a negative factor)
- Autoscans for receipts, invoices, and other documents are $5/month for 50 scans per month
- Payroll can be added for $19/month for three employees and $2/additional employee
- Zoho Finance Suite: For $149/month you get the most commonly used suite of Zoho products, which includes Zoho Books, Invoice, Inventory, Subscriptions, Expenses, and Checkout. While expensive, it’s more affordable than each of the individual pieces used separately, even if you don’t need or fully utilize each of the platforms.
Zoho Books features
Zoho Books offers a strong invoicing feature, with high levels of customization, useful templates, automations, encryption, and deposit capabilities. You can also create estimates that can seamlessly transfer to custom invoices or projects for added functionality. Once sent, your invoice can also remind clients of unpaid balances and allow for fast and easy online payment with credit card or ACH through the Zoho product payment gateway. Recurring invoice features and saved payment details make ongoing client relationships even easier.
Zoho Books possibly has the greatest international accounting features, including fluid currency and localized editions that are catered to your particular business location while allowing you to do business across the globe. Sales tax can be easily assigned to customers and updates with your local rates, which is particularly helpful for recurring invoices.
You can add Zoho Subscription to manage your recurring invoice and ongoing customer needs. You can get 20 subscriptions for free, then scale your payment plan for more customers, more users, and increased workflows.
Zoho Books online accounting software allows you to manage your business expenses with purchase orders that convert to bills in just a click, recurring bill setup, and even vendor credit for returns. Sales orders, purchase orders, and custom invoices can help you manage procurement and payments for your business in a click. The automated workflow for expense tracking allows you to monitor and categorize your financial transactions, while your balance sheets stay up-to-date.
For product sales, it’s hard to beat Zoho Books inventory tracking, which allows you to organize your inventory with great levels of detail. You can set your reorder thresholds, and even automate so that purchase orders are sent to your vendors when you dip below your required level of inventory. Inventory is always up-to-date, and you can create reports on your inventory status with a click.
A more advanced option is Zoho Inventory, which is free for up to 25 online and 25 offline orders per month, and 50 shipping fulfillments from one warehouse. You can upgrade to the $49/month Basic plan, which gives you 1500 transactions and more automations, users, and warehouses.
Save time and frustration by letting Zoho Books automatically import and categorize your transactions by linking your bank account and PayPal. Automations and bulk actions make bank reconciliation rapid and effective. The banking dashboard allows you to see your finances at a glance and use visual reports to predict cash flow.
*Note: Zoho Books uses Yodlee to import live bank feeds and may violate the Terms and Conditions you’ve accepted with your bank. Check with your banking institution to see if Zoho Books can access your banking before making the switch.
Time tracking is especially important for small businesses, who may need to track various contractors and the hours spent on clients for accurate billing and planning. Use the timer widget, Zoho Books mobile app, or log hours daily or weekly in the cloud software. Beyond time tracking, you can also use Zoho Books to manage projects. Collaborate across teams, assign tasks, and bill expenses directly from your project dashboard. The only real drawback is that all time needs to be connected to a specified project to be tracked.
One of the most-praised aspects of Zoho Books’ platform is the contact portal. Customers, vendors, and contractors can be carefully managed and accessed in this portal, allowing you to collaborate quickly. You can also securely store payment details for future and recurring transactions.
The client portal allows for clients to view estimates, invoices, project details, and other communications at a glance. Most importantly they can comment or pay directly in the portal. You’ll get notifications when clients view or pay invoices, and you can even elicit reviews or testimonials.
Small businesses crave performance data that can inform their decisions. Zoho Books can create over 50 reports with your data to streamline frequent accounting tasks. Your dashboard will immediately present relevant financial data in a helpful visual way, and you can generate any other reports you need. Basic reports like profit & loss, balance sheet, cash flow can be automated to run and automatically land in your email at whatever frequency you prefer.
Tax liability reports make tax season easier, and custom tags allow you to create specialized reports for sales or audits with whatever data you need. If you need further complexity in your reporting you can upgrade by adding Zoho Analytics starting at $22/month.
Zoho Books’ mobile apps are positively reviewed (4.7/5 stars) on the App Store and Google Play. If you do a lot of business on the go, Zoho Books offers much more in the way of mobile functionality. The Zoho Books Online Accounting application allows for:
- Creating and sending invoices
- Recording expenses
- Accountant access
- Quick business insights
- Multiple currencies
Because Zoho Books is cloud-based accounting software, you can subscribe straight from your device and always have access to most of the software functionality—even without a computer. There are still issues, but the accounting app is in constant development and improving rapidly.
Common Zoho Books FAQs
Is Zoho Books free?
Zoho Books does not offer a free version, but you can start with a free two week trial. You can also qualify for two months free if you pay annually upfront.
Which is better, Zoho or QuickBooks?
If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t need payroll services, then Zoho Books is the obvious winner. When you get into the higher tiers the products are pretty comparable, and even then the payroll add-on is cheaper with Zoho than QuickBooks. However, QuickBooks offers far more integrations and is easier to use.
According to Capterra, Zoho Books wins the battle of customer support and price, but QuickBooks offers more in the way of features and functionality. Reviewers on G2 like Zoho Books better for everything except payroll.
How does Zoho Books accounting software compare to Xero?
Both accounting software platforms start at $9/month. Zoho Books has an overall better rating on Capterra, as well as better customer service, and ease of use. Xero, however, offers payroll, unlimited users, and better tax support than Zoho Books. Xero gets more expensive as it scales, but the lower tiers are very similar.
How much does Zoho Books cost?
Zoho Books Basic starts at $9/month, with an intermediate tier at $19/month, and the premium tier at $29/month.
Does Zoho Books do payroll?
Zoho Books does not include payroll services, but you can add them with Zoho Payroll for $19 + $2/employee per month.
Is Zoho Books easy to use?
General consensus is that it takes work to get Zoho Books up and running, from migrating your information from QuickBooks or another accounting platform to learning how to use each of the features. Zoho Books does offer strong customer support via phone, email, live chat, and a wide range of articles, videos, and weekly webinars.
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