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Updated Apr 10, 2024

Zoho Books Review and Pricing

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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Editors Score:9.1/10
Zoho Books is our choice for the best accounting software for automation. Its built-in automation tools eliminate tedious, error-prone tasks to streamline operations. Additionally, the software includes its own scripting language to code custom functions.
Thumbs Up Pros
  • Zoho’s ability to automate financial functions is almost unparalleled among the accounting software products we reviewed.
  • Tech-savvy business owners will love that the software includes its own scripting language to code custom functions.
Thumbs Down Cons
  • Zoho requires coding abilities to make the most of its automation features, which may be challenging for business owners who aren’t tech-savvy.
  • The cap on the number of monthly transactions and users may dissuade high-volume, employee-heavy businesses from using the software.
Zoho Books logo
Editor's Rating9.1/10

Small business accounting tasks can be tedious, time-consuming and error-prone. Thankfully, Zoho Books makes your company’s finances easier to manage by automating processes and helping business owners develop custom functions using a unique scripting language. You can use the platform’s scheduled reminders and additional notifications to reduce errors and stop financial items from slipping through the cracks. For these reasons, Zoho Books is our choice for the best accounting software for automating processes.

Zoho Books Editor's Rating:

9.1 / 10

Payments
9/10
Automatic invoicing
8.8/10
Third-party integrations
8.5/10
Mobile app
9/10
24/7 customer service
10/10

Why We Chose Zoho Books as the Best for Automating Processes

Small business owners often wear many hats. They usually aren’t accountants or bookkeepers, but they often play that role regardless. They must issue invoices, send reminders for those invoices, make payments, and track expenses and projects. For business owners who want to offload time-consuming financial tracking tasks, particularly those related to accounting, Zoho Books is worth considering. 

We found that the strength of Zoho’s accounting software lies in its ability to automate tedious, error-prone accounting tasks. Unlike many competing accounting software products we reviewed, Zoho features a dedicated automation component packed with valuable tools, including the ability to set rules to automate workflow. We were also impressed that you can program email alerts, send automated invoice reminders and set up in-app notifications to ensure you don’t forget critical tasks. 

More tech-savvy business owners can even build custom tools using Zoho’s proprietary coding language. For these reasons and more, Zoho Books is our best pick for businesses in search of accounting software with automated processes. 

FYIDid you know
Some of the best point-of-sale (POS) systems integrate with top accounting software, which allows your business to easily track relevant data on both platforms.

Zoho Books finances

Zoho Books makes it easy to manage your business finances in one place, as shown in this screenshot from our demo. Source: Zoho

Pros

  • Zoho Books’ ability to automate financial functions is almost unparalleled among the accounting software products we reviewed. 
  • Tech-savvy business owners will love that the program has its own scripting language to code custom functions. 

Cons

  • Zoho Books requires users to have coding abilities to make the most of its automation features, which may be challenging for business owners who aren’t tech-savvy.
  • The cap on the number of monthly transactions and users may dissuade high-volume, employee-heavy businesses from using the software. 

Ease of Use

During our test of Zoho Books, we paid particular attention to the ease of use. We like that Zoho keeps the interface minimalistic and uncluttered. A toolbar on the left side houses the software’s primary features, and each has a drop-down menu of additional tools. The main dashboard is attractive and displays essential business statistics, such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and cash flow. Based on our experience, users won’t have any trouble navigating Zoho’s intuitive interface and figuring out how to perform essential tasks. 

That said, things can be trickier beyond the main dashboard. Zoho allows users to drill down into their financial data and automate tedious tasks — a significant strength over alternative programs. However, we found that there’s a learning curve for performing more advanced automations. Zoho also features its own scripting language that will likely delight tech-minded users but may discourage less-tech-savvy ones. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Zoho Books is an excellent QuickBooks alternative because of its tax support, bank reconciliation, contact management and estimate tools.

Zoho Books interface

Zoho Books has a modern and clean user interface. Source: Zoho

Zoho Books Features

During our search for the best accounting software for small businesses, we tested Zoho Books’ main features firsthand. This solution shines thanks to its must-have accounting software features coupled with automation tools. Here’s an overview of some of Zoho’s most notable capabilities, especially those designed to automate processes. 

Payment Reminders

During our testing, we found that Zoho makes it easy and convenient to automate payment email reminders and create multiple messages that go out at different times. For example, you can create a payment reminder email and set it to be sent a week before the invoice is due, again on the due date and once more a week after the due date if you haven’t yet received payment.

If you connect your account to one of the best credit card processors, you can accept invoice payments online. Compatible payment gateways include PayPal, Braintree, Stripe and Square. Learn more about these options in our review of Stripe and our Square review.

Zoho Books custom workflowsZoho Books lets you create custom workflows. Source: Zoho

Automated Report Generation

One cool feature we really liked from our test run is the ability to schedule reports to be automatically generated weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually and emailed to you in the format of your choice (PDF, CSV or XLS). You can also set up the software to automatically email you a weekly report with an overview of your business’s performance. This report includes summaries of your income and expenses, cash flow, top expenses and active projects. More than 40 standard reports are built into the software, including general ledger reports, profit and loss statements, sales by item, time sheet details, accounts receivable aging and aged payables.

TipBottom line
Using accounting software is one of the best tax tips we can recommend. Excellent accounting software like Zoho Books can help you track key data, such as profits and losses, to simplify tax filing.

Custom Functions

Another part of our demo that really stood out was Zoho’s ability to create customized automation tools. Tech-savvy business owners might appreciate Zoho’s ability to code custom functions with the program’s scripting language. We also like that Zoho’s coders can help less-tech-inclined business owners build what they need to automate additional functions. During our test of the software, we saw firsthand how small businesses can leverage Zoho’s scripting language, called Deluge, to create custom solutions. Of all the accounting software we reviewed, the only other service that allows extensive customization is Sage Business Cloud Accounting. [See our Sage accounting software review.]

Zoho Books scripting language

Zoho Books has its own scripting language that allows you to create custom automations. Source: Zoho

Mobile App

Not every accounting vendor we reviewed provides a mobile app. We liked that not only does Zoho Books have a mobile app, but it’s available for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. You can use the app to create invoices, run reports, capture receipts, record expenses and track billable time no matter where you are. Users rate Zoho’s app highly; it has a score of 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store and a 4.6 out of 5 in the Google Play store. 

Client Portal

We were impressed by Zoho’s client portal, which makes it easy for your customers to view their invoices and pay their bills online. You can also use the portal to send estimates and chat with clients within the program. Zoho even alerts you when a customer views an estimate or invoice, accepts or declines an estimate, or makes a payment.

Invoicing 

Another key feature we tried is Zoho’s invoicing tool. We appreciate that Zoho lets you create projects, set tasks, track the time you spend on them, and invoice customers for billable time. The client-approval feature also lets customers approve time sheets before you bill them. The software even allows you to track and invoice billable expenses — a feature not all competitors offer. 

During our testing of Zoho, we went through the process of creating an invoice. We like that the template gallery has extensive invoice customization options, more than most competitors. You can choose from 16 templates, several languages and multiple fonts to create custom professional invoices. You can also add your logo or brand image and a background image. Finally, you can customize the colors for the background, accents, your company’s name, the customer’s name and the rest of the text on the page. Other document types, such as estimates and payment receipts, are also customizable.

Zoho does a good job of letting you customize the look and feel of your invoices. However, we found the invoice-customization tool a bit less intuitive than those of some competitors we reviewed — something less-tech-savvy users should consider. In our view, FreshBooks offers better invoicing capabilities. 

TipBottom line
Check out our review of FreshBooks to learn about accounting software that offers more user-friendly invoice customization.

Inventory Tracking

Although inventory-tracking tools are available only on Zoho’s Professional plan and above, we found them helpful during our test run of the software. Zoho shows you the available quantity when you enter an item on an invoice. If you enter a higher number than the amount of stock you have on hand, the number turns red. We also liked that you can set up the system to automatically email you a notification when the inventory drops below a specific number. 

If your inventory needs are more advanced — for instance, if you need to bundle items — you can add the Zoho Inventory app to the accounting program for an additional cost. Businesses that carry many items or customized products or have more complex inventory needs might want to read our review of Xero, which recently beefed up its inventory automation features. 

Integrations

We like that Zoho Books integrates with other Zoho systems and several third-party programs, including payment gateways, tax programs and Zapier, which allows you to connect to hundreds of additional apps. Check out our review of Zoho CRM to learn about another Zoho program that can work with Zoho Books.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
If your company's IT department needs a remote-access and unattended-support solution, read our review of Zoho Assist. This software helps IT departments troubleshoot internal computers and assist remote customer support agents.

Audit Trail

One particularly helpful feature we noted during our testing was Zoho’s audit trail. When you view a transaction, Zoho’s audit trail shows you when the transaction was created, if it was converted to or from another transaction type, and if the transaction has been updated, sent or paid. It notes the name of the user who made edits, along with the date and time of those edits, and allows you to add comments to the transaction. This is ideal for businesses that have multiple people tracking company finances.

Zoho Books Pricing

Beyond the time-saving automation tools, Zoho Books stands out for its overall affordability, especially considering its many desirable features. There are five paid plans, plus a basic free version for very small businesses. The free version further distinguishes Zoho from its rivals, as most don’t offer free software.

However, Zoho’s paid tiers do run a bit more expensive than other accounting software we reviewed, such as Xero and Sage. You can add a few optional features to your account for an extra fee, which obviously raises the cost as well. 

Zoho gives you the option of a month-to-month contract or an annual plan. Monthly prices are shown below, but Zoho offers a hefty discount if you pay for the entire year upfront.

  • Free plan: This option is available for businesses with less than $50,000 in annual revenue. It supports one user and one accountant and includes a fairly robust set of features, including 1,000 annual invoices, recurring invoices, automatic payment reminders and email-only support.
  • Standard plan: The first paid level costs $20 per month and allows up to three users: you, your accountant and another user. You can manage up to 5,000 invoices and use the software to create invoices and projects, track expenses and reconcile business bank accounts. This package includes mile tracking, recurring invoicing and automatic bank feeds.
  • Professional plan: This plan costs $50 per month and allows five users. In addition to the features in the Standard package, it comes with purchase-ordering and inventory-tracking tools, the ability to create sales orders, and support for multiple currencies.
  • Premium plan: This tier costs $70 per month and supports 10 users. You get everything in the two other paid plans, as well as your own custom domain, access to a vendor portal, and integrations with Zoho Sign and Twilio.
  • Elite plan: The Elite package costs $150 per month and supports 10 users. In addition to everything in the Premium plan, you can generate unlimited custom reports, access advanced inventory management features and handle multiple currencies.
  • Ultimate plan: The most inclusive plan costs $275 per month and supports up to 15 users and 25 custom modules. This is Zoho’s highest-tier offering and includes advanced data analytics on top of everything in the Elite package. 

Additional users cost $3 per month for all plans. Another Zoho add-on service, called Autoscans, costs $10 per month for 50 scans. When you upload documents, such as vendor invoices or receipts, this feature automatically scans them and extracts the data to create new transactions, saving you the time of manually creating them. This is yet another reason Zoho is ideal for business owners who prioritize automation.

Implementation and Onboarding

We like that Zoho Books offers two ways to test-drive its services. On the vendor’s website, you can try out a demo that allows you to explore the user interface and features using a fictional company. Then, there’s a 14-day free trial that lets you use the full-featured program with actual business data. If you need more time to determine if Zoho is right for you, you can request to extend the free trial once your two weeks are up. 

We tested Zoho’s onboarding process and found that adding new users is extremely easy. Within minutes of visiting Zoho’s site, you can set up a new user account. You can also call the provider’s sales number or contact the company via email for personalized setup advice. Zoho maintains offices worldwide, so your time zone is unlikely to be an issue. 

Customer Service

While some software vendors provide only minimal customer service, we were impressed that Zoho Books offers its paying customers multiple interactive support resources. You can contact the company by phone 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday — a rare perk in this sector. Users can also chat with an agent or email the vendor either within the accounting software or via the company’s website. On user-generated review site Trustpilot, Zoho maintains a score of 4.4 out of 5 for customer service, which is higher than the ratings for both QuickBooks and Xero.

Online help resources include FAQs and a searchable knowledge base. In-house coders are also available to help less-tech-savvy business owners make the most of Zoho’s automation abilities. Note that the free version of the software includes only email-based customer support. 

Zoho Books online support resources

Zoho Books offers multiple online support resources, including videos, blogs and help documentation. Source: Zoho

Limitations

While Zoho Books has excellent accounting features and automation abilities, we found a few drawbacks. 

  • Monthly transaction cap: One significant downside is the cap on monthly transactions. Paying users are limited to 5,000 transactions monthly, even on the highest plan. Although many service-based small businesses probably won’t exceed this limit, it’s something those with very high transaction volumes should keep in mind. 
  • Multiple subscriptions for multiple businesses: People who run multiple businesses should also know that although you can have multiple companies under a single account, each business requires a separate subscription. Keep this in mind when you estimate total costs against your budget.
  • Fee for additional users: Zoho supports only three users on its Standard plan, 10 on the Elite plan and 25 on the Ultimate plan. After that, you must pay an extra monthly fee for each additional user. That can add up if you need a lot of users. Some other accounting software packages from rival companies include unlimited users. 
  • Fewer integrations than competitors offer: Compared with competitors such as QuickBooks and Xero, Zoho has relatively few integrations with third-party apps.
  • No payroll services: Unlike competitors such as Xero, Zoho doesn’t offer payroll services. This is disappointing considering that payroll and accounting are connected.
  • Small accounts payable network: Zoho also lacks the comprehensive vendor network that would make it an effective player in the accounts payable space. Processing accounts payable is a vital part of running a business, so small business owners may want to consider additional software that supplements Zoho’s capabilities. Melio is a free tool that provides better bill management capabilities than Zoho does, and QuickBooks also includes accounts payable features. 
TipBottom line
Check out our QuickBooks Online review to learn about a rival platform that includes accounts payable features.

Methodology

We studied dozens of the best accounting and invoicing software solutions to help small businesses choose the right accounting software for their needs. During our hands-on testing and independent research, we evaluated features such as payment and invoicing capabilities, integrations, mobile apps, report generation, supported user count and customizability. We also considered pricing, the availability of free trials and customer service. 

We relied on vendor websites and software demos when conducting our analysis. We also examined user reviews to get independent opinions on the highlights and drawbacks of each product. When determining the best accounting software for business owners looking for automation features, we focused on the number of processes that could be automated via built-in tools and the ability to create custom tools. You can read more about our editorial process here.

FAQs

Zoho Books is cloud-based accounting software that small businesses use to automate many financial management functions, such as invoicing, payments and workflow.
Zoho Books is free for businesses that generate less than $50,000 in revenue. If your business makes more than that, you can purchase a paid plan.
Zoho is used by 150,000 businesses around the world.

Bottom Line

We recommend Zoho Books for …

  • Business owners who wish to automate many tedious invoicing and accounting tasks. 
  • Microbusinesses that are small enough to take advantage of Zoho’s free version. 

We don’t recommend Zoho Books for …

  • Less-tech-savvy business owners who want a more user-friendly, intuitive product with fewer bells and whistles. 
  • High-volume businesses with more than 5,000 transactions per year. 
  • Companies that require many integrations with third-party apps.
Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Mike Berner brings to business.com over half a decade of experience as a finance expert, having previously served as an economic analyst for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His expertise lies in conducting quantitative analysis and research, providing invaluable guidance for navigating the modern financial landscape. Berner, who has a bachelor's degree in economics and a bachelor of business administration in finance, enjoys simplifying complicated financial concepts for entrepreneurs and business owners. From deciphering the intricacies of business loans and accounting to identifying the best payroll systems and credit card processors, he offers comprehensive insights tailored to meet diverse business needs. Beyond dedicating himself to exploring and evaluating the latest financial solutions, Berner has also become adept at explaining how businesses can take advantage of artificial intelligence tools. His passion for sharing knowledge extends to various platforms, including Substack, TikTok and YouTube, where he imparts tips and strategies on topics like sales tactics, savvy investing and tax saving.
Zoho Books logo
Editor's Rating9.1/10
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