Zoho Books Review

By Simone Johnson,
business.com writer
| Updated
May 18, 2020
Image Credit: utah778 / Getty Images
 

Zoho Books is an ideal solution for small business owners, thanks to its solid array of features and usability. It's affordable, intuitive to use and has nearly every feature we looked for, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory and banking. Really small businesses can benefit from using this solution. It's because of this, and more, that Zoho Books is our choice as the best accounting and invoice generating software for really small businesses.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books

The Best Accounting and Invoice-Generating Software

The Verdict

Zoho Books is an intuitive accounting program with full accounts receivable and accounts payable functionality. It's also very affordable, making it the best accounting software for really small businesses.

To see all of our recommendations for small business accounting software, visit our best picks page.

Zoho Books is an online application, so you can access your account from any browser. It has automated features that can save you time, such as recurring invoices and automatic payment reminders, and client portals, which makes it easy to follow up with your customers on quotes and payments. It's also scalable, so you can continue using it as your business grows or even if you start another business.

Pricing

Zoho Books is one of the most affordable accounting software applications in its class, especially considering the features that come with it, such as inventory tracking, billable time and expenses, and project management.

Three service tiers are available: Basic, Standard and Professional, and there are a few features you can add to your account for an extra fee. You can subscribe month to month, but the price is discounted if you choose an annual plan.  

  • The Basic plan costs $9 per month ($90 per year if you pay annually) and supports two users – you and your accountant. You can add 50 contacts and create five automated workflows. You can use it to create invoices and projects, track expenses, and reconcile your accounts.

  • The Standard plan costs $19 per month ($190 per year if you pay annually) and supports three users – you, your accountant and another user. You can add 500 contacts and 10 automated workflows. It includes all the features in the Basic plan, plus you are able to add reporting tags to your transactions, manage vendors, track bills and print checks.

  • The Professional plan costs $29 per month ($290 per year if you pay annually) and supports 10 users. You can add an unlimited number of contacts and, like the Standard plan, create 10 automated workflows. In addition to the features in the Standard plan, this subscription has purchase ordering and inventory tracking tools, allows you to create sales orders, and you can customize the URL for the software and the customer portal with your domain name.

  • Additional users cost $2 per month ($20 per year if you pay annually). This feature is available for all plans, not just the top tier.

  • Snail mail costs $2 per credit. Instead of printing and mailing hard copies of invoices or estimates to customers that prefer this format, you can have Zoho do it for you. It costs one credit to mail domestic customers and two credits for international customers. You need to plan ahead though: It takes five business days for domestic snail mail to reach your customers and 10 to 15 days for international.

  • Autoscans cost $5 per month ($50 per year if you pay annually) and supports 50 scans per month. When you upload documents, such as vendor invoices or receipts, to the system, it automatically scans them and extracts the data to create new transactions, saving you the time it would take to manually create them. 

Overall, Zoho's pricing is quite competitive. The business offers multiple plans, with all of them being well within the price range for most small businesses.

Features

Zoho Books has several capabilities that help you complete your accounting tasks quickly. After you create an estimate or sales order, you can convert it to an invoice, a retainer invoice or a recurring invoice with just a few clicks, saving you from manually creating these documents. Then, if you want to rearrange the product rows on an estimate or invoice, you can drag and drop them into place. The software gives you the option of emailing your invoices as soon as you create them, scheduling them to be sent later or using the company's Snail Mail service to print and mail them for you.

Here are more features that can save you time:

  • You can schedule payment reminders to be automatically emailed to customers and create multiple messages that are sent at different times. For example, you could create a payment reminder email and send it a week before the invoice is due, send a second email on the due date, and send a third email if you haven't received a payment a week after the due date.

  • If you connect your account with a payment processor, you can accept invoice payments online and get paid faster. Compatible payment gateways include PayPal, Braintree, Stripe and Square.

  • You can schedule reports to be automatically generated weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually and then 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 summary report that gives you an overview of your business's performance, with summaries of your income and expenses, cash flow, top expenses, and active projects. More than 40 reports are built into the software, including a general ledger, profit and loss, sales by item, timesheet details, and aged receivables and payables.

  • Zoho Books' mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. It also has an app for Windows phones. With the app, you can create invoices, run reports, capture receipts, record expenses and track billable time no matter where you are.

  • Keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly move through the software and create new transactions. 

Zoho Books connects to your business bank and credit card accounts, updating the bank feed daily. If you need to see a current transaction, you can refresh the bank feed, though you can only do this once a day. It has a bank reconciliation feature that suggests possible matches, though it doesn't feel as polished as those of other competing accounting applications. 

One of the nicer features included with Zoho Books is its client portal, that makes it easy for your customers to view their invoices and pay their bills online. You can use it to send estimates and discuss them with your clients directly within the program rather than via email, text or phone. The software alerts you when your customer views an estimate or invoice, accepts or declines an estimate, or makes a payment.

Here's a sampling of other features included with Zoho Books:

  • Project time tracking and billing is included. You can create projects, set tasks, track the time you spend on them and invoice customers for billable time. The Client Approvals feature lets your clients approve timesheets before you bill them. The software also allows you to track and invoice billable expenses.

  • Inventory tracking tools are available with the Professional plan. It shows you the available quantity when you enter the item on an invoice. If you enter a higher number than you have on hand, the number turns red. You can set up the system to email you a notification when the inventory drops below a certain number or reorder point. If your inventory needs are more advanced, such as if you need to bundle items, you can add the Zoho Inventory app to the program for an additional cost.

  • This accounting software integrates with other Zoho programs and several third-party programs, including payment gateways, tax programs and Zapier, which allows you to connect to hundreds of additional apps.

  • The template gallery has more invoice customization options than most accounting programs. You can choose from 16 templates, several languages and multiple fonts. Add your logo and a background image, and select colors for the background, accents, your company's name, your customer's name and the rest of the text on the page. You can choose which fields to include and change the text of each field as it appears on the document. Other document types, such as estimates and payment receipts, are also customizable.

  • When you view a transaction, the audit trails feature shows you a history of when it was created, if it was converted to or from another type of transaction, and if the transaction has been updated, sent or paid. It notes the user's name, along with the date and time, and allows you to add comments to the transaction. 

The system supports barcode scanning, and you can create price lists, which is a useful feature if you offer special pricing to certain customers.

Zoho Books Pros

Like many of the online accounting software programs we reviewed, Zoho Books is easy to set up. You provide basic information about your company, choose which modules (features) you want the system to include and connect your payment processor. The Getting Started button at the top right of the dashboard has a video that walks you through the software's main features. It also prompts you to create your first transaction, connect your bank account and set up your system preferences.  

The interface is logical and attractive. The dashboard displays graphs and charts that display an overview of your cash flow, receivables, payables, expenses, projects, and bank accounts. You can change the time period for the charts, but you can't rearrange the cards on the dashboard.

You're able to see analytics and real-time data to help make your business decisions. When you click the tabs on the menu bar, each screen includes a Page Tips button that opens up a fly panel with a short video and a list of related topics that link to the knowledgebase. 

Zoho Books' usability is strong, and its features and pricing make it a great option for startups and small businesses. If your business falls into one of these two categories, Zoho Books is worth a close look.

Zoho Books Cons

Zoho Books offers a lot of functionality to small businesses at an affordable price, but there are a few things to be aware of before you subscribe.

Larger small businesses should be aware that there's a cap of 5,000 transactions per month on the highest plan. Even though this amount is more than ample for most small businesses, it's a limit to keep in mind if your small business is growing quickly.

Another potential negative is that while the software can support multiple businesses under a single account, you need to pay a separate subscription for each organization. You can switch between the businesses, but there isn't a feature that allows you to manage and monitor them from one screen. If you need to transfer data between two organizations, you can do so manually by exporting the data from one organization and then uploading it to the other, but it doesn't have a feature that allows you to do this automatically. 

Also, Zoho Books doesn't have a payroll services add-on, which may be an issue for larger small businesses that have several employees.

Finally, Zoho Books doesn't include fixed asset-management features that calculate depreciation for computers, equipment and office furniture.

Customer Support

You can contact the company by phone 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, for free, unlimited customer support. You can chat with an agent or email the company either within the accounting software or on the company's website. Online help resources include FAQs and a searchable knowledgebase. 

These are all extremely helpful resources for small business owners who aren't used to using technology frequently. Zoho Books is user-friendly and offers quality customer support for even the newest tech users.

To test the level of service, we contacted Zoho by phone and live chat posing as a small business owner interested in accounting software. During each interaction, the Zoho representatives explained everything very clearly and politely. They explained how Zoho would help us and what features us should be aware of. They encouraged us to try the free trial and were willing to continue the conversation if we had additional questions at a later time.

 

Zoho Books

Zoho Books

The Best Accounting and Invoice-Generating Software

The Verdict

Zoho Books is an intuitive accounting program with full accounts receivable and accounts payable functionality. It's also very affordable, making it the best accounting software for really small businesses.

Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.