By Daniel Lewis,
/ Advertising Disclosure

4.6 / 5
TOTAL SCORE
SUMMARY

Zoho Books is an excellent option for small businesses that want an affordable and easily accessible solution to accounting, without requiring payroll functionality.

DETAILED RATING
Features
Pricing
User Experience
Security
Service & Support
POSITIVES
  • Very Affordable Price Plans
  • Amazing Interface
  • Easy To Use
  • Excellent Mobile Applications
  • Lots of Integrations
  • Great Invoicing Functionality
  • Superb Customer Service
NEGATIVES
  • No Payroll Feature
  • Unsuited For Large Businesses

Among the many Zoho online productivity and management applications, here I’ll talk about Zoho Books. This cloud-based app is explicitly designed to meet small business accounting needs.

Zoho Books is excellent for small businesses on a budget. The only thing it lacks is payroll functionality, which might be off-putting to some small businesses.

I found it to be effortless to use as it has one of the best interfaces around. This guide will outline the pros, cons, customer service, key features, pricing, and security features of the Zoho Books accounting platform.

Editor’s note:  Zoho Books is one of the most user-friendly platforms I have ever tested. The design interface is incredibly streamlined and logical, with all the subcategories neatly arranged where you would expect them. Frankly, no other platform offers such a rich and easy user experience that is simple, colorful, and comprehensive. The client portal is fantastic. Moreover, small business owners will also be attracted to its superb invoicing functionality, not to mention its time tracking and project management capabilities. Aside from a few interoperability issues between specific applications in the complete Zoho suite and the obvious lack of payroll, Zoho Books is a premium online accounting platform.

Zoho Books Online Features

Zoho Books provides a rich feature set in terms of functionality, paired nicely with a neat dashboard. Here is an overview of the features offered by Zoho Books Online:

  • Bank Reconciliation (Basic Package)
  • Custom Invoices (Basic Package)
  • Expense Tracking (Basic Package)
  • Projects and Timesheets (Basic Package)
  • Recurring Transactions (Basic Package)
  • Sales Approval (Basic Package)
  • Budgeting (Basic Package)
  • Zoho Sign Integration (Basic Package)
  • Bills (Standard)
  • Vendor Credits (Standard)
  • Reporting Tags (Standard)
  • Purchase Approval (Standard)
  • Twilio Integration (Standard)
  • Purchase Orders (Professional)
  • Sales Orders (Professional)
  • Stock Tracking (Professional)
  • Custom Domain (Professional)
  • Vendor Portal (Professional)

Zoho Books Online Features Zoho Books Online Features II

Zoho Books offers more transaction types and more flexible forms than any other product I reviewed. Beyond the standard sales forms that competitors support, it includes retainer invoices, delivery notes, and packing slips. Invoices contain fields for shipping charges and adjustments in addition to discounts and sales tax. Purchase transactions – expenses, bills, purchase orders, and so on – are similarly detailed and flexible.

In terms of timekeeping and project management, few other platforms compare to Zoho BooksTime tracking is linked to a project and a customer, which would be problematic if you wanted to use separate billing for customers.

Zoho Books shines in its report functionality. There are a mind-boggling number of criteria where you can filter your reports in the most minute detail. The reports are well categorized, and easy to navigate for simple drill-downs. The Import/Export functionality is what you would expect in a good accounting platform (i.e., all major features are available).

In multiple domains – contact and item records, transactions, inventory management, project management, customizability, automation, dashboard, and user interface – Zoho Books is the most powerful and flexible accounting service I’ve reviewed. The only real issue is the lack of integral payroll features. 

Zoho Books Pricing Plan

The price is significant, but it is often not a deal-breaker; just ask anybody who has run into problems with accounting solutions. $15 a month extra is nothing compared to the hassle a subpar accounting platform can cause.

Thankfully, Zoho Books offers excellent pricing and great service. There are 4 basic pricing plans:

  1. Free  – For businesses with less than $50K yearly revenue, 1 user + 1 accountant
  2. Basic ($15 per month) – 50 contacts, 3 users, 5 workflows.
  3. Standard ($40 per month) – 500 contacts, 5 users, 10 workflows.
  4. Professional ($60 per month) – More than 500 contacts, 10 users, 10 workflows.

Zoho Books Pricing Plan

The following table gives a comparison of base prices for well-known software vendors:

Brand Base Price What is on the plan Advantages
Zoho Books $9 per month All basic accounting functionality. Excellent invoicing functionality. Very intuitive and easy to use. Excellent customer support.
Quickbooks Online $25 per month All basic accounting functionality. Excels at payroll. Superb level of functionality. Lots of integrations. 50% off the first 3 months.
Onpay $36 per month Basic accounting functionality. Integrates easily with Patriot Payroll. Simple pricing structure. + $4 a month for each person
Patriot Accounting Software $15 per month Basic accounting functionality. Integrates easily with Patriot Payroll. Simple pricing structure. Very easy to use. Ideal for small businesses. Excellent customer reviews.

Zoho Books Comparison With Other Platforms

When you try to understand any given software, it’s always best to compare it with others, as you get a better idea of where it stands out and where it falls short. It’s also worth noting that it is not a strict apples-to-apples comparison.

Sometimes, you need software that provides specific functionality. At other times, you will simply like the dashboard and navigation in one given platform, even if that is not a general consensus. The main thing to keep in mind with Zoho Books is the lack of payroll functionality, which is a shame. 

It is the one thing that holds it back as a premium all-in-one accounting solution. With this in mind, the following table will give a broad comparison between the top names in online accounting.

Vendor Price Ease of Use Dashboard Integrations Functionality Customer Service
Zoho Books 5 5 5 4.5 4.5 5
4 4.5 5 5 5 4
5 4 4.5 4 5 4.5
Patriot Software 5 4 4.5 4 5 5

Accounting Software Integrations & Add-Ons

Zoho’s add-on feature is a unique and novel addition. You can add an additional user for $2 a month which is very helpful and was a common complaint before it was introduced. Zoho Books also offers an auto-scan option, and you’ll have to pay $15 per 25 auto-scans. You can send invoices and estimates by mail directly through Zoho Books if you purchase snail mail credits. The cost is $2/credit; one credit is needed for US mail, two credits for international mail.

In terms of integrations, Zoho Books is simply unparalleled (except for the payroll integrations, of course). You can easily connect Zoho books with all the other Zoho products, and do pretty much anything you can think of. I am a huge supporter of the Zoho suite of products that all work in unison, bringing you an all-encompassing user experience. Here is the list of the Zoho suite of apps:

  1. Zoho People
  2. Zoho Books
  3. Zoho Inventory
  4. Zoho CRM
  5. Zoho Sites
  6. Zoho Projects
  7. Zoho Desk
  8. Zoho Social
  9. Zoho SalesIQ
  10. Zoho Expense
  11. Zoho Recruit
  12. Zoho One
  13. Zoho Motivator
  14. Zoho Contact Manager
  15. Zoho Sales Inbox
  16. Zoho Sites
  17. Zoho Campaigns
  18. Zoho Survey
  19. Zoho Forms
  20. Zoho Page Sense
  21. Zoho Desk
  22. Zoho Assist
  23. Zoho Mail
  24. Zoho Cliq
  25. Zoho Sprints
  26. Zoho Connect
  27. Zoho Show Time
  28. Zoho Writer
  29. Zoho Show
  30. Zoho Sheets
  31. Zoho Docs
  32. Zoho Sign
  33. Zoho Vault

Accounting Software Integrations & Add-Ons

You can also get bundles, like Zoho One, which is the entire Zoho suite of products. But the point is, whatever you need to do, you are nearly guaranteed that Zoho has an application that can do it. Because all are a part of the same platform, the integration is seamless, and to use them; you only need to pay for your subscription and login.  The Zoho Books integrations are not as comprehensive as certain competitors (Quickbooks Online comes to mind) in terms of external applications.

Zoho Books User Experience

Zoho Books offers an amazingly smooth user experience.  I would go as far as to say that it offers the best user experience you will find. Zoho has created a product that is a sheer delight to use which also offers an excellent level of functionality. I have broken down user experience into five key areas:

Overall User Experience – Unlike Zoho Books is simple to use, even without previous knowledge. The advanced features are there, but they do not get in the way while navigating the platform initially. Novice users will not be confused with the easy tutorials and step-by-step instructions, as well as the neat design. Everything with Zoho Books is intuitive, and the directories are easy to find and located where they should be.

Client Portal – To this day, this is still one of my favorite client portals out there; it is easy to use and has a very appealing UI. Clients have the option to view their home dashboard, estimates, invoices, and project details and can make partial or full invoice payments directly through the portal. They can comment on estimates as well. The best part is, you get real-time notifications about when your invoices and estimates have been viewed and paid.

Contact Management – You can manage both customers and vendors in Zoho. You can add basic contact information, multiple contact persons, custom fields, reporting tags, internal notes, and more. When you click on a contact, you’re taken to a beautiful dashboard where you can see an overview of that contact’s information, sales, comments, and statements. Even better, you can request reviews and testimonials directly from your clients within Zoho Books.

Dashboard – The Zoho Books dashboard is appealing and makes it easy to view your financial state. The dashboard features graphs for Total Receivables, Total Payables, Cash Flow, Income and Expense, Your Top Expenses, Projects, and Bank and Credit Cards. You can also change the color theme of your whole dashboard and main menu, which is a neat addition.

Mobile Applications – The excellent user experience is also reflected in its Android and IOS mobile applications. A multi-screen dashboard displays charts for elements like Total Receivables, Cash Flow, and Income & Expenses. The contact records, which are quite robust in the browser-based version, are well executed in the mobile app, though not nearly as detailed. Open one, and you instantly see contact information and the receivables/payables balance. Icons on this screen let you call, email, or message the contact, while another icon takes you to links for creating new transactions, accepting payments, and more.

Zoho Books Customer Service & Support

Zoho Books’ customer service is exceptional. The two tickets that I sent in were answered promptly, the first within 90 minutes and the second within 2 hours. What’s great about the Zoho Books customer support is that you can quickly contact a live representative who is polite, knowledgeable, and friendly. It is exceedingly rare in the online accounting industry and many other sectors. Customer service is available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

Zoho Books also offers many support options, including a YouTube series, live webinars, Twitter and Facebook accounts, a knowledge base, live chat, contact, form, phone, and email. 

While there might be some complaints about Zoho Books on social review sites, you have to take this with a pinch of salt. Because Zoho has so many products, some users are inevitably going to complain. You would be hard-pressed to find any serious negative reviews or complaints about Zoho Books specifically, the main complaint is related to the lack of payroll support. Overall, Zoho Books’ support and customer service exceeded my expectations.

Zoho Books Software Security

Zoho Books takes its security precautions seriously, as can be seen on its whitepaper. They have divided their security features into ten major areas:

  1. Organizational security
  2. Physical security
  3. Infrastructure security
  4. Data security
  5. Identity and access control
  6. Operational security
  7. Incident management
  8. Responsible disclosures
  9. Vendor management
  10. Customer Controls For Security

Each category is broken down into subcategories. For instance, organizational security is broken down into employee background checks, security awareness, dedicated security and privacy teams, internal audit and compliance, and endpoint security. It is typical of Zoho’s granular approach of breaking everything down and interlinking them.

In terms of the security features within the platform itself, you have complete control. You can restrict each user’s access and disable the capability to identify personally identifiable information (‘PII’), in line with the latest GDPR regulations. When you create new custom fields, you can also choose to encrypt personally identifiable information. Users without access will be unable to export it. An example of PII would be a bank account number or social security number.

Moreover, all the payment pages created using Zoho Checkout are SSL encrypted. When it comes to PCI compliance, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) enforces a set of practices to be followed by companies (companies that process, store, or transmit card details) to protect their customers’ card information. All backup data is AES-256 encrypted.

Conclusion: Zoho Books  Is an Excellent Cloud Accounting Platform

Zoho Books is an amazing account software perfect for small business owners who want an easy but competent means to perform their bookkeeping without needing a payroll feature. It is one of my favorite companies and my favorite platforms. Everything is so easy, and the customer service is superb.

The downside is that there is no US payroll (yet, but Zoho has announced they are developing one), which is a significant disadvantage. If you want to keep your existing payroll but need a separate accounting solution, Zoho Books is an excellent choice. If you need payroll, it’s not for you.

FAQs: Popular Questions on Zoho Books

Is Zoho Books Legit?

Yes, Zoho Books is a legitimate cloud-based accounting platform, a part of the Zoho suite of financial and productivity apps. It offers impressive features, excellent user experience, and comes at a great price.

Which Is Better, Zoho Books or Quickbooks?

This is a tricky question, as both platforms have their high and low points. As I can’t provide a concrete answer, I can say that there is no one better than the other, but it depends on your specific needs and available budget. For more info on this, please read the complete side-by-side comparison between Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online.

How Safe Is Zoho Books?

Zoho Books is very safe. It is because sensitive information is protected from both Zoho employees and third-party hackers. You have control over personally identifiable information. Zoho has been around for over 20 years. Starting as WebNMS, their products were used by the US Department of Defense and the US Navy. Your information is as safe as possible, and third parties do not store the Zoho Books data. While there is no such thing as 100% security, Zoho is pretty much as safe as you will get.

What Forms of Payment Does Zoho Book Support?

Zoho payments now accept a wide variety of payment gateways, and this can streamline your bookkeeping functionality. Zoho only has access to the last four digits of your customer’s credit card for reference purposes, in line with data protection laws. You can choose from any of the below payment processors to accept payments from clients:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Authorize.net
  • Payflow Pro
  • Payments Pro
  • 2 CheckOut
  • Braintree
  • Forte
  • ACH Payments
  • WePay
  • GoCardless
  • Mercado Pago

The fees are 2.9% + $0.30c per transaction for most payment processors here, which is something of an industry standard. Payflow Pro is an exception at a $25 flat fee per month.

Can I Set up Automatic Invoices for Customers With Zoho Books?

Yes, you can create automatic invoices with Zoho Books. The app allows plenty of automation, and auto-invoices are one of these. It is an excellent option for recurring payments and can help streamline your invoicing. You will not forget to send an invoice, as the app will send the invoice for you and will remind you as well.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.
Comments
  • Yami Linson
    Reply

    I truly appreciate the Zoho customer service for always being so friendly and knowledgeable and solving the issues on the go. I recently took up the basic plan for Zoho, for my freelancing needs and I am always excited to use their attractive and appealing platform. Actually it makes finance, invoice and reports management so much fun.

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