Zoho Books Review

Keelan Balderson
Keelan Balderson

Updated · Jun 06, 2022

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Want a simple online platform where you and your accountant can manage your finances? In this Zoho Books review, I explore how this cloud accounting software allows small and medium-sized businesses to handle their books, automate workflows, and work collaboratively.

Free Plan

Yes

Free Premium Trial

14-days

Invoicing

Yes

Taxes

Yes

Bank Feeds

Yes

Payroll

Add-on

Customer Support

5/5

Ease of Use

4/5

WORKS ON:

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Zoho Books logo

MINIMUM PRICE Free

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Best for: Small & Medium-Sized Businesses

Strengths
Strengths Unlimited free plan
Strengths Intuitive interface
Strengths Integrates your entire business
Strengths Several payment gateways
Weaknesses
Weaknesses Upsells other Zoho tools
Weaknesses Payroll is an add-on
Weaknesses Plans restrict number of users

What Is Zoho Books?

Zoho's accounting software is a web-based solution for businesses and accountants to streamline the bookkeeping process. It’s part of the broader Zoho suite of tools, but you don’t need them to make Books work for you. 

You can stay on top of what’s coming in and out, invoicing, and you can even import your bank feeds automatically to sync data. If you use other Zoho applications, they integrate seamlessly with Books, pulling info from sources like CRM, inventory management, and business mail. 

The Zoho Books free version is available for small businesses immediately. Those with higher turnover and a more significant number of clients should go for one of the affordable paid plans.

It’s not only accessible on your computer, but there's also a Zoho Books app for Android and iOS devices.

So, get your accounts in order by next Tax Day and never struggle with managing your finances again!

Zoho Books Features

The platform packs in the tools. Below are my Zoho Books reviews of each feature, so you can see if it’s the right choice for you.

Invoicing 

You create custom invoices that integrate with Zoho’s payment system. The Zoho Books invoice template couldn’t be any easier. It lets you add your company branding, change fonts, and move around elements to your liking. These can be a one-off, or you can use the Zoho Books recurring invoices option. 

Moreover, you can easily select other types of invoices from the different tabs and dropdown menus, i.e., a Zoho Books retainer invoice, fixed asset, etc.

You can also display multiple currencies, set cash/cheque or web payments, and use digital signatures or an added layer of security.

Furthermore, everything from the invoice due date to applicable VAT is available as a field or dropdown selection.

One thing every business owner knows is the hassle of having to chase down payments. Zoho Books invoice reminders let you send automatic email prompts at chosen intervals. Set these en-masse or alter the reminder rules per individual invoice. 

Invoicing also supports credit notes, returns, and refunds.

Estimates

You can also create invoices in the form of estimates. The Zoho Books quotes option is in a separate tab under the dashboard's primary ‘sales’ category. 

Your Zoho Books quotation can include itemized billing, shipping charges, and VAT. Moreover, two fields let you explain the details of the estimate and an option to create a retainer invoice simultaneously. Use this if you require the funds upfront before starting the project. 

Sales Orders

If you want to confirm sales with your team or a customer has initiated a sales order, you can manage them in a dedicated section. This streamlines processing, ensures no delivery errors, and syncs with your other accounting documents. For example, you can turn an accepted quote into a sales order and then an invoice with a few simple steps. 

You can also create partial invoices for a customer to approve if they’ve ordered more units than you currently have in stock. On the other hand, you can convert this kind of sales invoice into a purchase order so you can get those units as fast as possible.

Everything is easily shareable with your team and customers by hitting the email icon.

Purchase Orders

You simply go to the ‘Purchase Orders’ tab to create a Zoho Books purchase order. This feature logs your entire sales history and lets you create orders according to stock levels, or you can create one on the fly. A handy feature that allows you to deliver them directly to the customer.

Zoho purchase orders have all the necessary fields and dropdown menus, including vendor section, payment terms, shipment preferences, and VAT. Furthermore, you can write terms and conditions for the order and attach files like receipts or bills to add context for the vendor.

Not to forget that you can conveniently convert purchase orders into bills with the click of a button. 

Expense Tracking

No business is profitable without keeping track of its costs. You find the Zoho Books expenses tab under the ‘Purchases’ category. You can record a single payment or in bulk, set distance-based expenses for businesses like haulage, and categorize your costs for easier management. Moreover, you can quickly convert expenses into invoices for reimbursement.

If you record your expenses elsewhere, you can use the import feature to migrate them. It supports CSV, TSV, and Excel file formats.

On the other hand, you can use the Zoho Books export to excel feature to export the data from the platform, which also supports CSV files. 

Billing

If you’re confused about Zoho Books expense vs. bill, this is how it works. The Zoho books billing software is a separate section to expenses tracking. The Expenses section follows the whole lifecycle of a cost, some of which you don’t record as a bill at all. For example, when you entertain clients at a restaurant, you may record it as an expense, but there’s no one to bill

You can locate the bills tab under the ‘Purchases’ section. It deals exclusively with the actual creation and management of bills payable. 

Bills can be one-time or recurring, include landed costs, and you can send them for extra approval, so everyone is on board. If needed, go to purchase orders to convert them straight to a bill.

Billing also integrates well with sales. You can link items billed to vendors with the customers who purchased them. The item is then already available to add to the customer invoice when you create it. 

The bills section also accommodates refunds as well as vendor credits.

Vendor Portal

The vendor portal isn’t just where you manage your vendors and purchases. You can also grant vendors access themselves so they can be part of the process. Meanwhile, alerts let everyone know it’s time for the next step.

Clients can check a statement of accounts, as well as individual invoices and bills. They can also upload invoices and bills themselves.   

Banking

Zoho Books banking lets you track where your money is across multiple linked banks. The most important feature is Zoho books bank reconciliation. This lets you pull transactions from your banks, including PayPal, and reconcile them with your accounts instantly. 

Moreover, it collects data over time, allowing you to access past bank reconciliation, cash-flow predictions, and flag mismatches between what the banks say and what your accounts say. 

Zoho Books bank integration is comprehensive, though in the UK, the Payment Services Directive regulation requires some extra loops. You might have to migrate to Token and fetch the bank feed that way. Alternatively, you can import bank statements manually.

Nonetheless, Zoho Books supported banks include virtually any US bank and over 60 in the UK, including Barclays, Lloyds, Santander, Halifax, RBS, and the Co-Operative. The best way to check for your region is to head over to the help pages.

If you’re already a Zoho user, simply go to the ‘Banking’ category, click ‘Add Bank or Credit Card,’ and you’ll find a list of supported institutions. 

If in doubt, there’s a helpful video right on the page to walk you through the process.

When you add your bank account, it collects the Zoho Books bank feeds once every 24 hours, so don’t worry if you don’t see the data right away. 

Online Payments

You can easily collect customer payments online via the Zoho Books payment gateway. This includes integrations with the likes of PayPal, Stripe, Square, and WorldPay. You can dig into individual customer profiles and their payment choices. You can manually add new cards, bank accounts, or online payment methods, e.g., if you’re corresponding by phone or collecting info at an offline point of sale. 

Zoho uses a customer payment portal, where customers can access invoices and make payments via the available and chosen method. Zoho automatically crosses off paid invoices as soon as the customer pays. Receipts are customizable, so you can create an entire template or a personalized receipt with a nice thank you note to the customer. 

You can also pay your vendors online in the same manner. 

Contact Management 

While Zoho has a dedicated tool to handle customer relationship management (CRM), Zoho Books CRM is a scaled-back ‘Customers’ tab under the ‘Sales’ section. This lists their name, company name, email, phone, custom fields, and receivables. It provides the same type of database for vendors and accounts payable

You sort these contacts by each field or the created/modified dates, and you can import and export them in the common data file formats.

You’ll want to use the more advanced Zoho Books and Zoho CRM integration for more features.  

Accountant

The ‘Accountant’ section is where you’ll find manual journals with all financial transactions. You can also bulk update your accounts with a whole new account, perform currency adjustments, get a chart of accounts, and access your budget

Another useful feature is transaction locking, which stops you doing anything that can impact your accounts before a specific date, i.e., you can’t add, edit, or remove transactions until this date has passed.  

Inventory Management 

Zoho Books inventory is a combination of its standalone inventory management system. With this, you get ‘Items’ which includes the name, description, rate, and number of available units.

You can also create price lists and make mass inventory adjustments based on events like lost or stolen goods or fire damage.

With the full Zoho Inventory add-on, you can fully manage your orders with end-to-end tracking, warehouse management, and advanced reporting. 

Time Tracking

You will find a ‘Time Tracking’ category in the dashboard. The Zoho Books timesheet is for managing invoices for customers that bill per length of time, such as a contractor with an hourly billing rate. Here you can view and manage their timesheet invoices.

There’s also a projects section. This is for keeping track of project time, logging the project daily, weekly, or with a clock on/off timer widget. 

Documents

Over time, managing your accounts will cause you to build up an extensive database of documents. You can find all these in the cloud storage area. You can drag-and-drop files here, sort them based on numerous parameters, arrange them in folders, and set permissions. Furthermore, you can share a file or folder with anyone via email invite. 

Elsewhere, you can attach documents to emails and process transactions when the recipient sends them back. 

On top of that, as various documents come in, you can link them to transactions from your bank feed or other areas of Zoho, making record keeping a walk in the park.

A standout feature is the document auto scanner. This lets Zoho pull data from documents automatically for easy conversion into Zoho-compliant invoices, expenses, bills, sales orders, and purchase orders. You can also store receipts, bills, and tax-related docs to share with a professional accountant

Project Management 

The Zoho Books Projects integration is the perfect module for tracking chargeable time, as explored above with timesheets. It’s also suitable for logging expenses related to other types of projects and creating relevant invoices.

Zoho Books Projects lets you seamlessly track multiple projects, displaying the percentage of completion in the dashboard and the billable time. You can also collaborate with many different users, assigning roles with various permissions.

Sales Tax

Depending on your region, it implements sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) throughout all sections of Zoho bookkeeping. Simply use the dropdown box to select the appropriate tax or enter it manually. 

Automations

What stood out most during this Zoho Books review is its automation. All aspects of your accounts sync together under one dashboard and you can even import data from outside sources. 

Eliminate monotonous tasks with recurring actions. Then, you can set automatic reminders to increase the chance of being paid on time. Even banking rules let you categorize and filter potentially thousands of transactions so you can pinpoint what you’re looking for, and nothing slips through the net. 

In 2022, all businesses will most likely be automating their accounting with robust platforms like Zoho Books. 

Security

Anything financial needs to be secure and Zoho Books isn’t any different. It uses SSL encryption, two-factor authentication for users, and complies with various regional data protection regulations.

You can also secure invoices, bills, orders, etc., with a digital signature to ensure there’s a solid agreement between each party. 

Integrations

As previously explored, you can integrate Zoho with a number of third-party tools out of the box, as well as Zoho’s own wider suite of tools. Some of the more popular Zoho Books integration tasks include:

  • Amazon: You achieve the Zoho Books Amazon integration via Zapier. Firstly, it connects your Amazon Seller Central profile to the accounting platform. Secondly, whenever you receive a new Amazon order, it generates a sales invoice in Zoho.
  • WhatsApp: The Zoho Books WhatsApp integration lets you more easily communicate with your team, customers, and vendors. One way is to purchase the separate Zoho CRM, which now includes WhatsApp. Otherwise, use the third-party integrator Onlizer, which can integrate WhatsApp with Zoho Books directly. 

However, Zoho itself doesn’t endorse this method.

  • Xero: If you have been using Xero for accounting, you can achieve Zoho Books Xero integration using Zapier. A Zoho Books to Xero migration is possible with third-party tools, but the safest option is manually exporting data in CSV, TSV, or XLS. 
  • HubSpot: Zoho Books HubSpot integration starts at HubSpot and lets you accomplish two-way data syncing. It creates field mapping for you and data syncing is retroactive. You can also pick and choose the precise data you want to share.
  • CRM: Zoho Books Zoho CRM integration is seamless if you pay for the CRM tool add-on. 

Payroll

One of the more notable aspects is Zoho Books Payroll. This links Zoho’s native payroll tool to your ‘Bookkeeping’ dashboard. Keep on top of salaries, hourly wage payouts, and taxes systematically. It automates salary calculations, taxes, and deductions. Moreover, it sends out payslips when they’re ready. 

Plus, it systematizes all payroll expenses and taxes in the relevant expense and liabilities accounts within Books.

Reporting

Zoho Books reports give you extensive access to the data it collects. You can view summaries immediately from the dashboard homepage.

There’s also a main ‘Reports’ section where you can really dig into the data and see how your business is performing. This includes a general profit/loss, cash flow statement, and balance sheet overview, as well as info for:

  • Sales
  • Inventory
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Payments Received
  • Recurring Invoices
  • Payables
  • Purchases & Expenses
  • Taxes
  • Projects & Timesheets
  • Budgets
  • User Activity

Everything is customizable. For example, Zoho Books reporting tags let you group transactions by region. Reporting is also visually appealing, displaying charts and graphs, so you can easily digest the information.

In total, you get over 50 reports, but utilizing Zoho Analytics increases this greatly. 

Custom Fields

A feature worthy of praise is its platform-wide custom fields. Whether you’re creating an estimate, standard invoice, or adding a new contact, the option to add your own field that’s functional across the other tools is there.

This makes it useful for all kinds of obscure businesses with unique data needing to be collected and processed. It also helps sorting and segmentation when finding specific types of information.  

Zoho Books Demo

The demo account is your first port of call before using the free version or a Zoho Books free trial. This gives you complete access to the dashboard with dummy data to play around with. All it lacks is native and third-party integrations. However, it’s perfect for getting a feel of the platform.

Mobile

The Zoho Books mobile app covers all you need to manage your accounts. Everything available on the web dashboard is available via iOS and Android. Although it involves a bit more swiping and at times, I had to pinch in to see the detail of a chart. However, it’s still very easy to use. There’s also notification support for Apple Watch.

The main app’s dashboard shows summaries like cash flow, income and expenses, and total receivables. Moreover, contacts are easily accessible with a few extra menus to reach all the options.

For quick access to data and certain features, you can add widgets and icons to your device’s home screen. Furthermore, you can add contacts instantly by taking a photo of a business card. 

The GPS and Maps incorporation with mileage expenses is also impressive. 

It may be good to note that Zoho Books reviews of the mobile app are overwhelmingly positive. It has a 4.5/5 rating on Google Play as well as a superb 4.7/5 rating on the Apple App Store.

Zoho Books Customer Care

Zoho Books support is top-notch, offering users 24/5 live web, email, and phone chat. It also has extensive support pages for you to learn the system yourself. For example, there’s a video tutorial running through all the main features, as well as your typical FAQ and written guides.

You can access Zoho Books customer service from the dashboard by hitting the question mark icon in the top right corner. Of course, the demo option lets you get to grips with the platform before formally adopting it.

If you have a less urgent query, why not hop onto the community forum to browse for answers or to ask users directly. You can get help from knowledgeable admins who frequently chime in or prompt a formal support response. 

Zoho Books Ease of Use

The Zoho Books dashboard is very intuitive. The homepage displays summaries of your total receivables and payables, which you can sort over different periods. View your income statement and expense accounts, a ranking of your top expenses, and a list of your linked banks and credit accounts.

On the top right, you find a notification bell informing you of the number of unread documents, a settings cog, profile icon, and a link to support. 

On the left, you find all the main parent categories. These are Items (inventory), Banking, Sales, Purchases, Time Tracking, VAT, Accountant, and Reports. Within these are tabs with everything else. 

If you can navigate a menu, you can find what you need. 

Comparison Table

Here’s how Zoho Books stacks up against similar accounting solutions:

Zoho Books vs. Tally

Feature

Zoho Books

Tally

Minimum Price

Free

$630/yr

Key Functionality

Invoicing & Accounting

Estimates

Expenses

Bills

Banking

Projects

Inventory

Sales Orders

Purchase Orders

Invoicing & Accounting Inventory Management

Reports

Credit & Cash flow

Banking

Payroll

Web Access

Yes

Desktop Only

Mobile Apps

Great

N/A

Customer Support 

5/5

3/5

Ease of Use

4/5

3.5/5

Zoho Books vs. Wave

Feature

Zoho Books

Wave Accounting

Minimum Price

Free

Free

Key Functionality

Invoicing

Estimates

Expenses

Bills

Banking

Projects

Inventory

Sales Orders

Purchase Orders

Invoicing & Accounting

Sales

Purchases

Banking

Payroll

Web Access

Yes

Yes

Mobile Apps

Great

Poor

Customer Support

5/5

3/5

Ease of Use

4/5

4/5

Zoho Books vs. FreshBooks

Feature

Zoho Books

FreshBooks

Minimum Price

Free

$3.30/mo

Key Functionality

Invoicing & Accounting

Estimates

Expenses

Bills

Banking

Projects

Inventory

Sales Orders

Purchase Orders

Freelancers

Invoicing & Accounting

Estimates

Expenses

Payments

Projects

Time Tracking

Web Access

Yes

Yes

Mobile Apps

Great

Great

Customer Support

5/5

5/5

Ease of Use

4/5

4/5

Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks

Feature

Zoho Books

QuickBooks

Minimum Price

Free

$12.50/mo

Key Functionality

Invoicing & Accounting

Estimates

Expenses

Bills

Banking

Projects

Inventory

Sales Orders

Purchase Orders

Invoicing & Accounting

Payments

Payroll

Bank Connections

Time Tracking

Expenses

Tax

Cash Flow

Web Access

Yes

Yes

Mobile Apps

Great

Great

Customer Support

5/5

4/5

Ease of Use

4/5

4/5

Zoho Books vs. Xero

Feature

Zoho Books

Xero

Minimum Price

Free

$12/mo

Key Functionality

Invoicing & Accounting

Estimates

Expenses

Bills

Banking

Projects

Inventory

Sales Orders

Purchase Orders

Invoicing & Accounting

Bills

Expenses

Banking

Payments

Projects

Payroll

Contacts

Web Access

Yes

Yes

Mobile Apps

Great

Great

Customer Support

5/5

4.5/5

Ease of Use

4/5

3.5/5

Zoho Books Pricing

Zoho accounting pricing is based on your annual turnover, number of users, and the number of invoices you manage each year. Each tier also adds a few extra features that suit businesses as they grow. 

You can reduce your Zoho Books cost by choosing annual billing, which gives a discount on the comparative monthly price. 

Here’s a rundown of each plan:

Free

$0

$50K turnover limit, 1 user account, 1,000/yr invoice limit

Standard

$12/mo or $120/yr

No turnover limit, 3 user accounts, up to 5,000 invoices, recurring expenses, custom fields, timesheet billing, and more

Professional

$24/mo or $240/yr

5 users, unlimited usage, price lists, multi-currencies, recurring billing, stock tracking, retainer invoices, and more

Premium

$36/mo or $360/yr

Run 3 branches, custom domain, vendor portal, budgeting, custom reports, and more.

Beyond the free plan, you can try the professional plan for 14 days before committing. It gives you access to all the extra features you would usually need to pay for.

Verdict

The Books platform from Zoho is suitable for many businesses and users. An independent business owner could benefit at no cost or at an affordable price, thanks to its beginner-friendly design and generous plans. 

Larger companies can take full advantage of the advanced features and additional Zoho tools at an increased cost. Moreover, third-party integrations give you endless options

It’s a step above many competitors regarding features like Zoho custom fields, its document drive, and advanced reports that can be expanded further with Zoho Analytics. 

It does have a lot of competition from QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks. The former is more expensive, and the latter aims more at freelancers. 

However, if you’re in the market for a new, all-encompassing accounting solution, Zoho is well worth your time.

FAQ.


What is the use of Zoho Books?

You can tailor your small or medium-sized business accounting needs using the Zoho Books comprehensive web-based accounting platform.

It’s suitable for a business owner or their bookkeeper, as well as professional accountants that have multiple clients.

Does Zoho Books have a free plan?

Yes, you can use Zoho Books free of charge in a limited capacity. The only requirement to use the Zoho Books free plan is that your annual turnover is less than $50,000

You get only one user account and up to 1,000 invoices a year. Several other limits apply, but for small businesses, it’s an exceptional free long-term plan.

See our above pricing summary to learn more about the free version. There’s also a free trial of the professional plan if you want to test the extra features.

Does Zoho integrate with QuickBooks?

The only option to sync between the two systems is through Zapier. Once you have integrated Zapier, it lets you sync data between the QuickBooks Online version and Zoho Books.

There’s currently no fully native Zoho QuickBooks integration without Zapier. However, users can export QuickBooks data and manually import it onto Zoho.  

Can I use Zoho Books offline?

Unfortunately not. While I was doing this Zoho Books review, I found no offline mode. It requires you to access the internet to perform any Zoho-specific tasks. You can always import data you create offline, but you cannot use Zoho Books offline.

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Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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