Best Cloud Accounting Software for Small Business: Invoicing & Payments

Welcome to part 6 of our comparison series between Freshbooks, Xero and Quickbooks. Feel free to view Part 5: Reconciliation. Now on to Invoicing and Payments.

Invoicing & Payments in the past have been a very manual process.  

Invoices were printed and mailed, or sent via email and a check was mailed. But now, with the rise of cloud accounting, invoicing has jumped leaps and bounds to include electronic invoices with “Pay Now” buttons that allow you pay via credit card or via bank drafts. There is much more innovation that can happen in this space, but let’s see how our competitors line up…

The Features Evaluated For This Post

  • Invoice Creation
  • Online Invoicing and Customer Statements
  • Payment Options

Freshbooks

Invoice Creation

Freshbooks makes it easy to create an invoice either from the home screen or from the invoices tab as shown below:

Home Screen

Invoicing_-_Creation_1

Invoices Tab

Invoicing_-_Creation_2

Both links take you to the invoice creation screen where you can select the customer you’d like to invoice. A nice feature here is you can also create a client directly in this screen without having to navigate to the people tab.

Invoicing_-_New_Client

The process for invoice creation is really simple and easy.  By typing a few letters and making a few clicks your invoice is ready to go.  Another great feature for Freshbooks is that recurring invoices can be created and scheduled in the future so that you don’t have to manually create them each time.  This is very helpful for businesses that have fixed fees each month.

Online Invoicing and Customer Statements

Freshbooks was built initially as an invoicing platform first, and then an accounting system, so here you can see how Freshbooks shines. In the click of a button your invoice is emailed to your customer with a copy of the PDF invoice attached and a link to an online version of the invoice.

Email Invoice

Invoicing_-_Online_1

Click Link

Invoicing_-_Online_2

Pay Invoice

Invoicing_-_Online_3

I also want to point out that in here that your customer can see a history of all your transactions with them by just click the relevant tab.  Very slick and easy to clear up any historical miscommunications.

Payment Options

Freshbooks has provided some wonderful payment options and the most between our competitors.  You can see them all listed here under the “Payment Gateway” heading.

A few highlights are:

  • Paypal (credit card AND echecks)
  • Authorize.net
  • Braintree

When you have your payment gateway set up, you can select a default payment method, or you can select from the ones available as shown below:

Invoicing_-_Online_4

 

Conclusion

Freshbooks shines in this category and provides all the ease of use, online statements, and payment options that you could want in an accounting system.

Xero

Invoice Creation

Xero, similar to Freshbooks, makes it easy to create an invoice from the home screen or by going to the sales section.

Xero_Invoice_Creation_1

Xero_Invoice_Creation_2

When the link is clicked it takes you to the invoice creation page where you can fill out the information.  You can add a contact directly from this screen, but you are unable to fill in all contact details. (just the name). Xero allows you to add branding to your invoices, which is helpful if you have DBA’s or if you want to tailor invoices to specific customers.  The PDF invoices look beautiful!

Xero_Invoice_Creation_3

The process for invoice creation is very simple and easy using Xero. Xero also supports repeating invoices like Freshbooks/Quickbooks.

Online Invoicing and Customer Statements

Xero released online invoicing in 2012 and has enhanced it to include all the standard features you’d come to expect from a cloud invoicing system.

You can invoice and receive payment in three easy steps, similar to Freshbooks.  Xero does provide a few more customizations that Freshbooks doesn’t quite have yet.

Email

You can choose to attach the PDF or not, send to a different email, and even add files from Xero into the email as attachments.

Xero_Online_Statements_1

Click

Xero_Online_Statements_2

Pay

Xero_Online_Statements_3

 

It’s easy to see that Xero’s interface and branding can really help your invoices look stylish and classy. Like Freshbooks, Xero allows customers to see their historical invoices and payments online.

Payment Options

Xero works with a few different companies to make it easy to receive money. You can see them all listed here under the Xero add-ons area.

A few more popular payment methods are:

Xero also has some add-on apps that allow you to receive payment via ACH or credit card, including:

When you have your payment gateway set up, you can select a default payment method or you can select from the ones available as shown above:

Conclusion

Xero provides a whole slew of options for creating and sending invoices, and receiving payments.  With the broad strokes of invoicing covered, Xero’s invoicing should be able to handle most company’s needs.  The interface and customization options are also strong compared to the competitors.

Quickbooks

Invoice Creation

Quickbooks makes it easy to create an invoice either from any page you are in with their “+” button in the top center of the screen.

Quickbooks_Invoice_Creation_1

You can also create one directly from the sales screen.

Quickbooks_Invoice_Creation_2

Once you reach the invoice creation screen, Quickbooks allows you to enter in your invoicing details, and similar to the other programs, when you choose a client it will automatically populate a lot of the information for you.

One nifty trick QB has put in here is the ability to make an invoice repeating directly from this screen.

Quickbooks_Invoice_Creation_3

The process for invoice creation is once again, very simple and easy using Quickbooks. Not too much variation here between our competitors.

Online Invoicing and Customer Statements

Quickbooks, long the dominant player in the accounting field in the United States, has vastly improved their online invoicing and has added a couple nifty features our competitors lack.

You can invoice and receive payment in three easy steps.

Email (apologies for erasing, no demo account)

You can choose who you email it to, how you want paid, and get a nice preview of the invoice as well.

Quickbooks_Online_Statements_1-1

Click (apologies for erasing, no demo account)

 

Quickbooks_Online_Statements_2-1

Pay (apologies for erasing, no demo account)

Quickbooks_Online_Statements_3

 

As far as I could tell, I didn’t see a way to look at past invoice history when I clicked on the invoice, as was available on Freshbooks and Xero.  Overall, the experience is very similar for the invoice creator and the customer as the others.  It’s really easy to create an invoice and get paid.

Payment Options

Quickbooks operates primarily as a closed environment and prefers customers to use their own products .  As such, their payment options appear to be limited to their own offerings.  For this reason, I think using Quickbooks puts you at a disadvantage in online invoicing if you’d like to use a different payment gateway. If you want paid electronically you need to apply and sign up for QB merchant services.  It should be noted though, that QB offers bank drafts to cut down on credit card fees.

When you have your payment gateway set up, you can select which payment method to allow in your invoices directly on the invoice.

Conclusion

Quickbooks lines up well with the competition, including adding a few extra features the others don’t have. The biggest knock, as noted above, is their closed environment doesn’t allow for much choice in payment method.

Winner: Xero & Freshbooks

This was a tough one to choose, and so I think I’ll say it’s a tie between Xero and Freshbooks.

Feature by feature, they both check all the boxes and make it easy to invoice and get paid.  Xero has a nicer interface and has more stylish invoices, but based on the criteria we rated, can’t complain with either one.

That’s it for our invoicing and payments review.

Stay tuned for our next comparison between the platforms, as we will comparing the collaboration capabilities of Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks.

Also, feel free to review the rest of the Best Cloud Accounting Software series:


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