Welcome to part 4 of our comparison series between Freshbooks, Xero and Quickbooks. Feel free to view Part 3: Automation. Now on to Add-ons.
When it comes to choosing the right cloud accounting software for small business, understanding how the benefits of add-ons in the different software’s app-stores, and how they have taken hold over the last few years is something you will want to consider.
Add-ons in the desktop era had to be installed on each desktop computer, and the difficulty to access data from the accounting systems severely reduced the add-ons ability to be useful.
Fast forward to present day and add-ons have become an integral piece of a small business back-office infrastructure. The ability for systems to communicate and share data is now one of the top features looked for by small business owners. Add-ons help eliminate double entry, and provide small businesses with amazing added features they otherwise wouldn’t have if they stuck with just one system.
So let’s see how our three accounting systems approach add-ons…
The Freshbooks add-on store can be found here.
From the beginning, Freshbooks has had an open API for other systems to connect to, and at the time of this writing, Freshbooks boasts over 75 add-ons.
In particular I really like the variety of payment gateways that integrate with their invoicing system. They have a heavy lock on invoicing for creative companies, and they do a great job of giving you invoice payment options.
A lot of big name companies connect with the Freshbooks API (including Xero, ironically, though they aren’t listed). From CRM to Customer Support, Freshbooks has viable options in most categories that fosters competition and innovation among the apps.
Xero has created an “add-on marketplace” that can be found here.
Xero has worked with software partners from the beginning to offer services that their core product doesn’t offer.
The strategy was simple: improve the experience of customers using Xero, whether by their own development or by others, as either would benefit Xero customers, and that would benefit Xero. With over 300+ add-ons and the number growing almost daily, Xero has created an ecosystem of apps that enable Xero customers to run nearly any small or medium sized company on their platform.
From my own research and experience here are a few of the more popular add-ons used by small businesses that use Xero:
The three add-ons above in combination with the Xero accounting system can provide a complete back-office suite including accounting, reporting, bill payment, receipt and bill management, and payroll. The beauty of having all of these systems connected and exchanging data is almost magical.
Check out this Xero TV video on their app marketplace.
Quickbooks took a different approach initially within their app store. They kept a closed API for several years with their Quickbooks online product, offering their own services and add-ons which usually filled the gap nicely for small business, but didn’t give them a variety of options to choose from.
With additional pressure coming from “app stores” opening up across the industry among their competitors, it was only a matter of time before the accounting behemoth released their own. You can see the Quickbooks app store here, and after a little digging past the intuit owned add-ons, you’ll find there is a third-party apps marketplace to browse through.
Quickbooks still has a giant market share in the industry. so they don’t prefer to advertise competitor add-ons over their own products, (or promote them equally) but this is a giant step in the right direction for them to open up their accounting platform for other companies to connect to.
Since Quickbooks Online is now an open platform, especially with all that market share, I expect Intuit’s store to keep improving in selection and quality. Smaller app developers will want to connect with that large customer base that would enable them to grow faster, and create more customers in a shorter amount of time.
It’s clear that each company has made a large investment into add-ons that enable their product to offer more features and benefits to customers. I expect all three add-on stores to grow, mature and foster competition and selection in their stores, which greatly benefits customers.
Xero has made the largest investment in their software partners than either Quickbooks or Freshbooks. You can see it by how Xero promotes and advertises their software partners, and how they are actively adding on and pursuing more and better partners in each app category.
As a small business owner myself, I love to have the ability to research and test the applications I use. I also like to see competition and a lot of options to choose from so I can find the one that best fits me and my business.
Xero has approached their app store with that perspective in mind from day one.
If you are needing help with deciding which business apps to choose for your own business, get in touch and we’d be happy to chat with you for free on what apps would be a good fit.
That’s it for our add-ons review.
Stay tuned for our next comparison between the platforms, as we will comparing the reconciliation & expenses capabilities of Freshbooks vs Xero vs Quickbooks.
Also, feel free to review the rest of the series:
- Part 1: The Criteria
- Part 2: Design
- Part 3: Automation
- Part 5: Reconciliation & expenses
- Part 6: Invoicing & payments
- Part 7: Collaboration (Coming Soon)
- Part 8: Reporting (Coming Soon)