Zoho Books Review 2021

Zoho Books is an impressively automated and affordable cloud-based accounting software, but if you're looking for easy payroll integration, Zoho could be a little more trouble than it's worth. Business.org's Zoho review can help you decide.
Best automation
Zoho
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
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    $9/mo. starting price
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    Customizable alerts and task automation
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    Excellent reporting features
  • X
    No easy payroll integration

For just $9 a month, Zoho's accounting solution, Zoho Books, helps you track business expenses, send invoices, and accept online payments. It also automates as many of those tasks as possible, which means less time entering data and more time steering your business towards success. Interested? Business.org's Zoho Books review can help you decide if that sweet, sweet automation and low price outweigh Zoho's main drawback: its lack of easy payroll syncing.

Zoho Books accounting software plans and pricing 2021

Plan name
Starting price
Number of customers or vendors
Key features
Learn more
Basic$9.00/mo.Up to 50 Invoicing, expense tracking, project management
Standard$19.00/mo.Up to 500 Basic features + recurring billing, purchase approval, enhanced reporting
Professional$29.00/mo.500 or more Standard features + inventory tracking, purchase orders, sales orders

Data effective 11/30/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Zoho Books is best for businesses with few employees

If you want to spend as little time as possible keeping your books, Zoho's accounting features make it a great fit—as long as you don't have many employees. Why? Because Zoho Books doesn't have an easy payroll solution. Other popular accounting software providers either offer their own payroll product or sync with payroll providers like Gusto . . . but Zoho doesn't.

Practically speaking, Zoho's lack of payroll syncing means you'll use separate payroll software to calculate employees' wages. Then you'll re-enter that same information in your Zoho Books chart of accounts to ensure your business finances are accurate.

If this sounds like a hassle, well, that's because it is. As a result, we can't really recommend Zoho Books to companies with more than a handful of employees. But if you work for yourself, employ two or three other people, or don't mind re-entering information (or paying an accountant to do it for you), Zoho's automation, price, and ease of use make it a great choice.

Zoho Books accounting software pros and cons

Strengths
Pro Bullet Stellar automation and customization
Pro Bullet Comprehensive features and reporting
Pro Bullet Low starting price and additional user fees
Weaknesses
Con Bullet No easy payroll integration
Con Bullet Limited customer service (5 days a week)

Zoho pros

Like the super-popular QuickBooks, Zoho's cloud-based accounting software is hyper intuitive—ideal for business owners new to the wide world of accounting. And unlike QuickBooks, Zoho's accounting plans start at a deeply reasonable $9 a month. (In fact, Zoho's priciest plan is just $4 more than QuickBooks' least expensive plan for small businesses.)

Plus, extra users cost just $2 a month or $20 for a full year, which is an absolute steal. For instance, QuickBooks doesn't let you add extra users, while FreshBooks charges $10 a month for each one.

But Zoho's low price doesn't spell a trade-off in quality: every Zoho Books plan packs in the features. Even the cheapest plan includes all the accounting basics, like expense tracking and automatic bank reconciliation, plus Zoho-specific automations like automated workflows.

Info
Definition: Zoho Books' workflows
Automated workflows are customized, automatic system actions and alerts that help save you time on the most redundant tasks. For instance, a workflow could notify a manager when a sales rep makes a sale greater than a given amount. It could also automatically transfer that customer's file to said manager without anyone having to lift a finger. The setup is unique to your business, and Zoho's handy guides can help you create the right workflows for your needs.

In addition to automated workflows, every Zoho plan has automated recurring invoicing, expenses, and payment reminders—features that cost extra with competitors like FreshBooks.

Zoho Books cons

Zoho’s cloud-based accounting software has one major flaw that makes it hard to recommend to businesses with employees. Apart from Texas and California, Zoho doesn't offer payroll integration in the United States. With Zoho Books, you'll have to manually enter your payroll data into your accounting software every payday, which works against Zoho Books' time-saving automation in a big way. So if you manage employees, we recommend you look to a competitor like Xero or Wave instead.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Zoho Books plans and pricing

Basic

The Basic plan, starting at $9 a month, allows you to bill up to 50 clients. On top of the basic accounting features you should expect with any accounting provider (expense tracking, bank reconciliation, and a solid mobile app), you get these Zoho perks:

  • A client portal for easy collaboration, invoicing, and online payment acceptance
  • Small-business budgeting help
  • Multi-currency acceptance and multi-language compatibility
  • Automated recurring invoices, expenses, and payment reminders

The Basic plan includes five automated workflows, which should be just right for businesses on the smaller side.

Standard

The Standard plan ups its price to $19 a month and its client list to 500. It also bundles in three users to the Basic plan's two users and doubles your workflows from five to ten. This is Zoho’s online accounting software we're talking about, so a pricier plan also gets you heftier automation. In particular, Standard adds recurring bill pay and purchase approval capabilities.

Best Small Business Accounting Software
Xero
Best overall
FreshBooks
Best invoicing
Quickbooks
Most user-friendly
Wave
Most affordable
Zoho Books
Best automation
Learn more about our top brands.
Pricetag
Price check: FreshBooks vs. Zoho Books

Like Zoho Books (and unlike QuickBooks), FreshBooks prices its plans by the number of customers your company bills each month. Also like Zoho Books, FreshBooks also lets you add extra users for a monthly fee. But on both counts, Zoho Books comes out ahead pricewise for similar features. For instance, FreshBooks' cheapest plan allows for only 5 billable clients—Zoho's allows for 50. And while FreshBooks charges $10 extra per user per month, Zoho Books' fee is just $2 per user per month.

Professional

The Professional plan, Zoho's priciest, costs $29 a month for 500+ billable customers. Most crucially, the plan adds inventory management, which is how businesses that sell products track those products, from salons selling hair dye kits to appliance repair shops selling parts. (If yours is a service-based business, like a law firm or massage studio, you likely don't have inventory to track and won't need this specific feature.)

But the increased customer list and inventory management are about the only difference you'll see between the Standard and Professional plans. And while Zoho Books' inventory management plan is fine, businesses that manage thousands of dollars worth of inventory each month will likely need a more robust inventory management system than Zoho can provide.

Zoho Books FAQ

Is Zoho Books better than QuickBooks?

QuickBooks and Zoho Books share some strengths, especially their user-friendly software, highly rated mobile apps, and extensive reporting. But in general, if you need accounting software that syncs easily with quality payroll services like Gusto and ADP, we recommend QuickBooks’s software over Zoho’s accounting solution. If you care more about affordability, automation, and collaboration, go with Zoho Books.

Remember, though, that it's hard to declare one accounting software better than the other: what's right for your company might not be best for someone else's. Take your unique needs into consideration before choosing one over the other, and don't be afraid to test-drive software before committing. Zoho Books has a 14-day free trial, and QuickBooks' lasts 30 days (note that testing QuickBooks for a month waives its offer of 50% off for 3 months).

How much does Zoho Books cost?

Zoho Books starts at $9 a month for two users. Additional users cost $2 per month (or $20 per year if you choose to pay annually instead).

What is the difference between Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books?

Zoho Invoice is an invoice- and billing-specific Zoho product. With it, you can send customized and recurring invoices, accept online payments, and track the time you spend on each project for more accurate customer billing. If you have five customers per month, you can use Zoho Invoice for free. Otherwise, plans start at $9 a month.

Like Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice is a quality software—it's one of our top five picks for the year's best billing and invoicing software. But if you need more than billing and invoicing, go with Zoho Books, which includes Zoho Invoice's features plus accounting.

In other words, if you're running a small freelancing business from home with just a few sales a month, Zoho Invoice's free plan might be enough. Otherwise, Zoho Books's accounting features make it a better pick.

What is Zoho One?

Zoho One is a business suite that packages multiple Zoho apps into one accessible CRM (customer relationship management) platform. Instead of subscribing to multiple businesses for different accounting products—say, Zoho Books for accounting, Hiveage for payments, and WordPress for site hosting—Zoho One gives you access to multiple Zoho apps that streamline business management from one accessible dashboard.

In the end, though, Zoho One still doesn't offer a simple payroll solution for businesses outside of India. So if you're running a US-based small business, our Zoho One review comes down to the same thing as our Zoho Books review: whether you're using just one app or the full spectrum of products, Zoho’s suite won't work for businesses with employees.

The takeaway

If you're tired of wasting time on manual data entry, we say give Zoho Books a spin. You won't struggle too much to get the hang of its snazzy features, and the low starting price helps sweeten the deal. But if payroll is a must for you (not to mention your dozens of employees), we have to be honest: until Zoho develops better payroll integration, you should choose different accounting software.

Not sold on our Zoho accounting review? Not to worry—Zoho Books isn't for everyone. You'll find a slew of other reviews on our list of the year's best bookkeeping software for small businesses.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
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