Zoho Invoice Review
It’s extremely rare (and refreshing) when a company cares more about its employees and business culture than about the money it generates. But that is exactly the attitude of Zoho CEO and founder Sridhar Vembu. As Vembu once said: “I don’t want to know my net worth. I don’t want to appear in any rich list. None of our founders drives a luxury car. We are happy with what we have.” And what Zoho has is a company of 3,500 employees that reaches over 20 million users throughout the entire world.
Zoho began in 1996 as AventNet. Vembu, along with his brothers, decided to return from their work and schooling in the US in order to create something meaningful back in their home country of India. In 2005, the network management company launched their first Zoho products, Zoho Writer and Zoho CRM. The company was renamed Zoho (an acronym of sorts for Small Office Home Office) in 2009 after the success of the Zoho Suite software. Now Zoho comprises over 30 different software options for small businesses, and the company can attribute much of its success to the business choices of Vembru, who has taken no outside capital from investors and has spent more money on engineering and improving the existing software than on marketing campaigns.
In 2008, Zoho created Zoho Invoice, a powerful invoicing software that has only gotten better over the years. Zoho Invoice features professional invoices, expenses, projects, time tracking and more. Although there are limited integrations and occasionally poor customer service, Zoho Invoice’s prices are hard to beat. Zoho Invoice offers a forever free plan in addition to three other pricing plans that provide an extremely impressive amount of features for a very reasonable cost. To find out if these features would benefit your company, continue reading.
You can sign up for Zoho Invoice for free, with no contract and no credit card information required. As I mentioned above, Zoho Invoice offers a forever free plan in addition to three other pricing options. Payments are made monthly on the paid plans; however, you can receive a discount (two months free service) if you commit to a year-long plan.
All plans include expenses, projects, time tracking, contact management, extensive reports, and a client portal.
- Unlimited invoicing for up to 5 customers
- One user
- $7/mo ($5.84/mo with discount)
- Unlimited invoicing for up to 50 customers
- One user
- Recurring invoicing and multi-currency capabilities
- $15/mo ($12.50/mo with discount)
- Unlimited invoicing for up to 500 customers
- Three users
- Recurring invoicing and multi-currency capabilities
- $30/mo ($20/mo with discount)
- Unlimited invoices and unlimited customers
- Unlimited users
- Recurring invoicing and multi-currency capabilities
Web-Hosted or Locally Installed:
Web-hosted. No installations or downloads required.
Hardware or Software Requirements:
Zoho Invoice is a cloud-based software, so all you need is the most recent version of your web-browser (Firefox or Chrome, ideally) and an internet connection. Good news for those of you with dinosaur computers like mine; my laptop runs on a much older version of iOS and the software still worked completely fine.
Zoho Invoice has one of the best mobile device offerings I have seen, with robust apps for iPhones/iPads (iOS 7+), Apple Watches, Androids (4.1+), Windows (10 or 8.1), and even Kindles.
Specific Size of Business:
Zoho Invoice can be a good fit for anything from small businesses to mid/large businesses. The forever free plan is particularly appropriate for freelancers and microbusinesses, but the scalability of the other pricing options (and the expanse of features that come with them) make the software a good option for many businesses.
It is worth noting, however, that if you are considering the Zoho Invoice Professional plan, it might be in your best interest to pass on Zoho Invoice altogether and check out Zoho Books instead. You’ll receive more features for the same price. Check out our full Zoho Books review here.
Ease of Use:
Zoho Invoice is incredibly intuitive and easy to use—so intuitive that the software’s slogan is “create and send an invoice in two minutes.” And unlike most claims of the sort, this one is mostly true.
- Setup – The setup process for Zoho Invoice is quick and painless. Just add a few facts about your business, choose a portal name, select a default invoice template, add your personal business logo, and you are ready to go in a matter of minutes. Zoho Invoice makes it easy to familiarize yourself with the software by providing videos to explain how each function works. While you can jump right into creating an invoice after the initial set-up, I recommend spending a good amount of time in the settings section. Go through each tab, even if you don’t think you need to, otherwise you may skip something important. There are many critical preferences to be set up that let you choose how much you want the software to do for you. You can enable retainer invoices, discounts, package slip settings, automatic estimate conversion, and sale taxes. Zoho Invoice also allows you to import preexisting information.
- Organization – The organization of Zoho Invoice is intuitive and easy to navigate. There are tabs on the left for Contacts, Items, Estimates, Invoices, Payments, Received, Recurring Invoices, Credit Notes, Expenses, Recurring Expenses, Timesheet, and Reports. If you hover over these tabs, there is a plus button that allows you to quickly create a new invoice, estimate, or item, etc. Everything is clearly labeled and exactly where you would expect to find it. If you are having trouble locating something, I recommend double-checking the settings menu to see if you need to enable a feature or adjust your preferences.
- Instructions and Guidance – If you can’t find what you’re looking or in the settings menu, there are many other tools that might help. There is a getting started video within the software itself. You can also request a personal software demo. In addition, there are weekly webinars and a collection of YouTube videos that demonstrate how to work the software. For more specific questions, there’s a Zoho Invoice Help Center and a FAQ section.
- Problems – For the most part, Zoho Invoice is incredibly easy to use. The company is constantly updating the software and fixing bugs or streamlining their interface. However, there are a few things I think Zoho still needs to address:
- Lack of Integrations – This is the biggest problem I have with the Zoho Invoice software. There are very few integrations, especially when compared to other invoicing and accounting software providers. I expected this to some extent; Zoho products tend to have fewer integrations with third-parties in general because there are so many integrations available with the company’s own 30+ software programs. However, even Zoho-based integrations for Invoice are limited to Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, Zoho Docs, and Zoho People.
- No P&L Report – For a software that offers over 25 reports, I was disappointed to see that a basic Profit and Loss Statement is not included. While this isn’t a deal breaker by any means, it does limit the project feature and makes it more difficult to get a full picture of your business’s financial state.
Zoho Invoice offers many basic invoicing staples as well as a few more unique features. Available features are generally easy to use and quite expansive compared to those of other software options, especially for the price. To see a full list of features, go here.
- Dashboard – In addition to the tabs listed earlier, the Zoho Invoice dashboard is made up of charts and graphs that help you keep up with your business. These include total receivables, sales and expenses, projects, top expenses, and sales and receipts.
- Invoicing – Zoho Invoice offers seven templates, and even tells you what each template is ideal for (i.e. for displaying a large logo, long lists of expenses, sending by snail mail, etc.). Each template can be customized with a personal logo, a customer note, and your business’s term and conditions. You can set up personalized reminders, late fees, and retainer invoices under the settings tab. Zoho Invoice tracks when a client has viewed an invoice within their client portal. Clients can pay directly online through a payment gateway, with cash, or by check. You can set discounts and as many sales taxes as you need. In addition, all paid plans support recurring invoices. And as a recent bonus, Zoho Invoice just added the option to schedule invoices to be created as a draft and sent at a later, scheduled date.
- Estimates – There are also seven estimate templates. Estimates are created in a similar fashion to invoices and can be converted into invoices easily. You can also track any changes your client makes to an estimate.
- Thank You Notes – Zoho Invoice will automatically create thank you notes for your clients.
- Expenses – Zoho Invoice allows you to record and track all expenses. You can add pictures of your receipts and generate detailed expense reports. There is also the option to create a recurring expense profile under the settings tab.
- Payments – Through Zoho Invoice, you can send automatic payment reminders and accept payments via nine different payment gateways. Clients can also pay with cash or check and opt to have their card information stored in the Client Portal and charged automatically. Zoho Invoice also supports credit notes and refunds.
- Projects – The projects feature allows you to create and track projects and tasks. You can add both billable and unbillable hours to projects, assign projects to clients, and allow your client to see the hours you’ve logged so far (this feature is optional). You also have the option to attach expenses to a project and create budgets for each project to track how you are doing financially. Furthermore, you can easily convert projects to invoices. One of the coolest things about this feature is that you can assign different projects and tasks to specific staff members and set user permissions with varying degrees of strictness for each staff member.
- Time Tracking – You and your staff can log billable and unbillable hours manually or with a built-in timer. This timer can be run either through a mobile app or via desktop software (I have only seen this feature in one other invoicing software company). Zoho Invoice will even automatically turn unbillable and billable hours into an invoice for your so you can bill your clients faster. You can also turn billable hours into a timesheet invoice yourself.
- Contacts – The contact settings are particularly well developed. You can save your client’s basic information (i.e. name, business, address, etc.), but you can also assign a specific currency, sales tax, and language to your client. If you want your contact to be able to access the client portal, make sure to check the box marked “allow portal access for this client.”
- Client Portal – Zoho Invoice’s Client Portal is well developed and easy to use. It allows you to share invoices, accept payments, and receive customer reviews directly from your client (the only other software I’ve seen that has this unique customer review option is FreshBooks). Clients can easily pay invoices and request estimate changes. You can also enable your client to view the billable and unbillable hours attached to their project so far.
- Inventory – I hesitate to actually call this an inventory feature as it is incredibly limited, but Zoho Invoice does include an items list. Here you can save information including the name, unit, rate, and description of a particular item.
- Packing Slips – This is one of the most unique features in Zoho Invoice. You can create packing slips with the following information: item, quantity, transaction number, description, shipping address, signature, balance due, and customer notes.
- Reports – Zoho Invoice offers 27 reports including Invoice Details, Customer Balances, Expense Details, and Project Summaries to name a few. Under setting, you can also request a weekly summary report to be sent to your email. If you are looking for more typical accounting and bookkeeping reports, like P&L statements, I recommend looking elsewhere.
- Sales Tax – Zoho Invoice has good sales tax support. You can set as many sales taxes (and sales exemptions) as needed and even assign a specific tax default to a contact. Zoho Invoice also integrates with Avalara, a sales tax solution that automatically calculates sales tax.
- Multi-Currency – Not only does Zoho Invoice offer strong multi-currency capabilities, it also supports over 10 different languages. You can assign a default currency to clients under the contacts tab.
- Open API – Zoho Invoice offers open API for developers.
Customer Service and Support:
Generally, customer service is a weak area with Zoho Products. So while I went into this review expecting poor customer service, I was pleasantly surprised to find that customer service seems to have improved since our last review (though it is still far from perfect).
Zoho Invoice offers customer support 24-hours a day, Monday through Friday. The support members I was able to speak with were friendly and helpful. However, I had a hard time getting through to phone representatives in the first place (and sometimes when I did get through their accents were thick and hard to distinguish, though this was not always the case). On one of the occasions I called, all of the support lines were busy and I was asked to leave a voicemail. Another time, I wasn’t able to speak with a human being because the line wouldn’t register the fact that I had hit the extension button for Zoho Invoice. Fortunately, I had better luck with emails and received responses in less than a day. Here’s a list of Zoho Invoice’s support options:
- Phone – US users can reach Zoho at +1 (888) 900-9694. UK users can call +44 (20) 35647890, and Australian users can get the company at +61-2-80662898.
- Email – Contact Zoho Invoice at email@example.com.
- Help Center – Zoho Invoice has an extensive Help Center with a “welcome to Zoho Invoice” guide and how-to articles that cover everything. (These articles are categorized under Dashboard, Settings, Contacts, Invoice, Items & Price Lists, Estimates, Retainer Invoices, Recurring Invoices, Credit Notes, Expenses, Timesheet, Client Portal, Import & Export, US Sales Tax, Integrations, and Australia Tax.) There is a search bar for quick look up and articles are fairly helpful with detailed explanations and visuals. These articles have recently been revised with more up-to-date information and far fewer editing errors.
- FAQ Section – There is also a detailed FAQ section that is similarly categorized.
- Webinar – As mentioned above, Zoho Invoice has webinars that run weekly.
- YouTube – Zoho Invoice’s YouTube channel features some Webinar demonstrations if you want quick access to them. There are also instructional videos there that teach you how to use each feature in Zoho Invoice.
- Blog – The Zoho Invoice blog features software updates, business tips, and other small business resources that companies may find helpful. There is an estimated read-time with each article, which is a nice touch.
- Page Tips – Within the invoicing software, a button in the top right corner acts as a sort of FAQ/guide, which provides you with tips for whichever page you are on.
- Social Media – Zoho has a Facebook Page, but it is not specialized to Zoho Invoice. In addition, Zoho Invoice has a Twitter account, though the activity is very dated. I’d suggest sticking to other avenues of customer service if you have a question or concern.
- Feature Suggestion – There is a feature suggestion area where users can voice new Zoho Invoice ideas. Other users can vote on the suggestions they like best. Proposed features are then marked as works in progress, planned, or released, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many suggestions Zoho was taking to heart (the most recent being an Office365 integration which allows users to import contacts and users).
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Most complaints regarding Zoho Invoice are about very minor feature suggestions. However, a few complaints show up again and again.
- Poor Customer Service – Several customers report poor customer service. They complain that response times are slow and that reaching a representative through phone is difficult. A few also mention that there is an occasional language barrier with their customer service representatives, though this is not always the case.
- No Offline Option – Several users wish there was offline access to their information and/or a way to work the invoicing software when they don’t have internet access. Although, in Zoho Invoice’s defense, it is a cloud-based service, so what do people expect?
- Lack of Integrations – Around the board, this is the biggest complaint about Zoho Invoice. Lack of integrations is a big drawback for many, and it is hard for me to see this changing in the near future.
It is worth noting that Zoho does a good job of responding to customer reviews and complaints, and does what they can to set things right.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
- Easy to Use – Many love that Zoho Invoice is easy to use and understand. They enjoy the quick set up and the time they save by not having to learn a complicated software.
- Powerful Mobile Apps – This is one of the most common praises of Zoho Invoice. Users like the breadth of the app’s functions and the mobility it gives their company. Some users especially like that they can run their business from their iPad or Kindle.
- Professional Invoices – Users think Zoho Invoice lives up to its name in this area and praise the invoices for looking professional. Almost across the board, people consider these invoices a good value for the money and believe the invoicing software is reasonably priced.
- Friendly Customer Service – Although some users report poor customer service, there are those who find the customer service to be friendly and helpful.
- Good International Options – A few people mention the fact that the international currency and language options really help their business.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
As mentioned above, Zoho Invoice’s integrations are very limited, especially compared to other invoicing and accounting software companies. Zoho Invoice integrates with four other Zoho Suite products, nine payment gateways, and 10 other add-ons (most of these are document-related, like GoogleDrive and Dropbox). However, there are still a few notable add-ons that could be beneficial for your business.
- Zoho CRM – Strong customer management tool that features sales tracking, inventory management, and more. Read our full review here.
- Zoho Projects – A project management tool that offers time tracking, bug tracking, file management, and chat communication. Read our full review here.
- Zoho People – Takes care of managing the Human Resource side of business.
- Zoho Docs – A file storage solution that can be accessed anywhere.
- PayPal – Accept online payments and enable electronic payment of invoices. Read our full review here.
- WePay – Accept payments through personal merchant account. Exclusive low transaction fee offer available until November 11, 2016.
- Stripe – Process and accept credit card payments. Read our full review here.
- Postal Methods – A “web-to-post gateway” that conveniently send invoices and estimates for you via mail. Additional postage costs.
- Slack – A powerful communication platform for business teams. (Here at Merchant Maverick we’re a little partial to Slack, since it’s our team’s main means of communication.)
- Avalara – Automated sales tax solution that automatically calculates sales tax from a customer’s address.
Zoho uses 256-bit SSL encryption and their multiple data centers are housed in undisclosed locations. Virus scans and intrusion detection/prevention programs are run regularly. Zoho Invoice operates on multiple servers as a precautionary measure to avoid crashes (like the one they experienced in 2012). You can also add Two Factor Authorization to your account for added security. In addition, physical security measures include security guards, video monitoring, bullet-proof walls, and more. Read here to learn more about Zoho’s security.
The first time I reviewed Zoho Invoice, I was underwhelmed by how basic the invoice templates were and disappointed by the lack of customizability. However, my opinion of the software has now changed for the better. I had the honor of beta testing a few great new features for Zoho Invoice and am most excited about the fact that a new HTML customizable template is under way. (Before you’re scared away by the idea of HTLM, let me just say that this function is incredibly intuitive – so intuitive anyone can use it, regardless of past coding experience.)
Although lack of integrations and the occasional poor customer service could still be a problem for some users, Zoho Invoice is a wonderful option for businesses needing strong invoicing, expense, and time tracking features. Unique touches like an in-app timer and packing slips make the software even more functional and easy to use. This software’s prices are a huge plus, although the company has downgraded slightly (the free plan used to be much more competitive with 25 customers instead of five). If you want to find out more or test Zoho Invoice for yourself, play around with the program on the forever free plan for a bit. And keep an eye out for upcoming new features. There might even be a few other new surprises coming your way soon…