The cloud accounting market is crowded and it can be hard to find straight answers: “Oh, it depends – how long is a piece of string?” Not helpful.
So, with that in mind, here’s our honest, straightforward view on the best systems for retail and hospitality businesses.
First, let’s narrow the field a bit.
There are four serious contenders in our view:
They’ve all got their pros and cons – we’ll get into that in a moment – but we’ll say upfront that, overall, we’re fans of QuickBooks.
If you say to us, “I don’t mind, whatever you think is best,” this is probably what you’ll end up with.
It offers great value and has the robust quality you’d expect from an established parent company like US software firm Intuit.
We find it a pleasure to use, both from a technical accounting perspective and when we’re using the dashboard view on a laptop in a layby somewhere, on the phone with a client who wants an urgent answer to a question about their accounts.
For most high street businesses of the type we specialise in working with – convenience stores, restaurants, pharmacies – it has just enough features without being overwhelming.
We love Xero, too
Now, having said that about QuickBooks, we can get pretty enthusiastic about Xero, too.
It’s got a cult following and people who love it really love it (hat, T-shirt, stickers on the laptop, all that) but, frankly, there’s a good reason – it is an excellent bit of software.
Where Xero scores highly is in ease of use. Unlike other products on the market, which have evolved from old-school desktop PC software, it was designed for cloud accounting from day one – and it shows.
It’s packed with sophisticated features and they’re wrapped up in a bright, clean interface that provides only as much information as you need at any moment. It’s definitely designed with non-accountants in mind and especially people running SMEs.
Xero is more expensive than QuickBooks for comparable tiers but is arguably better for smaller, less complex businesses earlier on the path to growth.
There are also some very cool add-ons and plugins that make it super adaptable as your business evolves.
Or it might just come down to preference: if you’ve had a play with both QuickBooks and Xero and just feel more comfortable with Xero, that’s as good a reason to choose it as any.
Sage, if you want to buy British
There’s a reason Sage comes third on our list: it’s a decent bit of software, but it falls short in terms of both features and useability. We like working with it, but we don’t recommend it as often as the two big guns.
It’s really designed more for accountants rather than for SME owners.
If your business is bigger and better established, has more complex accounts and at least some sort of in-house financial expertise, such as an accounts manager or finance director, Sage might work for you.
Receipt Bank does one thing brilliantly
Finally, there’s Receipt Bank, which is a bit different to the packages above because it’s not general accounting software.
It’s designed to do one thing really well: allow you to scan your receipts, usually with your phone camera, and convert them into digital records.
QuickBooks, Xero and Sage all have their own built-in receipt scanning functions but Receipt Bank is the best in the game for this function.
The good news is, it integrates easily with the other packages listed above, giving them an instant capability boost.
Let’s get you sorted out with cloud accounting today – get in touch.