As many business owners know only too well; there is a multitude of administrative tasks required to manage a business from statutory reporting to managing the accounts and HR functions to looking after cashflow. All of which although necessary can be very time consuming. It is especially important for a business to stay on top of the Accounts Receivable or debt collection process to ensure a healthy cash flow; vital for business health.
Rather than maintaining internal systems and processes, many businesses have elected to use solutions from external providers. Amongst many, these include:
- Debtor Daddy
- SMS My Debtors
Each of these have varying functionality, integrate to some or all of the most popular cloud accounting software solutions in Australia and have proved effective for small businesses.
However running an accounting solution in a cloud environment provides opportunities for a more proactive approach to assisting customers to pay on time. They include:
- Providing options for online payment of invoices directly from the invoice.
- Tracking of customer actions on the invoice – e.g. have they opened the email etc.
If customers are provided with easy payment options, not only may it not be necessary to use a collection solution such as one of those listed above, but the customer may even pay early with positive effects on business cashflow. If this is all managed by the accounting software with minimal manual intervention then there truly is a win-win situation.
In addition to creating Accounts Receivable invoices which are paid at a later date, many businesses create invoices that are paid either in advance of receiving the goods and/or services – e.g. internet sales; or at the time of sale at a shop/restaurant or as the result of an on site visit by a sales/trades person. Invoicing in this way has a different set of challenges – the service provider needs to provide flexible payment options as well as requiring the transactions to integrate into their accounting software.
I looked at the six cloud accounting software solutions that I am currently tracking to see what each offered in relation to the above opportunities. Software providers often issue a press release or post a blog outlining new features when they are delivered, this tends to be somewhat adhoc. This blog post endeavours to understand what each provider does deliver and how it compares to other cloud accounting software solutions.
Xero – has some comprehensive functionality. There are easy to follow prompts to add a payment service to an invoice – this can be different for each invoice style (or branding themes) meaning you can use a different option for different customers. Available payment services are Authorize.Net, DPS, eWAY, GoCardless, PayPal and Stripe, or if the business needs something different up a custom URL can be set up to link to other websites.
When the invoice is emailed to the customer and viewed online the customer simply needs to press the Payment button to open up a secure payment processing screen.
In addition to this Xero has the option to either attach the invoice to the email or include a link that the customer can click to open up the invoice to circumvent potential issues on servers that strip out pdf attachments.
Last year Xero also provided functionality to automate the reminder process for those customers that didn’t make use of the Pay Now button on the invoice and hadn’t paid their invoice. This is the only product to make the reminders completely automatic.
Potentially these two features could replace many of the features in the third party solutions noted above and definitely lives up to the Xero claim ‘Beautiful Accounting Software’.
There are a myriad of POS applications that will integrate into Xero – each with its own payment options.
QBO – Has an app ‘Accept Payments with PayPal’ so that invoices can be sent from QBO with a ‘Pay Now’ button enabling the customer to click on the button and make instant online payments via Credit Card, Debit Card or bank transfers using their PayPal account.
For POS type invoicing Intuit has developed a strategic relationship with Square and the recent launch of Square Reader in Australia means business owners can now accept card payments using the reader. Intuit’s sync with Square app enables Square sales invoices, GST, tips, and discounts to be automatically imported daily into QuickBooks Online. (The Square integration and card reader also works with Xero).
Sage One – has Sage Pay Online Payments via eWAY which requires payment with a credit card. Sage One has a customer portal – the Sage One Accounting Customer Zone that allows customers to view their invoices and make payments online by clicking a link in their email. Depending on settings, a customer can also view their history through the portal. The Pay Now button on the invoice – takes the customer to Sage Pay.
Sage One does not have a direct POS system although third party options can be integrated using One Saas
MYOB Essentials does provide invoice tracking so that once the user has set up to use online invoices, whenever an email is sent to the customer, they’ll receive a link to view their invoice online. There is an options to send a pdf as well with the invoice but there is no Pay Now or equivalent button on the invoice enabling direct payment from the invoice.
MYOB has a POS solution which will integrate into MYOB Essentials; the OnTheGo app provides mobile invoicing and contact management and the PayDirect app enables businesses to take credit card payments using a smartphone connected to a card reader using Bluetooth.
Saasu enables online payment of customer invoices direct from within Saasu using Braintree, eWAY, Stripe and Westpac’s PayWay. The customer receives a receipt and the payment is instantly reconciled in Saasu.
Saasu also supports the integration of several POS and E-Commerce third party solutions that will integrate into Saasu and have their own in built payment options.
Reckon One is somewhat lacking in automated functions to support customer payments as it does not have a Pay Now or equivalent feature. It also does it currently have any integration with a POS system so there is plenty of opportunities for enhancement here. I will be attending their Accredited Partner Conference next weekend and possibly some features may be revealed there.
Overall there are some strong capabilities within the cloud accounting software solutions that business owners can easily use to help their customers pay on time, reduce the incidence of late payment and costly follow ups and improve the cash flow of the business.