What is Xero?
Xero is a moderately advanced accounting software that’s ideal for small and medium businesses within any industry. Because Xero is popular with accountants and bookkeepers while remaining user-friendly for business owners, the software is ideal for all parties. We recommend Xero to all businesses due to its ease of use, extensive third-party application marketplace, and powerful accounting features.
Table of Contents
- What is Xero?
- Xero Review Summary
- Xero Pricing & Cost
- Xero Features
- Xero Customer Support
- Xero vs. Competitors
- Is Xero Right For You?
Xero Review Summary
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software that was founded in 2006 and is currently headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand. With over 2.4 million customers globally, Xero is one of the most popular accounting software companies in the world. Xero’s target audience is small and medium businesses, though they’ve recently begun emphasizing their scalability for larger businesses.
Xero has all the features required to manage small and medium sized businesses across many different industries. With Xero, you can connect bank accounts, accept payments online, send invoices directly to customers, keep financials up to date, track your company’s inventory, and more. If there’s something you need that Xero doesn’t directly offer, you will almost certainly find a third-party solution in Xero’s extensive Marketplace.
Xero pricing begins at $11 per month and goes up to $62 per month. There are three plans to choose from, making for a relatively flexible pricing structure. An added bonus is that Xero doesn’t put user limits on the plans, so you can have as many people using the software as you need. Customers can also add payroll with Gusto starting at $39 per month.
We interviewed professional bookkeepers who utilize Xero for their bookkeeping and financial services, and they had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the software. Graham Davies, the founder of Addition Finance, utilizes Xero and finds it flexible, scalable, and valuable due to its open API and wide range of third-party software application integrations. Graham noted that the platform works well to manage finances for companies across a range of industries, from startups to medium-sized businesses.
All in all, Xero is one of the best accounting software tools on the market. Whether you’re a small service-based business or a medium-sized business with high transaction volume, you can make the platform work for your business.
Xero Pricing & Cost
Xero pricing begins at $11 per month and costs up to $62 per month for the most advanced plan. Xero makes recommendations about which plan will be best for you based on your company’s size and growth.
|Early Plan||$11 per month|
|Growing Plan||$32 per month|
|Established Plan||$62 per month|
Xero Key Features
This review discusses the features offered by Xero. We’ll make note of the software’s usability, market value, customer service, and more. Throughout, we’ll also include real images of the software so you can see what it’s like to use Xero.
Xero’s dashboard provides a helpful, simple-to-digest overview of your company’s finances. The initial setup for the dashboard will show your cash flow, invoices owed to your business, account overview, bills to be paid, and more. This section is also customizable, so you can drag and drop different sections of your dashboard to choose what shows up first. This customization is characteristic of Xero, as it’s one of the most heavily customizable software accounting tools on the market.
The dashboard lets you drill down into any section or line item, which will take you to that part of the software and give a more in-depth overview. While not the most aesthetically pleasing dashboard across accounting tools, it provides a practical, straightforward overview of your business.
Xero’s Sales tabs, within the "Business" section of the software, encompass outgoing invoices and your company’s inventory. While invoices take a bit more work to set up than with simpler tools like FreshBooks and Wave, it’s still exceedingly easy to create and send professional invoices to your clients.
Xero’s invoicing feature is straightforward, and customers are pleased with its ease of use. There are also many more nuances to Xero’s invoicing features than some more basic competitors offer. For example, each invoice has a history that tells you the dates the invoices were created, edited, sent to customers, and viewed by the customer. This feature is helpful so you can track whether clients have successfully received their invoices.
When you send invoices to clients, you can choose to attach the file as a PDF. The clients will receive invoices as emails and will click a link that takes them to a dashboard with a view of the invoice.
Here is a list of additional actions you can take regarding invoices:
- Add payment options
- Preview on desktop and mobile
- Repeat invoices
- Send payment reminders
- Attach notes and files
- Import or export invoices
Products & Services
Because not every accounting software tool offers inventory management, it’s notable that Xero offers inventory management with moderate specifications. Those with product-based businesses would definitely benefit from Xero, while those who have service-based businesses may not need the inventory management feature but can still track output of their services.
Adding your company’s products and services will make it even easier to create invoices and send them within mere seconds. Additionally, inventory management is going to be essential if you have a product-based business. This will allow you to keep a close eye on your inventory, ensure that you assign items to the proper sales or expense accounts, and more.
Xero offers fewer payment options than a few similarly advanced competitors, but includes the basics that most accounting tools offer. With Xero, you can accept credit card payments through Stripe, which charges 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction. You’ll also be able to accept payment via bank transfer or PayPal, and can connect any of your existing payment gateways through Xero’s open API.
The expenses section within Xero will allow you to manage your bills, purchase orders, and employee expense claim tracking, which includes a receipt analysis feature. They’re visually set up much like the Sales section, so all bills are ordered in a list view so you can see each due date, who you owe money to, and more.
While most accounting software tools allow you to attach photos of your expenses for proof of purchase, not every software will pull and enter data directly from the receipt. If your company has employees who need to expense items, this section will certainly come in handy and help keep track of not just your company’s expenses, but expenses by person.
Accounting & Reports
There are a large number of reports that Xero allows you to pull about your business. In total, there are about 50 included reports across categories like inventory, sales, financial reports, and tax reports.
Unfortunately, when we tested Xero’s reporting section both in our own account and in the demo company account, some reports did not generate. We tested both Safari and Google Chrome, and the issue persisted on both browsers. However, customers we spoke with did not have this complaint, so it’s possible that it was an isolated issue.
One of Xero’s most robust offerings is their App Marketplace, which allows customers to seamlessly integrate Xero with an incredible variety of third-party apps across the following categories:
- Time Tracking
- Financial Services
There are many more categories available. Xero also helpfully categorizes tools that are relevant for certain industries like health, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and more.
A brief table of additional features offered by Xero is provided below.
|Payroll (Gusto)||With Gusto, a third-party payroll tool, you can manage your employees’ payroll. You’ll get the first 2 months free when you sync your Gusto account with Xero.|
|Hubdoc||Hubdoc, which was acquired by Xero, enables the receipt capture and data entry abilities within Xero. You’ll also be able to automatically categorize transactions that you can match to your bank account.|
|Manage Projects||Set up projects to track time spent and products acquired for your clients’ projects. This feature allows you to track the profitability of projects by showing your profit margin and other reports.|
Xero Customer Support
The Xero customer support team is not quite as available as support teams from other companies, largely because the website does not offer a live chat function. However, there are many self-help options available, including videos embedded into the dashboard to walk you through how to use the software. A great resource is Xero Central, a platform where customers can discuss accounting and the software with other customers, bookkeepers, and accountants.
|Customer Support Channels||Email, Phone|
|In-App Support Channels||How-To Videos, Help Center access|
|Other Support Resources||Xero Central, Blog, YouTube Channel|
|Application Status Page||Yes|
Xero Alternatives & Competitors
In terms of power, Xero is similar to, but slightly less powerful, than QuickBooks and Zoho Books. Xero’s accessibility and ease of use makes it similar to Wave and FreshBooks, though it’s significantly more advanced than those two.
The top Xero competitors are:
To read one-to-one comparisons of software tools, check out the following:
Is Xero Right For You?
Xero is an advanced yet affordable accounting software that’s ideal for small to medium established businesses. It’s more advanced than Wave and FreshBooks, which are best suited for freelancers or teams of up to five. In comparison, Xero has far more advanced inventory management features, allows for more customization of the dashboard and reports, and has an extensive list of third-party applications in the Xero Marketplace.
Bookkeepers and small business owners alike that we interviewed agreed that the tool is on par with QuickBooks Online, because it’s a bit less advanced but is much more user-friendly for the average business owner.
We broadly recommend Xero for those who want a solid, reliable accounting software tool that won’t break the bank. We suggest that all businesses, except for freelancers, opt for the Established Plan for the most functionality and best value.
If you are interested in trying Xero, sign up for a 30-day free trial.