Apps, add-ons, integrations, these are all words you will hear a lot these days. They’re everywhere now; phones, televisions even accounts software!

What are they? Well, in a nut shell they’re tools that allow you to do things more efficiently (in this instance run a business), as well as tailor software to make it truly bespoke.

My preferred choice on finding apps is to go to the Xero app marketplace as these all integrate automatically with Xero. From here you can search for app function whether it’s HR, job costing, time management or many more. You can also search by industry, which is particularly useful if you don’t really understand what you are looking for.

Let’s go straight in there with some of the essentials. Receipt bank / Gocardless / Stripe / Chaser and Square. This is what I call an app stack and what a stack it is! Let me explain some of the key features and benefits and if you want to know more feel free to get in touch.

Receipt bank is a purchase invoices scanning tool. All invoices are accepted by HMRC as evidence and Receipt bank store them for the required length of time. All you have do is take a picture of the invoice making sure you include supplier name, date and amount. Then you see this amount in Xero waiting to be paid. Literally that easy.

If you want to take things to the next level then you can forward email invoices, ask your supplier to CC the email address in, or use Fetch – log into your supplier account (say EE for example) and each time an invoice is created it ends up in Xero without even lifting a finger.

Receipt bank is suitable for any size business that spends a lot of time manually inputting purchase invoice information.

The next apps in the stack are GoCarldless and Stripe. Both of these are payment facilities that link directly with your Xero invoices by adding a payment button.

GoCardless  is designed for Direct Debit collection. Gone are the days of not having this facility without a substantial amount of cash behind you. Even better, the fees are 1% capped at £2 per invoice. All you need to do is tap into the repeating invoice feature in Xero, set up a template to raise a sales invoices as frequently as you want, the invoice gets sent and the money gets collected.

Stripe is designed for people to pay by credit cards or apple pay. The main benefit with this is people can pay by card without having to take up time from your team ringing them and paying extortionate card not present fees.

The whole process for the payment facilities are slick for both the customer and your accounts department. The paid invoices are actually marked as received in Xero automatically so you don’t accidentally chase customers who have paid.

GoCardless and Stripe are suited to customers who use Xero to send emails and are wanting to invoice regularly, have trouble collecting money or are paying too much for the current card terminal fees.

Chaser is an automated invoice chasing tool where everything can be customised from the time emails are sent, who they come from, who they are sent to and how severe the wording is. There are some interesting statistics around the amount of time this saves businesses and how much your bank balance is boosted in month one. An average saving is 7.3 hours per week on credit control, an average reduction of 16 debtor days and a £4.4k cashflow boost for every £100k turnover. Imagine the impact when this is linked with a payment facility like Stripe or Gocardless allowing customer to pay quicker and reconciling the reporting behind it!

If you would like the ability to do credit checks against your potential customers then linking the accounts with an add on such as Satago can provide this functionality for free!

Square is a point of sale system and my absolute favourite for the reporting functionality. This system runs from a tablet or phone and can be programmed with all sales items. Two of the ways it is being used are in a salon and in a sushi restaurant. The salon is using the app to split the income between Hair and Beauty beautifully to see the performance on a daily basis between products, service lines and how each employee is performing. The results are in real time and each employee has a unique log in so there is no fear of getting the wrong person.

The sushi restaurant has various options and sub options. This system is so easy to use and make changes to a standard option – a bit like asking for a big mac with no mayo and an extra burger, this can be done quickly and easily. It also has the ability to print off order tickets so they can serve the next customer while keeping track of the orders they freshly make. It handles VAT superbly by allowing the setup of various options such as adding vat to a sit in option or a meal deal and disregarding it where necessary.

What I like most about Square is the reporting element. It does link to Xero, which gives a sales figure but as a business owner you really want to get more than a total. Some of the reports it gives you access to include;

Time of day sales (see when you are busiest)

Employee sales

Average spend per customer

Returning customers

Who has not been in a while

Most popular items and

Instant feedback from electronic receipts (SMS or email).


The best part about all of this…it is free! You only pay for the transactions you process via their card reader at a rate of 1.75%, which is very often cheaper than the terminal rental. Speak to me and we can work out if it’s worthwhile.

Just before I move onto other apps, it’s worth noting that this also allows discounts, tips, e-giftcards and by using something like Weebly, or WooCommerce  you can easily open an eCommerce site to become an online retailer with live stock levels.


Now, I am going to discuss some of the other key apps that are industry specific.

Construction, projects and field service

Simpro this does more than you can imagine. It is a one stop shop if you work in construction providing quotes, field management tracking, job costing reporting, invoicing and much more.

Workflow max – great programme with plans to get better soon. I originally seen it as part of an accounts practice software to record time and measure profitability. It is scale-able and flexible and is a really good solution for most businesses.

Tradify – this is a cheaper option and still does most of the functions that some of the larger ones do but if you plan on growing it is likely that you will need to upgrade again.

Stock control and manufacturing

Unleashed – this is a powerful app that works well and supports multi currency and multi location too.

Cin7 – this can handle multi location and multi-currency. It is flexible and can be accessed from most devices with the ability to print bar codes quickly and easily.

Point of Sale

You have other contenders to Square in this category including Izettle and Sum up – both of which offer a Free POS and card readers. The rates are between 1.4 and 1.75% depending on volume so for a cost-conscious sole trader who just wants a facility to take money these are perfect!

I am going to leave it here, but if you have seen anything that sparks your interest that you think could help boost your efficiency or help you grow please get in touch with me, Nick Wilson, cloud client manager.