by Jonathan Garro
Published on 30 October 2013
Shoeboxed Review - Scan or mail your receipts to create a searchable database
Keeping a meticulous record of your receipts is an essential part of good accounting practices, but with the daily barrage of receipts that a business typically takes in, that can be difficult to accomplish. Shoeboxed helps you save important receipts and make them easily searchable by digitizing and saving them into the cloud. Integrations with some of the most popular business applications help you harness the information stored in your massive collection of receipts in order to better organize your business and simplify your life.
In this Shoeboxed review, I will be examining the process of saving a receipt in the app, and exploring some of the ways that you can connect your account to other popular business apps.
What does it mean to aggregate all of your receipts in the cloud? Shoeboxed offers users a variety of ways to digitally store receipts by scanning them with a smartphone app, emailing them to your account, physically mailing them with Shoeboxed's prepaid envelopes, or uploading them with a browser. Once they get saved, you will have your own powerful database of receipts that can be searched and integrated with other services, such as tax preparation software or business accounting tools.
Upon logging in, you will be brought to the dashboard. Here, you are presented with a quick overview of several aspects of the Shoeboxed service. You can add a document and see alerts that require your attention. Across the top of the window, navigation is split into three main links: Receipts, business cards, and other documents. For each other these categories, you have a great deal of control over what you see with robust filtering. These filters can be selected based on date ranges, categories, payment types, envelopes, and whether or not you have viewed the entry.
Selecting an individual receipt brings up the scanned document. The Shoeboxed server is capable of automatically culling plenty of data from the document, and I had generally good experiences with that feature. The service almost always recognized the receipt total, date of the transaction, and more. The single receipt view popup shows the vendor, date, total, tax, shipping, payment type and currency.
If anything was not automatically pulled out of the receipt, you can manually enter it, along with what category you would like to place the receipt in. There are several options that cover most types of transactions, but you can also create your own. Business card scanning works essentially the same way, as the service scans the document and pulls out contact information, as well as anything else on the card, such as business name, email address, and more.
Where Shoeboxed shines is in its flexibility. Simply backing up your receipts and making all of that information easily searchable does, in itself, offer tremendous value. However, being able integrate with other services makes Shoeboxed much more than a simple database.
Integrations can be viewed and adjusted in the account settings pane. The list of available services is impressive, including:
Rather than cover all of these, I decided to connect my account to popular accounting app Xero to see how the integration works. By connecting to Xero, the app allows you to include payable invoices in your Xero account. This helps you better understand your financial position by seeing a single number for money spent via Shoeboxed receipts and payable invoices from Xero. Shoeboxed will also now display all of your accounting categories.
The integration also works in the other direction, as you can export receipts out to Xero. I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of control you have over this process. You can either do a full export that sends your entire database to Xero, or you can be more selective. As many users will likely want to mix business and personal receipts, being able to selectively sync becomes incredibly important. Furthermore, in order to avoid duplicates, Shoeboxed remembers what you have exported to Xero and allows you to only send new receipts. You can specify a range of dates or certain categories to further organize the exporting process. In my use, the export function worked quickly and accurately, and would be a must-use integration.
One of the simplest, yet most useful, integrations involves Google Contacts. If you decide to use Shoeboxed to store the hundreds of business cards you might collect, you can set up the app to automatically save the contact information from scanned cards to your Google account. I also tried connecting Shoeboxed to Evernote. This integration requires the same basic account permissions as Xero, and once you associate your Evernote account with Shoeboxed, the relationship is seamless. You are given the opportunity to manually export receipts to Evernote on the individual entry popup, or you can specify a notebook within Evernote to automatically catch all of your receipts. Evernote offers great desktop and mobile apps, and boasts the ability to make any scanned text searchable, which makes the connection wonderful.
Shoeboxed offers a four-tier pricing structure with accounts ranging from Lite to Executive. Each successive package speeds up processing time and adds to the total number of users who have access to the account and the number of documents you can send.
Stepping up to the second tier gives you Quickbooks access, as well as the prepaid envelope option for sending receipts to Shoeboxed, (otherwise you must use your own envelopes and postage). The top tier also adds premium tax advice. The lite, classic, business and executive tiers go for $10, $30, $50 and $100 per month, respectively, with discounts for annual plans.
Despite being a service that focuses so heavily on just one concept, we have seen in this Shoeboxed review that it is actually quite fully-featured. Even if you only use it to store your receipts, Shoeboxed pays for itself several times over for both the organization and peace of mind of having all your transactions stored in the cloud. However, integration with popular apps makes Shoeboxed even more useful.
For all of its appeal, I did experience a couple of performance issues. Uploading a PDF of a receipt seemed to take far too long to process and be made available. If you are using Shoeboxed as an archive, this likely will not pose a problem for you, but if you want to be able to use a scanned receipt immediately, the delay will cause problems. Your experience may vary, but it took some time for me to be able to access scanned receipts.