The best accounting software for a retail business is FreshBooks. It has the best potential for ecommerce integrations, works very well with accounts payable and receivable, and has a lot of options for financial reporting. Not to mention, its pricing is very competitive.
No business is complete without its necessary accounting actions. Whether that's a dedicated accounting department, or the business owner going over the records at the end of the month, it always needs to be done.
But it's a crowded market, so we're summing up eight of the best accounting software and how they can help a retail business keep tabs on their finances.
Score for retail industry
BEST FOR RETAIL
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Best Retail Accounting Software
While there are many accounting software platforms out there, these are the platforms we consider to be the best for retail accounting.
Our top three contenders are FreshBooks, Xero, and QuickBooks, all of which are great accounting software options in general, but definitely shine in a retail context, as their inventory management, robust ecommerce integrations, and competitive pricing make them an enticing prospect for any retail-heavy business.
- FreshBooks – Best overall retail accounting software
- Xero – Best for brick and mortar stores
- QuickBooks – Best for multiple tiers
- Sage – Best for affordable pricing
- Zoho – Best general accounting software
- FreeAgent – Best single-tiered accounting software
- Wave – Best free accounting software
- Kashoo – Best last resort
FreshBooks for Retail
FreshBooks is our number one pick for retail accounting. It's a great low-cost option for ecommerce businesses.
Why Is FreshBooks Good for Retail?
Two pivotal inclusions are inventory management on its lowest tier, and the ability to integrate with our top rated ecommerce builders, including but not limited to Shopify, Big Commerce, and Squarespace.
FreshBooks' biggest letdown is its lack of integration with any EPOS systems. This would give it additional appeal to brick and mortar stores, as opposed to leaning heavily toward ecommerce businesses.
FreshBooks has four paid tiers, one of which is a custom plan, wherein the price is based on the features you choose. Otherwise, you can choose the Lite plan ($17 per month), the Plus plan ($30 per month), and the Premium plan ($55 per month).
While the only difference between the lower two tiers comes in the form of increased client limits and automatic bank reconciliation, the difference between the Premium and Plus tiers is significant, with the Premium tier including various accounts payable and project accounting options, like project profitability and multi-currency payment.
- Great profit and loss comparisons
- Easy import and export for data
- Automated invoicing
- 30-day free trial
- The $10/user upcharge adds up fast
- No native support for payroll processing
Xero for Retail
As opposed to FreshBooks' great fit for online stores, Xero’s combination of features and integrations makes it an ideal choice for brick and mortar stores.
Why Is Xero Good for Retail?
It can integrate with some of the best EPOS systems out there, like Vend, Square, and Revel. It also provides inventory management on its lowest tier, which is very rare and can be a huge help, making the low tier very appealing for a business with a lot of inventory. Almost as a mirror image of FreshBooks, Xero could have done more to integrate with ecommerce options as opposed to real life brick-and-mortar stores.
Xero has three pricing plans: the Starter plan ($12 per month), the Standard plan ($34 per month), and the Premium plan ($65 per month).
The differences between these plans are slight, especially for the drastic price increases. The only difference between Starter and Standard is a removal of limits, and the only difference between Standard and Premium is the addition of multi-currency support, alongside project accounting features like time-tracking and project profitability.
- Works effortlessly with platforms such as Shopify, Squarespace, and Square Online
- Integrates with Amazon, Etsy, and other ecommerce sites
- Impressive mobile apps
- Doesn't track expenses as standard
QuickBooks for Retail
QuickBooks is as close as it comes to a “household name” for accounting software, and the platform is a powerful choice for any retailer looking to track their bottom line.
Why Is QuickBooks Good for Retail?
Rounding off what could be considered the Big Three of retail accounting, QuickBooks falls short of the other two by just a hair. It's generally geared toward more established businesses, as its accounting features are very robust, and it has great support lines.
However, the main feature you want for retail, inventory tracking, is only available on the higher tiers, making it a pricey alternative to FreshBook and Xero, which include it on their cheapest tiers.
QuickBooks has five tiers. These are the Self-employed tier ($15 per month), the Simple Start tier ($25 per month), the Essentials tier ($40 per month), the Plus tier ($70 per month), and the Advanced tier ($150 per month).
Various features come in various tiers, but the most noteworthy are time-tracking, which comes in Essentials, project profitability tracking, which comes in Plus, and of course inventory tracking, which also comes in Plus.
- Granular, customizable reports
- Mobile app lets you track miles driven
- 30-day free trial
- Customer support isn't the best
- A little pricey for small operations
Sage for Retail
Though we wouldn't rank it quite so well as FreshBooks, Sage is a respectable choice for any retail business looking to keep a keen eye on their accounts.
Why Is Sage Good for Retail?
Sage is a decent option for retail users. It provides a low-cost, functional accounting tool with an inventory feature and retail-centric reports. However, these are only offered on the more expensive tier.
However, since its ability to integrate with EPOS and eCommerce systems is lacking, competitors do have a distinct edge.
Sage only has two tiers, the Start tier ($10 per month) and the Standard tier ($25 per month). Inventory management is only offered on the Standard tier. The Standard tier also offers a load of other useful things, like bill tracking, cashflow projections, and account collaboration.
- Easy to use
- Integrates with Microsoft 365
- 30-day free trial
- App selection is limited
- Expensive and clunky per-user pricing
Zoho for Retail
Why Is Zoho Good for Retail?
While Zoho is generally good accounting software. For the retail accounting niche, however, Zoho does not provide a lot of support. Its inventory feature is restricted to its expensive mid-tier – but unlike Quickbooks, it doesn't make up for this by providing a wide range of features to justify the investment.
Also, if you don't use Square's POS or ecommerce services, you'll be out of luck, as they are the only integrations supported by Zoho. This can be a bit restrictive for non-Square users.
Zoho has four plans, one of which is free. The other three are the Standard plan ($15 per month), the Professional plan ($40 per month), and the Premium plan ($60 per month).
Inventory management is only offered on the Professional and Premium plans, as are some other nifty features like time-tracking, project profitability, and budget forecasting features.
- Large invoice limit on lowest tier
- Provides project accounting functionality at a cheaper rate than competitors
- Extensive accounts receivable functionality
- Accounts payable functionality unavailable on lowest tier
- Limited integrations
- Charges an extra fee per month for document scanning
FreeAgent for Retail
In isolation, FreeAgent is a decent purchase, but when compared to the other options on this list, it's a bit of a hard argument to make.
Why Is FreeAgent Good for Retail?
FreeAgent has aspects which are geared toward retail (inventory management and substantial ecommerce integration), it will likely leave users wanting more.
It lacks some retail-centric reports and has no form of official EPOS integration but sits within the same price range as brands which do, so it's harder to argue in favour of FreeAgent.
There's only one FreeAgent tier, costing $24 per month.
- Solid ecommerce integrations
- Inventory tracking
- Few report options
- No EPOS integrations
Wave for Retail
Free accounting software sure sounds good, but Wave does the unthinkable and actually makes it work well, too. There are some limitations to the free tier though, which mean that retailers wanting to scale up will need a paid Wave plan.
Why Is Wave Good for Retail?
The biggest and most obvious plus that Wave has under its belt is that it's free. For some small businesses, not having a monthly cost behind their accounting can be enough to sway them. However, as they're free, they do miss out on some useful features.
The main one is inventory tracking. This is borderline essential for retail accounting, as most platforms at least offer it on a higher tier. You'd need to buy a dedicated tracking platform, which would then negate the entire point of the freeness in the first place. Still, its lack of limits and decent collection of other features (like receipt scanning and invoice tracking) might be enough to convince certain customers.
Wave is entirely free. There are no tiers and no paid add-ons (beyond any integrations you'd be paying for separately).
- Completely free to use
- Offers affordable add-ons
- Lacks features
- Struggles to scale with growing businesses
Kashoo for Retail
Kashoo? Bless you. Jokes aside, Kashoo is a decent but unspectacular choice for retail accounting. We wouldn't confidently recommend it above the brands featured higher up this list.
Why Is Kashoo Good for Retail?
Coming in last, Kashoo doesn't do much beyond what we've discussed in better pieces of software, while still pricing itself among its contemporaries.
It does include inventory tracking, which we've cited as a rare and desirable feature, but the feature itself is so limited that it's hard to get much meaningful data beyond what you have vs what you've sold.
It's also only limited to Square when looking at both EPOS and ecommerce options. It's not a total failure – you may be able to fit the exact niche it's offering, but on a broad sense, most customers can find something better.
Kashoo makes it easy to choose: The service has just one plan, available for $27 per month. You'll get integrations including payroll, as well as project specific expenses and profitability tracking, all in addition to core invoicing, expensing, and reporting.
- Simple and speedy to work out
- Impressive customer support
- Doesn't have the most advanced features
How Did We Choose the Best Accounting Software for Retail?
There are many factors to take into consideration when looking at accounting software for retail. On our hunt for the greatest accounting software, we had to keep all of these in mind. But not each of these factors were equal – for example, ecommerce integrations are a bit more important than their support lines.
One of the main things we looked at was indeed ecommerce integrations. That is why FreshBooks does so well – it has the most robust selection of ecommerce integrations. Other important integrations included electronic point of sale (EPOS) integrations, which are massively helpful for retail businesses.
Of course, you also want to be able to keep tabs on your finances in general, so the softwares' bookkeeping, accounts payable, and accounts receivable options were all heavily weighed in consideration.
Finally, like any software, we also considered their support lines, like phone or email support options, as well as the general pricing of each tier.
What Is Retail Accounting?
While all businesses need to stay on top of their books, “retail accounting” is a bit different. The phrase “retail accounting” doesn't actually refer to a different form of accounting, but an inventory management system.
Inventory is the most important part of a retail business. Staying on top of what you have and what it costs you is the core of running a business. However, manually tallying up individual stock can be time-consuming, so retail accounting takes the strain.
It acts as an estimation method which helps you assess the general cost of your inventory. Rather than remembering the exact cost of a unit when you bought it, which can fluctuate based on a variety of things, you'd just estimate a cost per unit and apply it to every unit you have.
While this would rarely result in an exactly correct amount, it would allow you to get a close enough estimate to make wider business decisions. It's not recommended all the time, as if you do it too often, you might stray too far from the correct amount, but overall, it's a useful system if you're in a pinch. Read more about the specifics here.
Retail Accounting Features to Look for
Most accounting software platforms come packed with various useful features, but what should you have your eyes out for when looking for accounting software for a retail business?
Here are some particularly handy features that are particularly worth considering:
- Inventory management: This can help you keep track of the exact amount of product you have left to sell, letting you avoid unfortunate surprises. This feature can be found in any Xero tier, QuickBooks' higher tiers, all of FreshBooks tiers, Zoho's higher tiers, FreeAgent, and Kashoo.
- Receipt scanning: This allows you to scan and catalogue any receipts as either income or expenditure. This can save a lot of time, as you won't have to manually log these numbers. This is found in Xero, QuickBooks, and via an iOS app for Wave.
- Time-tracking: If you have several employees, time tracking can help you keep track of how many hours they work, which helps with hourly pay. This is found in the higher tiers of Xero, QuickBooks, and Zoho. It's also found in all tiers of FreshBooks and FreeAgent.
- Project profitability tracking: A very useful tool that can look at records of product profits, and can allow you to know if it's time to cut a certain project loose. This is found in the upper tiers of Kashoo, Zoho, Xero, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks.
- Custom reports: Reports are useful if you ever want to show a bird's eye view of your business to outsiders, like investors. You can only create custom reports through Xero and QuickBooks.
- Multi-currency payments: Maybe not crucial for everyone, but if you run an international business, the ability to receive payments in various currencies can be pivotal. This can be used in the upper tiers of Xero, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Zoho, and Sage. It's also in Kashoo, FreeAgent, and Wave.
Many of these functions are also key to businesses outside retail: Check out our guide to the best accounting software for restaurants to learn more.
Can You Use Free Accounting Software for Retail?
While free accounting software is certainly appealing due to the lack of financial investment, it can really only take you so far. As you would want your business to grow, the strict limits imposed by free software (or free tiers) might be too tight for a business with even slightly lofty goals.
Final Thoughts – Time to Pick the Best Retail Accounting Software
Now that you're a pro in accounting software, it's time to make your decision. Like we said, our absolute top pick is FreshBooks, as it simply has the widest array of features at a very affordable price.
However, there are some places where it falls short. If you're someone who will need a lot of help, you might want to look at QuickBooks or Zoho, who have great support lines. Or, if your business uses a lot of EPOS systems, you might want to look at Xero.
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