Author : Michael Bruer

Comparing and Contrasting TaxJar vs Avalara

TaxJar vs Avalara

TaxJar vs Avalara

Determining the best Tax Software for your business is a crucial step in the evolution of any company. A good sales tax compliance software is a cinch to implement, easy to use, and ultimately solves your problems so you can get back to running your business. To compare TaxJar vs Avalara, we evaluated each SAAS (software as a service) on: Ease of Use, Customer Support, Pricing, and Overall Customer Satisfaction. We hope this comparison article helps you make an informed decision about the best tax software for your business.

Ease of Use

Since the dawn of software solutions people have put a premium on usability. What good is a software if it takes months or even years to master the nuances? In terms of the customer/user experience, TaxJar is simply easier to use. TaxJar is built for multi-channel sellers, who can easily import data with a few clicks from Shopify and Amazon. By contrast, Avalara users are forced to download CSVs (comma separated values) and re-format them to meet AvaTax requirements. In the end, you don’t have to take our word for it when it comes to the functionality of each SAAS, you can look what customers are saying for yourself!

Pricing

When evaluating TaxJar vs Avalara on price we considered the offer of a TaxJar free trial, the contract differences, and the extra fees charged by Avalara. A good first impression goes a long way, which is why TaxJar provides potential customers with a 30-day free trial. According to their website, this trial does not require a credit card. Plus, new customers to TaxJar do not face setup fees, cancellation fees, hidden fees, or forced annual contracts. From our research we found that annual contracts are the standard for Avalara customers: some being multi-year. Meanwhile, TaxJar proudly offers monthly plans because they stand behind their service rather than rely on contracts to keep customers around.

Last but not least are the fees built in to each software. Our research indicates that a typical 20K transaction year with TaxJar will cost $2,150, a pittance compared to the $12,515 price tag for Avalara customers. The combination of an activation fee, annual connector fee, annual license, and monthly billing (among others) from Avalara contributes to this hefty final figure. All of this information illustrates why TaxJar is the more cost-efficient model.

Customer Support

Another pillar of great software is strong customer support, and unfortunately for Avalara customers, this is where they fall significantly short. The Avalara adage of ‘Tax compliance done right’ does not accurately reflect their customer support services. Time and time again customers have complained about the abysmal support from Avalara. The general consensus among TaxJar customers is positive for their customer support. Calculating accurate taxes is important and the consequences can be more than a bit frustrating. As a result, TaxJar’s solid reputation of good customer support is so integral to the overall customer experience.

Overall Customer Satisfaction

No matter which software you choose, we hope this comparison has been useful. Although both serve the same purposes, our ZBrains Tax Jar integration provides all the benefits of TaxJar without the price tag of Avalara. As an added bonus, if you use Magento to help sell, TaxJar offers free sales tax calculations!

Long-time users of TaxJar and brand new customers alike can benefit from our Zoho Integration for TaxJar. Discover the benefits of this and all of our Zoho integrations!

The Benefits of the ZBrains Commission Calculator

Calculate Commissions on Time Every Time with ZBrains Commissions Calculator

Elegantly Crafted to Integrate with Zoho CRM or Your Accounting Suite

Paying employees on time is vital for team morale, financial planning, and evaluating your sales progress on a regular basis. The ZBrains Commission Calculator does just that, effectively eliminating all the hard work involved in the commissions calculation process. We designed it to make your life easier and put smiles on the faces of your sales team. In the end, paying your employees accurately and on time will keep them happy and eager to sell more.

Integration is the name of the game, which is why we designed this Commission Calculator in Zoho Creator for integration with your accounting software. Whether you use QuickBooks, Zoho Books, or Exact Online, our Commission Calculator pulls invoices from your software to begin the process of calculating commissions. This flexible commission software solution works with every kind of commission table out there: Commission on Gross Profit, Sales Revenue Commission, Revenue Tiers, and Placement Fees. The result? An invaluable product that integrates with Zoho and makes life easier for you and your entire sales team.

Why You Should Want the ZBrains Commission Calculator

The mark of a great ZBrains integration is one that fills a necessary gap or automates a process, cutting down on both labor and man-hours. The ZBrains Commission Calculator fits that definition perfectly. It automates a regular process and places it firmly within the Zoho environment for your benefit. In addition to saving plenty of time and effort, this calculator ensures employees are paid on time, every time. At the end of the day a happy sales team is a more effective sales team.  When your hard-working sales force is consistently recognized for their efforts, their motivation to sell will increase.

What Does This Commission Calculator Do For Me?

Think of every member of your sales team: the budding sales novices, hungry mid-tier sellers, all the way up the ladder to your experienced aces-in-the-hole. Imagine how long it takes to manually calculate sales commission, and develop Excel reports separate from your accounting software or CRM. Numerous problems are likely to arise from this setup, such as commissions delivered late, off a decimal, or simply unaccounted for. In our on-demand world rife with immediate gratification, this laborious process sticks out like a sore thumb.

Fortunately, our Commission Calculator fills that void and makes certain your sales team is paid appropriately and promptly. It offers numerous valuable features:

  • Automatic Commission Calculation
  • Commission Approvals
  • Commission Statements
  • Payroll Integration (optional upgrade)

Create commission tables, assign them to your sales reps, and approve commissions on your schedule. The goal with our commission calculator is to put you securely in the driver’s seat. You can approve commissions bi-weekly, monthly, or on your own custom schedule as you see fit. 

ZBrains Magento Integration for Zoho

Connecting Zoho and Magento: Why it Matters and How it Works

ZBrains Magento Integration for Zoho Makes Order Management Easier

Zoho CRM is known for its ability to connect multiple aspects of running a business and ultimately employ more automations. The result is more time for you to do what you do best: run your company. However, sometimes there are gaps between the software you use and the Zoho CRM suite of applications. The ZBrains Magento Integration for Zoho is a perfect example of that, chock-full of significant value. At its core, the most noteworthy benefits of this integration are:

  • Syncing customers with account or contacts
  • Syncing products and inventory
  • Syncing orders and shipments

Streamline Inventory, Products, Shipments, and Customers

We crafted this integration to give business owners greater control and ultimately improve how their business operates. Among the most integral improvements: enhanced reporting through the integration can increase sales, improve delivery time responses, and enable the sales team to sell more accurately with up-to-date inventory. The result? No more combing through your product listings on the website with a fine-tooth comb to confirm sufficient inventory! Updates are made automatically, ensuring your entire team is on the same page.

Common Use Cases for the ZBrains Magento Integration for Zoho

Let’s take a look at three of the most common use cases for the Magento integration:

1. Zoho CRM + Magento (Sales+Operations)

Businesses that use both Zoho CRM and Magento are likely to encounter many head-scratching moments when the two programs fail to effectively communicate. Without a direct connection between the two, you are forced to take multiple steps to sync the information you need. Fortunately, our integration fills this gap, combining the two components. Data integration lets you use Magento for fulfillment while tapping into useful Zoho applications such as Zoho Desk and Zoho Projects.

2. Sales + Magento (Sales)

Other companies are organized without Zoho CRM, relying instead a traditional Sales team equipped with Magento. In this scenario, you are forced to couple the data gathered from the Sales team with information stored on Magento before migrating all of that into Zoho CRM. The key takeaway here is that our integration takes care of that extra manual step to allow all three processes to work in harmony.

3. Zoho + Magento + QuickBooks (Finance Department)

A popular arrangement companies use is a three-pronged approach: Zoho, Magento, and QuickBooks. For example, orders are processed in Magento, approved in Zoho, and the financial details are then synced with QuickBooks.

Our integration effectively eliminates the need for manual input of customer information into QuickBooks, saving your finance department valuable time and effort.

4. Executive Team Benefits

The beauty of this integration is that it benefits so many parts of a company, not least of which is the executive team. But Executive team members and CEOs do not have the luxury of combing through all the details of the business process. Our integration provides the logistics and data in real time to better pinpoint where a problem is impeding the workflow. For example, correcting a delay in shipping by using a different supplier, or ensuring a seasonal sale is properly noted on the website and during sales calls.

Whether you are the CEO of a small business or part of a seasoned executive team, our Magento Integration ensures you see the big picture while also granting access to the vital details that make up your business process.

Additional Benefits of the ZBrains Magento Integration

Our Magento Integration for Zoho saves time and avoids headaches all over your company. It streamlines the checkout process, allowing you to perform checkout both through the Magento store and offline. In addition to saving past orders, your sales team can manage customers and orders through Zoho rather than logging into a Magento admin panel. We developed this integration as a bridge among systems; a unified path of information to benefit you and your employees. It eliminates context switching and manual input. Plus, it gives your Sales team a tool to access data in real time and generate more business.

Magento is not without its own flaws, as evidenced by this list, but when used correctly and in conjunction with Zoho, your business can truly succeed.

In the end, whether you are a Magento user curious about the benefits of Zoho or a Zoho fan looking to connect the dots of your company, we at ZBrains can help. Magento and Zoho are both valuable parts of any business owner’s arsenal, and we make sure they work together. Learn about our other integrations, such as QuickBooks, Sage 100, and Google Drive.

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: The Ultimate ERP Showdown (Part 2)

*Part 2 of our comparison of Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite*

Customer Service

A comparison of Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite cannot be genuine without examining the customer support characteristics of both. In the end, any good product can be handicapped by sub-par customer service. Even experienced business owners can run into issues and time-sensitive problems that need immediate attention. The reality of NetSuite as a software is that the aforementioned problems of user experience and navigability bleed over into the customer service. When problems arise and NetSuite is markedly absent, it forces users to try and craft their own solutions and workarounds. This is a huge headache, especially compared to the ease of Zoho, with its interwoven network of applications. In the end, having a team of Zoho experts at your service gives you the peace of mind to attend to your business.

When you use Zoho, you have the advantage of Zoho Support and an interface that is easier to manage and maintain. Plus, you can rely on ZBrains with our support retainers to help you through issues with implementation. This setup stands in stark contrast to NetSuite, whose support plans are likely more expensive, necessitating a dedicated NetSuite resource that is pricier.

Winner: Zoho

Zoho is simply better in this category, with NetSuite customers forced to endure more expensive support that isn’t always readily available to meet your needs.

Who’s it For?

Comparing Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite, it is evident that they offer some of the same functionality, but the two software programs are ultimately suited for different audiences. The price point of NetSuite makes it much less accessible for smaller companies; conversely, Zoho CRM is much more affordable, providing startups, small companies, and medium sized businesses with a fully baked  CRM / ERP solution that does not break the bank. Given the capacity of NetSuite, booming businesses that excel with Zoho CRM often make the jump to Oracle when they have the financial security.

When evaluating who uses Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite, there are some important questions to consider:

  • How much will implementation cost?
  • How much will ongoing maintenance cost?
  • Will you have to hire an on-site expert?

These issues hearken back to customer service, more specifically how the Zoho Support we at ZBrains provide is cost-effective. A final note on cost, ZBrains offers flexible pricing for consulting time – we offer hourly consulting  blocks a more desirable option than having to hire someone and pay them to be on-site as a full-time employee. (ZBrains wants to be part of your business solution, we aim to be a partner and not just a pump and dump IT shop).

The bottom line here is, we understand the unique needs of the industry, and our knowledge of manufacturing is translated directly into an ERP solution that can be personalized to your business.

Winner: Tie

There’s no clear favorite here, as both programs offer similar applications. However, the important distinction are the stark differences in support plans and the ERP gap that ZBrains bridges for Zoho users.

[yop_poll id=2]
Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: The Ultimate ERP Showdown (Part 1)

Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: The Ultimate ERP Showdown

Businesses of all sizes and industries operate efficiently with the help of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. From closing deals to managing budgets to juggling the schedules of multiple field technicians, these magical pieces of software help CEOs everywhere rest easy with invaluable automations. However, how do you decide which CRM is right for you? Choosing a CRM that works best for your business is no easy task; but, we aim to ease your concerns, answer your questions, and illustrate the pros and cons of two different software packages in this comparison article. Read on to discover the details of Zoho CRM vs. NetSuite: how they are similar, how they are different, and they affect the bottom line for your company.

CRM Usability

The way software appears to a user, the user interface, is a significant determining factor in customer opinion of that software. Navigability is huge, because a clunky UI can be incredibly frustrating and ultimately can turn users off entirely. Unfortunately, many NetSuite users have voiced their displeasure with the UI, commenting on it feeling outdated and depressing. You can read their thoughts on Oracle NetSuite, both good and bad hereOther complaints from NetSuite customers reference the subpar search function,  noting how difficult it is to find things and how the CRM is not intuitive. Last but not least, NetSuite has built a reputation for not playing well with other systems, i.e. lack of intuitive integrations.

By contrast, Zoho CRM is known for having a user friendly interface and marries all of its applications very well. Plus, if Zoho customers encounter any issues, we at ZBrains are here to help. Our team aims to please, as evidenced by our collection of useful integrations:

Winner: Zoho CRM

Ultimately, the frequency of user complaints about NetSuite gives Zoho the edge here.

Overall Value of the CRM

When discussing the overall value of these two pieces of software, it’s important to note that NetSuite carries the Oracle name, and is therefore more expensive with that enterprise label. Although on the surface the applications within both CRMs appear to be the same, the main difference is that Zoho is considerably less expensive.

Also noteworthy in this category are the complaints of NetSuite users, who grumble about the CRM out of the box. Multiple users mentioned the hassle of having to buy more add-ins just to get the essentials of the software to function properly. This folds into an often overlooked cost, the implied cost. We will go into implied cost in more detail in a future article, but in essence, NetSuite support plans post launch are likely very expensive, requiring a NetSuite (Oracle) resource that is pricier in the long term.

Explained further, NetSuite is an ERP solution that has all the big-box player financial tools out of the box and several integrations. On the other hand, Zoho out of the box does not have full ERP functionality, but it can be augmented quickly and cost effectively when combined with our Zoho ERP. The difference is that when you combine Zoho with our Zoho ERP the result is better than NetSuite because our solution incorporates a full end to end business engine into a single Zoho app suite. Considering the entire value provided, you have access to the Productivity app suite of Zoho to centralize your business processes and reduce administrative overhead created by a combined solution built on Zoho’s native Creator platform.

Winner: Zoho CRM

Zoho tops NetSuite in this category, in particular because of the required add-ons you need for NetSuite in conjunction with the implied costs of future support.

Team members gather to discuss the benefits of job costing

The Many Benefits of Job Costing

The Advantages of Using Zoho with the ZBrains Job Costing Extension

Job costing is a phenomenal way for businesses owners to stay on top of their finances and ensure they are on budget across all projects. The ZBrains Zoho Job Costing Appbuilt by our creator experts, offers businesses of varying industries a pathway towards greater financial management and allocation of resources. When performed correctly, job costing ensures employees are being utilized smartly. Traditionally, job costing is associated with manufacturing and construction companies. However,  service companies (law firms, accounting businesses, and private investment companies) also have a lot to gain from this application. Plus, medical services businesses, film studios, and retail companies likewise can utilize job costing to great effect.

Evaluate Quotes, Manage Proposals, and Plan Ahead in One Convenient Place

Companies often rely on multiple software platforms to track expenses and coordinate their budget planning.  The beauty of our job costing app is having all your data conveniently housed in one place. Want to adjust a proposal to include more line items within a single deal? Done. Looking to monitor the work load for multiple employees? You got it. This application takes all expenses into account, including labor, materials, and employee wages, to give you an accurate picture of your business as a whole. Planning for the future is easier with Zoho Job Costing as a result, because you can see the true cost of every job. For a great job costing example, see this job costing example.

Organize your Team and their Individual Workflows

Any great manager can speak to the difficulty of monitoring multiple team members at once, and this app significantly eases that process. See where your efforts are pointed, and re-assign team members as needed. Perhaps you have a go-to worker for smaller, short window projects and another ace in the hole for complex, longer term projects — the job costing module lets you track their progress and add to their plates as you see fit. Another aspect to consider is the speed of a worker compared to another. This job costing app enables you to assign a junior employee to a lower priority project and a senior specialist to a project that needs to be completed as quickly as possible.

Optimize your Business Strategy

As with any great tool, the way you use determines how much value you extract from it. So it is with the job costing module: when used to its full potential business owners can see how their resources are being utilized. For example, maybe there is an uptick in jobs requiring stone, or a decline in jobs requiring lumber. With the job costing module you can take stock of your resources and adjust as needed. This makes life easier for you and your employees and helps you avoid resource shortages and surpluses alike.

Exterior of Cross Campus Downtown Los Angeles location

Zoho Community Meetup at Cross Campus DTLA

Zoho Community Meetup at Cross Campus DTLA

At 1PM on Wednesday, October 3rd, ZBrains will host our next Zoho Community Meetup in the heart of downtown Los Angeles Cross Campus:

800 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90017

Come learn how ZBrains provides solutions to the most common Zoho CRM challenges. This event is FREE and open to the public!

Community Meetup Agenda

Join ZBrains as we help you better understand the Zoho CRM, journeying through the following topics:

Zoho Projects

  • Plan, track, and ensure positive collaboration among your employees. Projects allows for better time management and resource utilization.

Zoho Creator

  • Whether you need complex processes automation or just less tedious work on your plate, Zoho Creator lets you craft a custom app that fits your business.

Zoho Campaigns

  • Building a strong customer base is made that much easier with smart email marketing campaigns, and Zoho Campaigns helps you do that and then some.

POP and IMAP for Better Email Management

  • Achieve a greater understanding of POP and IMAP, and how Zoho integrates with them through various email clients.

SalesInbox to Prioritize your Emails

  • The email client built exclusively for salespeople to bring the most valuable emails to the forefront.

MS Outlook plugin to manage emails, contacts, and events

  • Collaboration is key, which is why this plugin pulls from your emails, tasks, and calendar for one convenient data hub.

Layouts for dynamic customization

  • Custom layouts allow you to tailor your CRM for your business, including the fields that are relevant for your industry.

Subforms to associate multiple line items to a primary sale

  • Custom-create subforms to add accessories to a primary product, or add contact details to accounts, among other uses.

API version 2 for enhanced integration capabilities

  • Released in February 2018, this updated API includes better call methods, output responses, and more!

Zoho CRM Integrations

  • Zoho Projects
  • Zoho Creator
  • Zoho Books
Zoho Desk Time and Payments Tracking

Zoho Desk Time and Payments Tracking

Track Time Automatically or Manually with the Timer

A recent upgrade to Zoho Desk has made this web-based help desk software even more valuable. Time Tracking is the newest feature, allowing you to track time spent on tickets and add billable time entries based on predefined costs. The ease and efficiency of this new component is instantly identifiable — it’s such a no-brainer that you may wonder how Zoho Desk ever existed without it! We’ve spelled out the details of this streamlined process below:

The timer is a stopwatch on the top of the page that tracks the amount of time spent working on a ticket or task. Press pause and start to pause and resume the timer as needed. When you click pause, the accumulated time is held for you. You can restart the timer to pick up where you left off, or you can apply the accumulated time to your timesheet. There is also a refresh button to reset the timer, allowing you to start the timer over.

  • Timer displays accumulated time in the HH:MM:SS format, starting at the one-second mark
  • Timers can be run on multiple tickets simultaneously

Tracking for Tasks

Simplicity is the name of the game, which is why tracking time for tasks is very similar to tickets. The chief difference? An administrator could restrict you from running the timer on multiple tasks at once. When this happens, a pop-up on the upper right area of the screen prompts you to submit the time spent on the current task before beginning the timer on the new one.

Clicking “Yes” in the above box will submit the timer for the accumulated time for the current task and start the timer on the new task.

How to Track Active Timers

Although you could run the timer on multiple tickets and tasks, it’s useless if you don’t remember to stop and submit their time. When you have lots of work on your plate, paying extra attention to a timer is the last thing you want to do. That’s why Zoho Desk includes My Active Timers, a view that lists all of your active timers in the department. (Because let’s face it, multitasking is no longer just a mark of efficiency, it’s a way of life)

To view your active timers:

1. Log into Zoho Desk
2. Check the Pending Activities icon 

3. A new window slides open on the right hand side of the screen

4. Click the My Active Timers icon at the top of the window.

Your active timers along and their accumulated time are listed here. You can pause, stop or reset the timer corresponding to a ticket or a task from here.

Automatic Tracking for Tickets

In automatic tracking, the timer starts every time a ticket is opened in your browser and stops when an action is completed. The actions to be tracked are set up at the department level by your administrator. For example, sending a reply, drafting a response, leaving a comment, etc. If no action is completed the timer does not record an entry. Also, while you can pause, resume, and reset time on an automatic timer, you cannot stop or submit your time since it gets added once you complete an action on a ticket.

*The timer is visible only if your administrator has enabled your ability to view the timer under settings. Otherwise your time will be submitted in the background.*

Reviewing Time

If you started the timer one hour ago, but at some point you took a 15 minute break, you must discard this time before submitting it. That’s why Zoho Desk allows you to review and edit your time spent on a ticket. A pop-up window appears with the choice to submit or ignore the spent time. You have 10 seconds to review the time before it gets auto-submitted.

For example in the image above, you have 10 seconds from when the window appears to submit the accumulated time. Failure to do so will automatically submit the displayed time. However, if you need more than 10 seconds for review, click on the tracked time to remove the countdown and remain on the window.

*This review window is visible only if your administrator has enabled your ability to edit your time spent on tickets.*

**You cannot review or edit the time spent in manual tracking mode.**