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Online Invoicing – get paid easier and faster

We’re excited to announce the introduction of Online Invoicing in Xero.

With Online Invoicing, a business simply emails their customers a link to a live invoice, which shows the most up-to-date details, including payment status, payment history and a Pay Now button for accepting payments online. Businesses and their customers are both seeing the same documents, at the same time. Invoices can be automagically loaded into Xero, with the associated pdf saving recoding and manual file uploads saving data entry time.

Sales Invoices from Xero on Vimeo.

This closes an important loop in the relationship between businesses and customers –  financial transactions are being recorded in real-time, so the gap between money flowing and keeping proper business records is eliminated and handled automatically.

With Online Invoicing, suddenly every business can now accept payments online, with a just simple tap of a button. Paying online is dramatically faster and simpler for both businesses and customers. In addition, businesses now know when their invoices have been viewed. Meanwhile, the customer can now see the most up-to-date status of their payments, including all outstanding and overdue payments. This will help you get paid faster.  We’ll be adding more payment types over time.

Online Invoicing combined with mobile creates a powerful, integrated invoicing solution – as you can see in the video above.

Over the last 6 years we’ve invested heavily in building a comprehensive online accounting platform that connects small businesses to their accountants, bookkeepers, banks and other online business software.

Now, with Online Invoicing, we’re connecting our customers with their customers and suppliers directly so both money and data flows faster and easier. This is where we believe the internet fundamentally changes accounting for small businesses and over time we believe Online Invoicing will become a standard feature of all accounting software. Both businesses large and small will be electronically connected.

Check out our Help section for more detail on Online Invoices.

We’re excited to hear what you think and your suggestions of where we can take this, and we’d especially like to know what other payment types you’d like us to add.

 

Update

Some great feedback.   We’re written a new blog to explain a bit more http://www.xero.com/blog/2012/10/online-invoicing-your-customers-perspective

 

Read more about Business

 

60 comments

Peter Spencer
1 October 2012 #

Great new feature; but a bit confusing for customers:

1. Customers received the pdf invoice and click on the link to see other outstanding invoices (in a browser)
2. They create an account and then click on the link on the email that is sent to them.
3. They are then taken to a screen and login. BUT from that screen the cannot see their outstanding invoices, and they start to feel that they have to create an actual Xero accounts file (the big green button). They look in vain for a link to their outstanding invoices.
4. Only when they go back to the original browser window do they then see the now active link to see their other invoices.

This is very confusing and a tad bad design. Folks will think that what you are really focused on is getting them to sign-up for Xero!

Also, when they do sign-up, they are asked what accounting package they use, and the “Xero” option is not there! They may well not be using an email address that they use with Xero.

Peter Spencer
1 October 2012 #

Also, would be great if they can see and download all their invoices, not just the past 2 months.

Galen King
1 October 2012 #

This is fantastic and a much needed addition to Xero. I’m sure it will only evolve and get better from here. Well done.

James R
1 October 2012 #

I agree with Peter that this is a little confusing. I love the concept and I don’t mind my customers being introduced to Xero and prompted to sign up (because I am also a Xero shareholder) but I think there needs to be some sort of explanation as to what Xero actually is.
Also after activating their account and logging in, there should at least be something promoting them to view invoices and statements from my company (which is the reason they created an account in the first place. ) At the moment there is no way for them to do this other than go back to the invoice email.

Andrew Tokeley
1 October 2012 #

@Peter, @James – thanks for the feedback. We do display a message once the customer has created an account that says “After activating, remember to return to your bill” – but, fair comments, I’ll see what we can do to make this clearer.

Martin B
1 October 2012 #

If they are taken to the Paypal site, I’m guessing the poor business owner is picking up the Paypal fees… think I will pass on this option.

Adam Ramage
1 October 2012 #

Great to see features that will push business owners into the future and, whilst Tokes has graciously taken the feedback on board, the next step in reducing the work required by small business owners doing their “books”. Nice work Dev team! Maybe not perfect, but better than yesterday!

Joe
1 October 2012 #

new feature looks great! Can we work on improving statements now so we can print statements with only invoices owing rather than activity statements? I really need a feature like this as the currant statement is not what me clients require.
Keep up the good work!

Evan
1 October 2012 #

Very confusing to the customer and looks more like a method to trick customers into registering with Xero. The process it takes to get my clients to view outstanding invoices is too frustrating and once my clients have taken the annoying activation steps they are than redirected to their new xero account and not to my invoices that i have set for them. These are my customer and any sneaky attempt by Xero to make them their customers is not a good look and easily recognizable. I use Fresh Books for my online invoices, their portal is amazing and they do not force your customers into becoming xero customers. Fresh books hooks up to xero, so maybe xero can have a look at how online invoices are meant to work by taking a look at fresh books.

David Vaassen
1 October 2012 #

Awesome feature to be able to send live invoices. Now we just need an alternative NZ payment method to PayPal . Something like KiwiPay?

Kent Griffiths
1 October 2012 #

This looks like a very handy feature. Can it be integrated with add-ons? I usually invoice from the WorkflowMax add-on and then the invoice is ‘pushed’ across to Xero. Will this be automatic or will I have to resend from Xero to allow this option for my clients?

Andrew Yager
1 October 2012 #

I think we really need an option other than PayPal. PayPal does not allow the merchant to charge a payment surcharge as we do for CC normally. I’m not sure whether in Australia we can charge a surcharge /despite/ Paypal’s TOS, but my PayPal fee is much higher than my negotiated merchant fee with our bank.

I do really welcome the online invoicing though.

Andrew Yager
1 October 2012 #

I should say, we really want to see SecurePay’s Payment system integrated, or a way for third party integrations to be supported.

Linda
1 October 2012 #

Hi – We have the Accounts Receivable module (not Sales & Invoices) – do I need to do anything to activate the online invoicing feature?

Spencer
1 October 2012 #

How do I disable this feature?? I don’t want my clients to have online invoices and prefer to send them a PDF which I used to do straight from Xero. I don’t use paypal to receive payments so It should be optional not forced upon us!

Even when It sends the online invoice it says “Please see the attached PDF for complete details” anyway so it is a useless link and it is making it more confusing for my clients.

Putting the link in at the beginning of the email as well is ugly, before the message I have written to accompany my invoice. It should at least be at the bottom of the email.

Please give us an option to turn off this feature if we don’t want it!!!

Ian Viney
1 October 2012 #

I wouldn’t encourage (or even let!) my customers to pay by PayPal because the PayPal fees are several percent. (Ditto for credit cards.) It needs to be online banking (e.g. POLi).

Richard Phillips
1 October 2012 #

@Linda that was us in the Marketing team getting ahead of ourselves (we tend to do that) – the new dashboard will be live soon. Currently Online Invoices are sent as a link in the standard invoices email. So do what you’ve always done and when you send the email you’ll see the link with a notice.

Nigel
1 October 2012 #

The sales and invoicing dashboard shown in the video doesn’t seem to exist?

Given this blog is read by customers it would be much better if the videos helped customers use new features rather than made Xero look even shinier for prospective customers.

Fiona
1 October 2012 #

I think I’ll wait for my clients to be able to pay using my existing eWay account before sharing this new method of payment/tracking to them.

Nigel
1 October 2012 #

Imagine if Xero became all about growth, and not so much about service…

I’m cross and slightly shocked that Xero is trying to get between me and my customers in a way that seems to be for Xero’s benefit more than mine. This release damages my trust in you as a vendor: perhaps your priorities are more about customer growth than product improvement.

Please can you show us what our customers will actually receive in a walked through way. If I cause them confusion and extra work it will create support calls, piss them off and possibly lose me business. I don’t want to have to go to the bother of creating a fake Xero account to find out exactly how this works, and whether or not you are piggybacking on my customer relationships. And it’s me they will call if they can’t work your system or find the statement.

We pay a monthly fee – so in my view it’s not reasonable to use us to advertise your service. I think the online invoice should be on an unbranded domain without Xero links unless I choose to add them. As it happens – given the choice – I almost certainly would.

Finally I definitely don’t want to be encouraging my customers to use fee incurring payment processes when currently they pay me by cheque or bank transfer both of which are free. But maybe this can be expanded in the future, or maybe I have a subset of customers for whom this is appropriate. Can it be turned on or off on a per invoice basis? Or on a per tracking category or nominal account basis?

Peter
1 October 2012 #

Like the idea to view the invoice BUT without customer having to login. They should receive a unique URL that gives them direct access NO LOGIN. I hope there is the option to enable and disable this feature as there are some large companies that would not appreciate this.

David Jenyns
1 October 2012 #

Agreed with Fiona… this will be great when you finally accept eway payments.

Eway.com is pretty much one of Australia’s largest gateways, I still don’t understand why Xero hasn’t integrated it.

That’s the biggest thing I don’t like about Xero right now… with that, it’d be the perfect solution for us (and many other Australia businesses).

Peter Spencer
1 October 2012 #

The new feature that shows if the invoices has been viewed online is great; but it does not show anything if the customer just views the PDF in the email and does not click on the link.

Would be better if we got notification if the email had even just been opened; or even an option to NOT include the PDF so the customer HAD to click on the link.

Brad Fraser
1 October 2012 #

Perhaps an easy fix? If their was a setting within “Invoice Themes” that enabled or disabled the online link, I think that would make people a lot happier.

This also leads to what I immediately did:
- Turn off the setting to show previous invoices as I do not want to promote a Xero login.
-Turn off the paypal email address for my primary invoice template. No Pay Now link, but not bad.

I agree with Nigel that the fact that this isn’t opt-in is definitely concerning. I don’t like having links on my invoices that go to a completely separate company and I don’t like confusing my clients, especially on an invoice.

Roger
1 October 2012 #

First of all, I really dig Xero and am very pleased with all of the improvements, including this one. It’s refined, makes it easy for my customers to see their invoice and not have to deal with PDFs and all that. But I must say, I agree with a lot of the other comments here. Having them crate an account to view all their invoices, etc., is great. But the hoops to try and coax them into signing up for Xero looks pretty unprofessional on my end. I used to use wave accounting, which had a similar feature, and it was free. They justified it by slapping their logo everywhere, which I thought was fine. But we’re paying for Xero, therefore, I would like to (and feel like I should have the option to) maintain the line between my customers experience and the business end of things. Besides, most of my customers are individuals, not businesses, and the last thing they need is a language school pushing them to use some accounting software.

My suggestion: In the invoice settings, where you click to remove the link to see all online bills, remove that link to ‘save’ as well. Keep the online invoice, the interface looks great (I like that if it’s past do it shows up in red, saves me a lot of awkward moments), but give us (your paying clients) the option to control just how far down the rabbit hole goes.

Regardless, I still dig Xero.

Cheers,

Roger

John
1 October 2012 #

Why is it that Xero works on features no-one has requested, but ignores constant requests from it’s users? It’s a real shame, as Xero is a great product, but it’s missing some pretty basic features like Email Templates (that have been requested for agggggges).

Quit trying to turn my customers into your customers and listen to your users.

Andrew
1 October 2012 #

How do I turn this off?

It works terrible for our quotes ie. we send draft invoices using a different template (as Xero recommends) .. its going to confuse the hell out of our customers (already getting customer concerns that we are invoicing them before we even do the job).

Also dont like the fact that you are asking our customers to sign into your website …

I would be happy if you just add a “disable this feature” button.

Kali
1 October 2012 #

Ditto re the eWAY integration….. please please please integrate online invoicing with eWAY gateway and then all Aus. payment processing will be super super tasty!

Brendon
1 October 2012 #

Well, have been through the full range of emotions on this one; not an experience usually expected from a Xero update.

First off, great Dev work and like the way you’re heading with online invoicing. However, to default something like this to ‘on’ and not clearly explain what the process will be is simply out of character for your company…

After reading the blog, watching the videos and wading through the help pages, I eventfully found the answers I was looking for in the comments of this post. Like Brad suggested, I’ve turned off the ‘link to other invoices’ setting and send one of my current invoices to myself to test. If that had of been the default settings then it would have saved me a lot of time.

As it is now, it seems to work fine. PDF is just like it always was, online link is at the top of the email and when clients click on it they get a current view with Xero no login screen that so many others (correctly) complained out. There is still Xero branding on the bottom of the online invoice and I would have preferred that the ‘viewed’ trigger worked based on the email being opened rather than clicking on the link.

Still love you guys… Just hope that next time you wish the grow your business like this, that you’ll carefully consider the impact on your customers businesses (that’s us) and consult with customers before forcing any new workflows like this onto all users.

Cheers,

Brendon

Philip Fierlinger
1 October 2012 #

Hi everyone. I’ve just posted a detailed blog that shows you online invoicing from your customer’s perspective.

It answers a lot of questions raised here and also outlines our thinking behind online invoices…

http://blog.xero.com/2012/10/online-invoicing-your-customers-perspective/

timmo26
1 October 2012 #

Great concept, terrible implementation. Did you guys poll your customers about this one before development??

This feature is fairly useless unless the entity invoiced already uses Xero and then obviously has a login. If I weren’t a Xero user then I wouldn’t be signing up and have yet another login to another service just to view an invoice. I’m certainly not alone there.

Would be an awesome and welcome feature if you just provided unique URL’s to each invoice.

[...] for businesses. The problem, as shown from the large number of comments on the Xero blog post is that this is the first time that the customers of Xero users have been presented with anything [...]

Dominic Deeson
1 October 2012 #

I want to echo Joe’s comments: Can we work on improving statements now so we can print statements with only invoices owing rather than activity statements?

Past activity is irrelevant. What clients (and I) need to know is what invoices are outstanding. Full stop.

Rhiannon Beach
1 October 2012 #

Not happy at all with this feature, how can i turn this feature off?

Claire Broadley
1 October 2012 #

I like the idea, but I don’t like the way it has been implemented at all.

Like other commenters, I am concerned that users are being shown Xero-branded links to view invoices sent by my company. I understand that a login is needed for some functionality, but there is no reason for my clients to sign up for Xero, be set up with a Xero dashboard, and nor should they be redirected there on login.

I’m concerned that features are being rolled out in a live, switched-on state with no warning. I spent half an hour (on a busy Monday morning) testing this out and switching it off, which I would rather not have done, given the deadlines I had.

My last comment was not approved, so I’m reposting. Xero, if you invite feedback, please have the good grace to publish critical comments.

Gary Turner
1 October 2012 #

@ Claire – we’ve written up another blog post to clarify how this works from your customers perspective.

Your customers do not need to be Xero users nor do they need to create a Xero login to view an online invoice.

I think it’s fair to say we could have done a better job of explaining exactly how this feature works in our launch blog post, plus we’ve had a chunk of feedback about where we need to tune it up to make it perfect for everyone – so, please keep it coming.

Maggie
1 October 2012 #

Fair points Nigel.

I generally like the idea however I do agree that it should not be Xero-branded. As you correctly point out – we already pay a fee.

Peter
2 October 2012 #

You sort feedback on how to improve invoicing and hundreds of people responded. How did this end up as one of the top features? Agree where is email template improvements and integrations that so many people are crying out for? Agree not a good implementation guys

Fred
2 October 2012 #

This is a good feature that is already common-place for standalone invoice services, and I’m glad Xero has introduced it. However, I will not use it before it is available on a white-label basis. My customers should not see who I use for my accounting, and I have no intention of starting to advertise for Xero, a paid-for service. I should be able to customise the color scheme / logo on the invoice page, and replace the domain-part of the URL with my own (having set up a CNAME record). With these two additions, this will become a feature for Xero-users, not an advertising spot for Xero.

[...] for businesses. The problem, as shown from the large number of comments on the Xero blog post is that this is the first time that the customers of Xero users have been presented with anything [...]

Claire Broadley
2 October 2012 #

Gary, thanks for responding. I do understand how the feature works. I understand it’s possible to deactivate the login feature, which I did first thing this morning. However, as far as I can see, the online invoicing itself cannot be turned off. We can’t even change the wording or the position of the link; it just appears at the top of the invoice. I would rather just stick with PDFs to avoid confusing people, but the only way I can do that is to download invoices manually, compose emails and attach them. That’s a step backwards in terms of usability. Please can you add a check box to turn this entire feature off until the link can be customised?

Erik
2 October 2012 #

Thought this was a great idea until I saw the sign up bit. Sorry but I thought you guys were bigger than this!

Andrew
2 October 2012 #

After a full day of use – this is now really annoying. I have had 5 customers question what it is all about – and I have no way of turning it off. I didnt ask for this, why has it been forced upon me.

John
2 October 2012 #

I am very disappointed that Xero has chosen to sell their “Brand” to my clients by adding a link to my invoices that shows the Xero Brand and I
Did NOT give permission
Have NOT got ability to remove
I belive Xero should Immediately remove their logo from the bottom of the invoices being viewed online (replace woth a blank image) and ASAP remove the link (or make it an option to add it) from the bottom of invoices being sent out.
When this is implemented it should also be “off” by default.

Jill V
2 October 2012 #

I don’t need, nor want this “upgrade”. My invoices are already customized with my logo and with the following text… “We are now accepting online payments by clicking on the link on the online invoice.” Having this additional link on my invoice is very confusing and I will not send an online invoice to my clients until this is fixed. Because I use online invoicing quite often, I will have to change accounting services if this is not changed. Love Xero and have promoted you here quite a bit in the US but this is very disappointing. Many of our clients are not computer savvy and have a difficult enough time with the link on the emailed invoice. This new “improvement” would be enough to make an emailed invoice completely useless and frustrating to them.

Andrew Jones
2 October 2012 #

+1 on these:

a) Must have white-label, templates & full customizing; including ability to link customers to our own company-branded (and existing) payment page (which we already do on pdf invoices). If we can use our own templates for pdf invoices, why can’t we customize their online equivalent?

b) Customers shouldn’t need to login, sign-up or see Xero’s click-bait. These are our customers and we want them in our environment, not yours. Xero is, after all, a service we pay for (and therefore expect to be ad free).

c) Has to be opt-in from our side

d) The online version of the invoice needs to show items & descriptions. Otherwise, it’s not really an invoice at all (it’s just a link really). As a client / recipient, I wouldn’t pay an online invoice that didn’t actually say what it was for.

Sergio
2 October 2012 #

I agreed with most of the last comments, I don’t like this future and would not use it, of course this will generate more work for us.

Ray
2 October 2012 #

Simply make your online invoicing just like Freshbooks (if not better) and I guarantee your customer base will include another ‘xero’ at the end within a year.

thomas
2 October 2012 #

I want to switch to Xero, but this update has got me considering why.

Nigel
3 October 2012 #

I just issued a credit note to a customer – in an embarrassing situation – and my email to them was preceded by:

View your bill online: https://in.xero.com/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Please could it at least say ‘credit note’ for a credit note and perhaps ‘invoice’ when it is a sales invoice? Or at least ‘document’ or something less specific if it can’t differentiate?

Chris
3 October 2012 #

Never, never release features like this that are automatically enabled. I have had to access each client in turn and uncheck the view unpaid invoices option. And it isn’t an “online invoice”, it is a summary of the invoice minus the supplier branding, and key statutory information. If you don’t use PayPal (and most won’t) I see no value in a link to an invoice summary that has a link to the pdf proper invoice, which is attached to the original email anyway! Ever heard of user acceptance testing?

Jeremy Sanders-Smith
3 October 2012 #

I am new to Xero and was planning to use it very soon. I have implemented on-line invoicing in a very large corporate system and ALL the branding was for the corporation NOT the software supplier. Read all these blogs but there does not seem to be a XERO response. I want to advertise MY company on invoices, NOT my paid-for service. Where is it at, XERO?

John
3 October 2012 #

Come on Xero.
This item plus the next one have the highest number of comments from clients and nothing from Xero in reply.
Most entries are NOT HAPPY with you putting your Brand on your clients customers information.
Xero you need to respond before it starts impacting with negative press.
It must be an option for links on invoices going out and it must be turned off by default.
Please sort out and respond to the people who have taken the time to comment on these blogs.

Paul Chapman
3 October 2012 #

Hello “Xero Technical Team”. Thank you for adding “ONLINE INVOICING” it is almost perfect. One of the advantages of Online Invoicing is to be able to tell if the client has received and viewed the invoice. By sending an attached PDF file with the link we can’t be sure if the client has not received and viewed the invoice or has just chosen to open the attached PDF file. Please give us an option to email the invoice as a link only or attach a PDF file as well. Fantastic work Xero Technical Team.

Eddie
4 October 2012 #

Everyone seems to forget that Peter Thiel from PayPal fame is an investor in Xero hence why PayPal is most likely the only option for now.

Rod Drury
5 October 2012 #

@Eddie that’s laugh out loud funny. Best conspiracy comment to date. We should have a prize for that.

Paypal is global and quite easy to add, which is why it was first. We’re working on a generic payment feature to make it easy to add other payment types.

We are also in discussion with banks as online banking does not make it easy to pay with online banking. For larger transactions small business owners do not want to pay a %age fee to a payment gateway. We think the banks have got behind here and we’re having those discussions.

Babu
5 October 2012 #

I was terribly excited when I read that XERO was finally setting up online invoices… now I’m just really annoyed.

a) Great to have a new feature, but please let US choose when it becomes enabled. Trying to figure out how it works or how to disable it on a busy work day is the last thing I want to do.
b) Agree with Evan and Ray: do what Freshbooks does with online invoices, and you’ll have the perfect deal. (I’m starting to regret I switched from Freshbooks to Xero).
c) Agree with all of Nigel’s comments: please don’t push XERO onto MY customers and please show us exactly what my customers receive/see (the updated blog post XERO added on October 1st was a bit late, and should have also been communicated by email, not just in the main blog’s comments. It also doesn’t address what happens when I enter a payment on an invoice, etc.).
d) Agree that branding on my invoices (and on the online invoice option) should be my business’ only, not XERO’s. I pay a (rather big) monthly fee for the service after all.
e) Very happy to see that XERO has posted a new blog on oct 3rd /sorry-we-scared-the-horses/ announcing the “PDF only” or “online invoice only” options and also apologising for the way the online invoicing was released.

I also noticed a bug which I thought I’d share here, so others can avoid it:
If you invoice your customers in a different currency than your own, you may notice that on the online invoice, top left, it will state “Outstanding Bills 12’345 USD” – so it lists the amount with the currency abbreviation of the client (in this case USD) when in fact the amount itself (12’345) is in my own currency, in this case NZ$. This is incorrect and very confusing to my clients.
When asking XERO to fix the bug, they initially replied I should just ” remove the link to Outstanding Bills from the Online Invoice in your Invoice Settings screen. For instructions on how to do this, please see the Help Centre link http://help.xero.com/#BillOnlineOptions. ” They later added “We have identified the issue you mention regarding the incorrect currency label and are working on getting this fixed. We anticipate that the fix will be rolled out early next week. That’s good news…
So I guess to avoid this problem meanwhile, make sure you remove the link!

GoPro
5 November 2012 #

I see in NZ Herald yesterday, a local company called Optimizer HQ is now offering per transaction costs of 2.75% for credit card payments… is there any way this lower cost service can be integrated in Xero invoicing as a payment option?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10844914

Andrew Tokeley
6 November 2012 #

@GoPro – yep, we are actively talking with a number of parties (including Optimizer HQ) to decide the best way forward and level of integration. Exciting times.

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