To run a successful retail business, retailers need to keep detailed records.
These records need to track not only what you sell, but advertising, inventory management, market research, customers, pricing, supplier information, expenses, income, taxes, cash flow, payroll, and product merchandising.
Since doing all of that by hand would be a chore, you need to find the best accounting software to help keep track of the important financial documents that could make or break your retail business.
In this guide, we’ll cover the importance of retail accounting software, what to look for, and review some of the benefits and features to help you narrow down your options.
What is retail accounting software?
The retail business is no different from any other business and has its own unique needs and practices.
Some of these practices include inventory tracking, time and expense tracking, tax compliance, sales performance, managing payments, custom pricing, and financial planning.
Retail accounting software automates, integrates, and streamlines financial operations to make your retail business run more efficiently.
This eliminates the tedious task of entering data repetitively which saves you time and money.
Who uses retail accounting software?
Retail is the sale of goods for consumption or use. Even before, small business had their own way of doing their accounting.
These exchanges take place in shops, markets, through door-to-door salespeople, internet retailers, supermarkets, and department stores.
These retail businesses generally fall into two categories: brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce stores.
How can accounting software help retailers?
Accounting software helps retail businesses in various ways.
Some of these include the following:
- Manage inventory
- Track sales taxes
- Sync sales across multiple channels
- Manage payroll
- Automate accounting processes
- Accept online payments
- Provide key metrics to measure sales performance
- Tax management
- Financial planning
- Financial reporting
- Provide sales data
- Create professional invoices
- Manage bills
- Manage vendor payments
How we evaluated retail accounting software
We examined accounting programs that were tailored to retail businesses based on an independent assessment methodology.
We also reviewed accounting software that was useful for retailers based on the type of retail business, number of users, features, scalability, and integrations.
Questions to ask when choosing retail accounting software
Choosing the best accounting software for your retail business can be an overwhelming process.
Below are some questions to point you in the right direction when choosing accounting software for your retail business:
- Is the accounting software designed with retail in mind?
- Does the accounting software include payroll, and if so, is there an additional fee?
- Is the accounting software cloud-based?
- Does the accounting software track inventory?
- How many users does it support, and does it have multiple access levels?
- What are its reporting capabilities?
- Does it have multichannel capabilities?
- Do I want the accounting software to track sales tax?
- Do I need the accounting software to cater more to brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, or both?
- Will the accounting software integrate with my POS system?
How to choose retail accounting software
When searching for accounting software, there are several features that are geared specifically toward retailers that you will want to consider.
The accounting software should either include the following features or be capable of integrating with associated business systems.
1. Inventory management
Inventory management controls the number of products in stock so you can minimize overhead and maximize profit.
2. Supply chain management
Supply chain management has the capability of managing orders, including fulfilling orders and processing returns.
3. Point of sale
Point of sale has the capability of scanning barcodes, processing payments, generating reports, and managing special orders.
Reports are used for insights and analysis on sales performance, purchasing trends, and financial status.
5. Multichannel capabilities
“Multichannel” means that the software has the capability of monitoring and updating sales on multiple channels.
CRM has the capability of linking transactions with your marketing and sales activities.
What are the top picks for retail accounting software in 2023?
Certain accounting software solutions offer features that are geared more toward retail businesses than others.
In the section below, we’ve reviewed the top picks to hopefully narrow down your search based on the specific needs of your retail business.
1. NetSuite ERP – Best scalable software for retail business
NetSuite ERP is a cloud-based ERP solution designed for fast-growing mid to large-sized businesses and is the best accounting software for retail business growth.
The platform is a combination of financial management, fixed assets, revenue management, billing, order management, and inventory management tools, making it a well-rounded software.
The software outshines its competitors when it comes to the order-to-cash process where sales and fulfillment are tied to pricing, thanks to the order management feature.
Inventory management is another area where NetSuite ERP excels and works to fine-tune the cost to minimize overhead and maximize profit when moving stock in and out.
The real advantage here is that retailers have complete visibility of their supply chain at all times.
The pricing plans are tailored to the needs of your retail business, so the plans increase as your business grows, and NetSuite ERP provides plenty of applications and tools needed to support growing businesses.
NetSuite ERP was specifically designed to support business growth by developing a system that was capable of adding and customizing additional functions without the need for third-party apps.
- No pricing info
2. Shoeboxed – Best app for scanning and organizing receipts
When you own a retail business that’s interacting with customers day in and day out, it can be an often fruitless attempt to organize receipts from business expenses and keep up with copies of customer receipts.
No matter how hard you try, organizing paper copies of receipts so that you can easily access them in the event of a dispute or audit is an overwhelming task.
Shoeboxed’s receipts capture feature makes it easy to record transactions on the go. Online receipts from purchases can also be imported automatically from Gmail to your Shoeboxed account.
If you want a clear look into your money, you can stay on top of your business finances by creating expense reports. Creating an expense report with Shoeboxed is easy—simplysearch, edit by category or vendor, and manage receipts in just a few clicks.
With Shoeboxed, employees can make custom financial reports with receipts attached if they ever need to be reimbursed for business expenses or have a detailed report of the expenses they incurred that month.
Come tax time, your retail business will be out of the fire thanks to Shoeboxed’s automatic categorization of receipts into 15 different tax categories, which you can edit as needed to suit your retail business.
Additionally, whenever you are on the move to deliver orders or restock inventory, Shoeboxed’s free mileage tracker for business mileage keeps tabs on distance traveled.
Last, but not least, Shoeboxed integrates with other accounting tools and software designed for retailers, like QuickBooks, to make the transition smooth.
To start managing your business receipts, simply put your receipts into Shoeboxed’s prepaid Magic Envelope and mail them to the processing center to be transformed into digital data.
- Start up: $18/month (if paid annually)
- Professional: $36/month (if paid annually)
- Business: $54/month (if paid annually)
- 30-day free trial
3. FreshBooks – Best software for e-commerce businesses
While FreshBooks is a great pick for retail accounting in general, it’s also the best retail accounting software for e-commerce businesses.
The reason FreshBooks is such a good option for e-commerce retail businesses is that it can integrate with some of the top-rated e-commerce services such as Squarespace, Big Commerce, Magento, and Shopify.
Other features include online invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, project management, online payments, accounting reports, and tax compliance.
Retailers can also easily access FreshBooks from anywhere at any time with its cloud-based accounting software and mobile app.
- Lite: $6.80/month billed annually
- Plus: $12/month billed annually
- Premium: $22/month billed annually
- Select: contact vendor for pricing
- 30-day free trial
4. QuickBooks Online – Best software for app integrations
QuickBooks Online is one of the best retail accounting software for app integrations.
There are plenty of third-party integrations that seamlessly work well with QuickBooks.
In fact, QuickBooks Online integrates with over 750 business apps, and included in these apps are ones specifically catered to retail businesses such as customer order management, e-commerce management, inventory management, purchase order management, sales, and shipping apps.
There are also apps in general for attracting customers, managing the workforce, managing the business, and tax compliance.
By connecting with apps such as PayPal, Shopify, Shoeboxed, and Square, QuickBooks Online makes the whole retail experience a much simpler process.
All of the different retail business processes such as sales, expenses, and transactions are centralized in one platform.
In addition to the best app integrations, QuickBooks Online also has some standout features such as inventory management, extensive reporting capabilities, sales tax tracking, e-commerce accounting, and a mobile app.
- Simple Start: $15/month
- Essentials: $27.50/month
- Plus: $42.50/month
5. Sage 50Cloud – Best software for inventory tracking
Sage 50Cloud Accounting is a comprehensive, customizable accounting software designed for retail businesses that need robust inventory tracking capabilities.
One of the best features of Sage’s accounting software is the advanced capabilities of the inventory tracking feature where retailers can monitor their stock levels.
Retailers can do this by using multiple inventory methods, creating product assemblies, and setting minimum stock and reorder points.
Not only is inventory set up in real-time, but there is also real-time visibility and insights with cash flow where it’s monitored with an automated dashboard, and invoices can be created, sent, and tracked in real-time.
Sage’s accounting software also includes payroll that automatically calculates payroll tax deductions.
- Pro Accounting: $34.30/month
- Premium Accounting: $55.20/month
- Quantum Accounting: $91.45/month
6. Xero – Best software for brick-and-mortar stores and unlimited users
Xero’s combination of integrations and features makes it an ideal retail accounting software for brick-and-mortar stores.
Inventory management is offered on its lowest tier—which is pretty rare for accounting software—and it integrates with EPOS systems such as Revel, Square, and Vend.
For retail businesses that need to give multiple employees access to the accounting software, there’s no better option than Xero.
Xero allows for unlimited users at every price tier, which makes this software stand out among its competitors.
Other software allows for fewer users at lower pricing tiers and increases the number of users in the higher-priced brackets.
Permission levels can be set for each user, and Xero logs every action made by a user.
If you have multiple employees who require access to the accounting software, Xero will save you quite a bit of money.
Xero has a simple layout, it’s easy to use, and it has customizable reports and dashboards.
- Early: $3.25/month
- Growing: $9.25/month
- Established: $17.50/month
- 30-day free trial
7. Zoho – Best software with mobile accounting apps
When the apps are just about as good as the browser-based version, that’s really saying something.
That’s why Zoho was chosen as the best accounting software with mobile apps.
The Android and iOS versions consist of similar tools to the online version, except they’re designed with different systems for navigation.
The apps offer a very comprehensive list of features:
- Cash flow
- Income & expense tracking
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
- Data storage
- Time tracking
- No pricing info
8. Wave – Best free software for retailers
Wave is the best free accounting software for retailers.
The software is a great option for micro-businesses and retailers with less than 10 employees.
Wave is a financial management system that manages invoicing, accounting, and bookkeeping all in one platform.
Their invoicing capabilities are particularly appealing with unlimited invoicing, customizable payment terms and templates, and a dedicated invoicing mobile app.
Wave accepts credit cards and bank payments online and tracks income and expenses.
The only time you will run into any fees is if you utilize their payroll application or Wave Payments.
9. Gusto – Best software for payroll
Gusto is designed as an HR platform that simplifies the complex process of payroll, benefits, and financial management.
With Gusto, you get features for nationwide workers’ compensation insurance, payroll, and 401ks.
The platform not only automates payroll, but also automates the payment, calculation, and submission of your retail business’s payroll taxes, ensures ACA compliance, and takes care of year-end forms.
Gusto also features detailed payroll reports, multiple pay schedules and PTO options, digital paystubs, employee self-enrollment, contractor payments, unlimited payroll, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, health savings accounts, reimbursements, time-off tracking, and hourly and salary computations.
In short, this retail accounting software option simplifies the administration of benefits and streamlines HR.
The automation process saves time and makes payroll management error-free.
- Simple: $40/month + $6/month per person
- Plus: $60/month + $9/month per person
- Premium: Request a quote
Frequently asked questions
Yes, QuickBooks Online is a great option for retailers, especially since it integrates with so many business apps.
The main goal of accounting software is to have all of your accounting-related data centralized in one system so that you can run your retail business more efficiently.
Retail accounting software automates, integrates, and streamlines financial operations with business operations to save time when running a retail business.
A combination of retail business accounting software and core accounting features that focus on the financial aspect of the business.
Retail accounting software enables retailers to manage their bottom line better.
Since all of the numbers are right at your fingertips, you can see how your retail business is performing at any given time.
The right accounting software will maximize productivity, efficiency, and profits.
Caryl Ramsey has years of experience assisting in different aspects of bookkeeping, taxes, and customer service. She uses a variety of accounting software for setting up client information, reconciling accounts, coding expenses, running financial reports, and preparing tax returns. She is also experienced in setting up corporations with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.
Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service with receipt management software that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!
You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt tracker + receipt scanner app (iPhone, iPad, and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.
Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.
Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports, and more—with Shoeboxed.
Try Shoeboxed today!