Intuit Overhauls QuickBooks Online as Competition for Small Businesses Ramps Up
Intuit today is unveiling a drastic overhaul of its QuickBooks Online accounting software for small businesses. The redesign takes visual cues from Mint.com, the personal finance website that Intuit acquired in 2009, and lets business owners toggle on Intuit’s payments and payroll tools with essentially one click.
The redesign was critical for Intuit, since it expects by the end of this fiscal year to have more new customers sign up for the online version of QuickBooks than the desktop version.
It also comes at a time in which the market to serve small businesses with software has heated up, with young companies such as Square, Belly and Shopify competing for increasingly overlapping parts of the market.
Essentially, many different categories of companies serving small businesses are zeroing in on a handful of goals: To help small businesses accept all kinds of payment methods, bring in new customers, manage those customer relationships, communicate with them easily, and retain them for a low cost.
To this end, Intuit said its goal is to build an operation system for small businesses that other developers and companies can plug into rather easily. It wants small businesses to be able to pick and choose technologies to manage their operations, with Intuit software tying it all together at the core.
But it has also exhibited a desire to own more of the ecosystem. Last year, for example, it purchased marketing software company Demandforce for more than $400 million.
And, as more small-business-focused companies expand their reach, it’ll be interesting to watch how Intuit’s approach may change.
Square, for example, started off by serving one-person businesses that wanted to accept credit cards, and has since moved to target small retail shops with software tools, and then to help those businesses sell online.
So, this summer, I asked Square CEO Jack Dorsey if he could envision a day in which his company would expand its services to the point that it would challenge QuickBooks head-on. He said, in short, that Square would continue to look for gaps in the small-business market where innovation was needed. Translation: Don’t rule it out.