Intuit updates QuickBooks to help small businesses manage inventory and more

The company also now helps businesses borrow money

QuickBooks Online, Intuit's service for small business accounting, is now set up to better help businesses focused on selling products.

Karen Peacock, the company's vice president of small business, said product-based businesses like retailers and e-commerce merchants make up nearly half of all small businesses worldwide, but that cloud-based accounting systems haven't served them well.

Intuit's online accounting software now supports different product categories, and tracking different products by SKU number. It can also track how much inventory a company has on hand, while creating an invoice so it can better know what to charge and when to reorder different products. In the future, Peacock said, Intuit plans to add automatic re-ordering of products and the ability to create bundle discounts. 

Through its developer platform, Intuit has partnered with e-commerce providers like BigCommerce and Shopify, along with an integration for QuickBooks Point-of-Sale, a physical retail sales system. With those integrations, sales will automatically connect to QuickBooks Online, so business owners can see the impact of their sales on their inventory and finances.

Interestingly, Intuit hasn't yet partnered with third party marketplaces like Ebay, Etsy or Amazon to help with inventory management, even though all of them are popular options for providing small businesses with a digital storefront. Those integrations may come in the future, however. 

"We have an open platform, so we're open to integrating with anyone and everyone who obviously meets certain criteria in terms of security and things like that," Peacock said. 

Overall, the company has seen massive interest from independent software developers to build apps that integrate with QuickBooks. Over the past year, Intuit went from 308 apps integrating with its platform to more than 1,500. To continue driving growth, the company has devoted $4 million to help developers promote apps that they're building on the QuickBooks platform. 

Intuit will double the funds that developers invest in co-marketing campaigns, starting by providing $20,000 for companies that put in $10,000 and scaling to provide $40,000 investments for qualifying companies that put in $20,000.

On top of the inventory news, Intuit is partnering with lenders to help small businesses get loans. QuickBooks will simplify the process of getting a loan by giving business owners the ability to fill out a single questionnaire and get access to a wealth of different funding options. Small businesses will also be able to easily share their accounting information from QuickBooks, which should improve the chances of getting applications approved.

According to Peacock, two-thirds of small businesses that apply for a loan using their QuickBooks data get approved, compared to one-third of small businesses that get approved for loans overall.

Those companies that seek loans through the new process will maintain control over what information they share, according to Intuit. Business owners will be able to review the information that's getting sent out before it's submitted, and redact information that they don't want to share. Of course, redacting too much information may reduce a business's chance of getting a loan. 

The partnerships have a chance to benefit lenders, small businesses and Intuit all at once. Lenders can get access to detailed information that should help them make more informed decisions about who to give money to. Businesses, meanwhile, have an easier way to pick up a loan, which should help propel their businesses forward. Intuit gets a new revenue stream, since the company will be paid for its role as the loan broker in that whole transaction. 

All of these moves are a sign of what Intuit is doing to try and weather the transition from providing boxed software to providing and monetizing services for small business finances. All of this news comes amid the QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, California, where the company is showing off its latest updates to users of its small business product. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

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