One of the new features of QuickBooks 2012 is Intuit EasySaver, a service that Intuit is rolling out with the intent of saving YOU time and money when purchasing supplies and items for your business. I interviewed Parker Thomas of Intuit, who is the Senior Product Manager for EasySaver.
According to Parker, most small businesses “don’t have the negotiating power to get any sort of discount” when purchasing supplies or items that they resell. Time can also be a factor, as a small business owner just doesn’t have the time to research the best prices for these items. That is where Intuit EasySaver comes in, trying to use the aggregated power of all QuickBooks users to negotiate better prices.
EasySaver in QuickBooks
The place that I first noticed this was when editing an item. The EasySaver “pane” shows on the right of the screen. Note that you can hide this pane by clicking the small arrow (similar to how you can hide the “History” pane in invoices). Note that this will show up for inventory part and non-inventory part items only.
EasySaver looks at the item that you are editing and it tries to find similar items, which are displayed in the scrollable list along with the price. It may also use your past purchasing history as a part of it’s recommendation. You can select an item by checking the box and adding it to your shopping cart. If you click the see more items link in this pane you will be taken to the EasySaver web page where you will see a more detailed list of the recommended items, as well as a list of other categories you can search on the left.
You can also access the EasySaver web site by clicking on the EasySaver icon on the home page or through the Vendors menu.
To check out and pay for your items you will need an Intuit App Center account, and you will need to set up the Intuit EasySaver App.
The concept is group purchasing. Intuit is working with Rearden Commerce and a select group of vendors (which is expanding as time goes on) to provide you with what is hopefully a lower price for certain common items than what you might find by yourself. According to Parker Thomas, “just a few months of savings and you can cover the cost of your QuickBooks product”. You are getting access to the “QuickBooks buying club” simply because you are a user of QuickBooks.
Wait, I Don’t See This?
This is (in my words) another Intuit pilot project, where they are rolling out something in stages. Initially Intuit is limiting the number of users that will see this, which has confused some ProAdvisors when they don’t see it on THEIR system while their customers may see it. Intuit has focused on a limited group of customers, initially looking at manufacturers and wholesalers, looking to get feedback as they move forward. Also, the initial selection of items may be somewhat limited to certain areas, such as office supplies and items of interest to the initial classes of customers they are aiming at.
Note that this wasn’t available in the initial QuickBooks 2012 release – it was enabled in the R3 release.
Does It Work?
Unfortunately, I can’t evaluate how effective this program is at this time, since in my own business I am not purchasing a volume of items. I did double check a few simple items, though.
One recommendation from EasySaver was for some manila file folders from Office Depot. The EasySaver price was $4.48, while if I went to the Office Depot web site the same item was listed as $6.99 per box. Not bad, at least in a quick check. The “Savings” figure they listed is odd, but that isn’t a big problem.
I do recall in the early stages where this was being tested that there were several people commenting about how poor the recommendations were and how you didn’t really get any savings – but I believe that in those early stages the back end (the recommendations, the savings, the shopping cart) weren’t fully in place, the initial tests were more oriented towards the user interface and how this integrated with QuickBooks. From what I understand the service really wasn’t functional until October, and as I mentioned before it is being rolled out in phases.
Again, this is a pilot project and they are testing it out on us – in this case I can’t see how they would get around it because it does require a volume of users. That is hard to come up with an a “beta test” program.
Looking at it as of today I have a few small issues:
You can’t truly turn it ALL the way off: There is a preference that you can uncheck, and you even have a “turn off” link in the item window that will take you there. However, this doesn’t fully get rid of it. You still see the icon on the home page. You still see the EasySaver “pane” in the item window. You can close that pane, but it is still there. I found that annoying.
I don’t always have enough information in the item list for EasySaver to use to make a good match. I’ll have “printer paper” as an item with an equally simple description, rather than a specific item number or descriptive name. EasySaver is going to do a better job in finding a good match if you include details of the item. I’m wondering how many people do that in a small business?
I’ve said this kind of thing before, why didn’t Intuit tell ProAdvisors about this? Why do we have to hear about it from our clients first? It makes us look bad when a client asks about something new that pops up in QuickBooks that we have no clue about. I’ve seen a couple of complaints about this in various user forums. Yes, Intuit wanted to roll this out to a limited user base – couldn’t they have included ProAdvisors in that rollout? Or at least TELL us about it?
Why isn’t this integrated in the Purchasing process? Wouldn’t it make sense to have the EasySaver “pane” show when I’m creating a purchase order? That isn’t a big issue, but I’m just wondering. Do people really make their decisions on what to buy when they are in the Edit Item window? I don’t.
Time will tell if this ends up being useful. It is only going to work if the system provides good matches to your items and the savings are significant enough to get around the hassles of using it. The problem with a slow rollout of the kinds of items it provides is that if you don’t get a good selection of items up front then people are just going to turn it off. Intuit won’t keep this around for long if the volume stays low. In a way I like the concept for some businesses, we’ll have to see how it pans out.