I’ve mentioned Shoeboxed quite a few times here on DocumentSnap as a good way to handle receipts and business cards if you don’t have the time or the equipment to do the scanning yourself.
Basically how it works is you take your receipts, business cards, and other documents and put them into a pre-paid (usually- more on that later) envelope. You drop them in the mail, and then Shoeboxed does the scanning and processing for you.
I hadn’t used the service too much myself in the past because a) I don’t get too many business cards and b) for some reason, I had it in my head that the service was only available in the United States and since I am in Canada, I thought I was out of luck.
It turns out that I was (as so often is the case) wrong, and that the only thing you need to be in the US for is to use the pre-paid envelopes. You are more than welcome to use Shoeboxed if you are in another country, you just have to pay the postage yourself. Seems fair enough.
So with that new revelation, I decided to check the service out in the interests of science.
Signing up is pretty simple. They have four plans, including a free one. The free one lets you upload and manage your documents, but of course they won’t actually scan your documents for you. From there it goes from $9.95/month up to $49.95/month depending on how much volume you have and what extras you need. They have a 30 day free trial too, and you can actually send stuff in for the trial.
To sign up, you just give your name, email, address, and you are good to go.
Once you get into the interface for the first time, you have a side menu where you can upload receipts and pre-set up some of the stores that you shop at, your credit cards, and set up your categories.
The slightly weird thing is that you can manually upload receipts, but I couldn’t see how you can manually upload business cards or documents. You have to actually send those in.
Speaking of categories, I like how it gives you a set up default categories to work from instead of having to come up with your own. You can, of course, change the defaults as you see fit.
As far as setup goes, I decided not to pre-set up any stores or credit cards because I wanted to see how Shoeboxed would handle things right out of the gate.
What I Sent
On 9/23/2010 I put the following documents in an envelope and dropped it in the mail.
What I sent:
- White 8×11 typed document
- White 8×11 document typed with Comic Sans (yeahhhh)
- White 8×14 document with lots of graphics
- Green 8×14 document double sided typed
- Blue 8×11 document single sided
- Horizontal Business card
- Vertical Business card
- White 8×11 document with handwriting
- 3 receipts, one with a survey at the top
So for those counting along at home, that is 6 documents, 3 receipts, and 2 business cards.
I thought about leaving some staples in some of the documents, but decided that wouldn’t be nice so I pulled all the staples before sending it in.
Notification of Receipt
On 9/30/2010 I received an email from Shoeboxed saying that the envelope had been received. That’s five business days which is pretty impressive considering the fact that I mailed it from Canada. I would expect that using a pre-paid envelope within the United States would be much faster.
They said they would email when the envelope was processed, or when you log in there is an Envelope Status section that tells you where things are.
I received an email that my envelope was processed on 10/4/2010, so that is 4 elapsed days or 2 business days. Whether that is too long for you is a decision that is yours. I personally would be fine with it. The higher tier account that you have the faster their turnaround time is, so I assume they prioritize processing of Business and Classic accounts.
When you first log in to Shoeboxed, it shows your last five receipts. Since I only sent in three, it obviously will only show three here.
First off I was impressed that they had the vendors and amounts right even though I did no pre-setup at all.
The scanned receipts come out clear and you can click on each receipt to see the details associated with it. For me, it pre-populated the Vendor, Date, and Total amount. You can click to edit the tax, shipping/handling, currency, and itemize the receipt if you want.
Once you have your receipts how you want them, you can send them to Quicken, Excel, Quickbooks, MYOB, Outright, or Evernote. You can also create an invoice from them with Freshbooks, which is handy if you are someone that has to bill your expenses.
Again, the scanning was very clear on both the front and back of the card. The name, title, company, email, and phone numbers were pre-populated. For one of the cards, it populated the city, country, and postal code but not the actual street address.
At first I thought this was a Shoeboxed error, but then I realized that there is a setting for business cards to “Collect street address from my business cards” which I did not check. My bad!
There’s an option to export the cards to Evernote which is handy.
As you might have seen in an earlier screenshot, the Documents menu has a “Beta” tag, so it is a bit of a work in progress.
Anything that you send them that is not a receipt or a business card will go into the Documents section. All the documents that I sent them appeared with titles and, as a nice touch, the date was the date in the document, not the date that they scanned it (even for the handwritten document).
All of the documents were scanned well, although they were greyscale. The blue and green paper showed up as grey. Not a big deal but just something to be aware of.
For each document you can edit the title and date and add notes.
One document that I sent in was multi-sheet, and it appeared in Shoeboxed as two separate documents. I am not sure if they would have put them together if I had paper clipped them. Fortunately, they thought of this and have an easy “Merge Documents” feature to put things back together.
Unfortunately you can’t yet export documents to Evernote. Hopefully that will be coming soon.
If you’d like, you can have stores such as Amazon send your receipts and ads to your Shoeboxed email address and they will appear in your “Shopping Inbox” section. Then if any of the emails are receipts, you can mark it and they will extract the receipt data. For some, it will automatically do so. As I was typing this I forwarded an Apple Store email to my Shoeboxed address, and before I was finished the post I had a new receipt in the system all properly tagged. Pretty cool.
Getting Your Stuff Back
If you want to have your paper receipts and documents mailed back to you, you’ll need to subscribe to either the Classic or Business plan. In all cases, you have the option to tell them to shred your documents for you.
Getting Data Out
Those of you who have read DocumentSnap for a while know that I am big on being able to get your data out if you are using a web service.
For receipts, you can export each individual receipt to PDF or Evernote. You can also group export a bunch of receipts to a number of different formats (that I outlined earlier), and choose to export all receipts or only certain categories.
For business cards, you can export your cards to Evernote, Constant Contact, Jigsaw, or to a CSV. I didn’t see a way to export a business card to a PDF, but maybe I am blind.
For documents, you can export each document as PDF. There isn’t yet a way (that I could see) to export all of your documents at once, but since Documents is still in Beta, I am sure that is coming.
All in all, I really like Shoeboxed. If you are someone who works with a lot of receipts or business cards, it is definitely something you want to check out. Give their free trial a whirl and see how you like it.
Do you have experience with Shoeboxed? Let us know in the comments how you like it.
Update: Shoeboxed has released a free iPhone app that acts as a business card scanner. It’s pretty slick.
I just want to say I really enjoyed your article. It was a really thorough breakdown of Shoeboxed, and how the application works.
One thing I want to add is that there is actually another application that integrates with Shoeboxed (the integration is brand new). It's a free online accounting application called Wave Accounting. Shoeboxed actually just wrote about it on their blog: http://bit.ly/Leoi0c
I'd definitely recommend you check it out, as it might be a good addition to the blog post.
If you have any questions about it, I'd be happy to answer them for you.
Wave Community Manager