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This article was published on February 8, 2011

FreshBooks launches official add-on store

FreshBooks launches official add-on store
Brodie Beta
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Brodie Beta

Brodie Beta is a technology enthusiast with a passion for gadgets, media and anything related to the Web. She has worked in communications Brodie Beta is a technology enthusiast with a passion for gadgets, media and anything related to the Web. She has worked in communications and media for the past nine years. Follow her on twitter here .

FreshBooks, a leading Canadian invoicing company has just rolled-out its official FreshBooks add-on store.

Toronto-based FreshBooks offers a service for online accounting, invoicing, billing and expense management and it’s full of tools for businesses including PayPal integration.

The FreshBooks add-on store brings users a series of additional tools that can be used to enhance their current FreshBooks experience, and it also creates a new venue for developers that can now offer both paid and free add-ons to the healthy 2 million + FreshBooks community.

The new store, now available directly within the FreshBooks app, aims to extend the value of FreshBooks with its add-ons without over complicating their core product. In other words, users can download the tools they find useful as opposed to having to deal with a myriad of features and options within the FreshBooks software.

It is our belief that the Add-on Store gives us an opportunity to finally service customers who have requests on the edges–ones that introduce complexity–without getting in the way of the majority of our customers and their workflow. That’s why we decided to open the door for third-party developers to help our customers get the most out of FreshBooks.

We had a chance to speak with Sunir Shah, Head of Platform at FreshBooks and he told us why they’re calling it an “add-on” store as opposed to an app store. Shah used the analogy of a hair salon to explain the FreshBooks add-on model, and described how hair salons are the future of SaaS.

Hair salons are the future of SaaS. In most hair salons, one person owns the salon and the other hair and nail stylists are separate businesses. For the privilege of using the salon space, each pays a percentage of their sales to the owner of the salon.

Shah says stylists are able to sell clients products at a higher cost for a few reasons, despite the fact that the client could likely buy the hair care products at a cheaper rate somewhere else. First off, the client is already at the salon so the purchase is convenient and secondly, the client probably trusts the stylist to inform them on the right products. “SaaS is not much different.” Shah said.

They all have their own loyal customers they bring into the salon. They cross-sell these customers to each other, which is both lucrative and a better experience for a customer looking for one stop spa treatment… FreshBooks may win a customer through our direct marketing, but then we can sell related third-party tied services and products.

The FreshBooks add-ons tie into the full rich experience of FreshBooks, and it’s similar to how a service such as a nail manicure provides the full spa experience within a salon Shah stated. He also tells us that “customers who use add-ons are three times more likely to purchase a paid FreshBooks account”.

There are currently five add-ons available in the FreshBooks add-on store including one called ReportAway! that allows users to manage their account while on the go from their BlackBerry for $2 a month. The add-ons are subscription based and as Acire Systems, the creators of ReportAway! pointed out, this model makes it possible to provide on-going support for customers.

Unlike the one-time balloon payment model of most online stores, this helps me plan to support customers for a long time. -Randy Jones, owner of Acire Sytems

The add-on store has both free and monthly subscriptions that can be purchased as a single license for individual users or as a group account. Add-ons will be sold directly through FreshBooks similar to the iOS store and developers/publishers are required to give FreshBooks a 30 percent cut in revenue.

This new model allows our partners to sell solutions our customers are demanding. Promoting Add-ons inside FreshBooks and making it simple for customers to buy them will dramatically expand sales for our partners and help us better service our customers who we are fanatical about. -Sunir Shah, Head of Platform at FreshBooks