How Sage compares to Xero and Unleashed

Investigating accounting and inventory software for your product business? See how Sage compares to Xero and Unleashed here.

Deciding how to manage your business’ operations and resources can be daunting. You want systems you can rely on for the foreseeable future — that empower growth, instead of holding your business back.

In this guide:

For many companies, accounting software is the first port of call. Among the numerous options

in the UK
it often boils down to a choice between Sage, Xero and QuickBooks.

Picking between these accounting systems can be tricky — especially if your business makes, manages or moves products. Why? Because you’ll also have to consider how to track and control inventory with each.

Here’s a straight comparison between Sage verses Xero, with Unleashed handling the inventory. Including the difference between all-in-one and best-of-breed systems, plus how they stack up on features, integrations, flexibility, price, onboarding and ease of use.

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Two different approaches to software: All-in-one vs best-of-breed

The first thing to note when comparing Sage to Xero and Unleashed is that they operate in different ways.

Sage vs Unleashed Xero ProspectSoft Image

Sage is an ‘all-in-one’ vendor. If you opt for Sage you’re investing in a single vendor that provides software solutions for multiple aspects of your business: accounting, inventory and more. The idea is you’ll use this vendor first and foremost, and very few other applications. For example if you chose Sage 50 or Sage 200 and needed a CRM solution you would need to pay for another Sage product, Sage CRM.

Xero and Unleashed are ‘best-of-breed’ solutions. Xero’s features, for example, help you achieve one thing: better accounting. You then integrate it with more best-of-breed apps for the other tasks you need. Xero isn’t intended to handle complex inventory management on its own. It doesn’t support functionality such as multiple warehouses, pricing strategies or bills of materials. Instead, you can integrate it with a solution that matches your needs. 

Combine Xero with Unleashed, and you get a feature-complete solution that can handle any inventory complexity – and as we’ll see below, comes with more inventory features than Sage.

Is managing multiple apps harder than a single solution?

Is integrating, maintaining and learning multiple solutions more of a hassle than buying Sage outright? At first glance, buying several apps instead of a single system can seem counter-intuitive. However it’s worth looking at the question more closely.

Integration

Best-of-breed software is built to work with other systems. Syncing solutions like Xero, Unleashed and Prospect is usually straightforward, and Unleashed buyers are guided through the integration process as part of their onboarding.

Because of this, best-of-breed implementations are often less disruptive than installing an all-in-one.

Maintenance

Best-of-breed software generally runs on a continuous improvement model. Unleashed for example rolls out upgrades and enhancements weekly. Neither Xero nor Unleashed charge for these, and they don’t require any installation by the user.

Sage also updates via the cloud, but does so on a yearly basis. Most Sage plans include unlimited yearly upgrades. However if you opt for a perpetual license you’ll need to pay to get on the latest version.

Learning

You will have to learn more than one system. But again, this won’t necessarily be any harder than learning an all-in-one.

All-in-one systems tend to be complicated because they have to cater to so many bases. With a best-of-breed approach, you can choose simpler systems when you don’t need added functionality.

We’re Unleashed, so naturally we’re going to support best of breed. But in truth, there are much more important things to base your decision on than hesitance over combining apps — such as features, price and flexibility.

If you’re still concerned about a best-of-breed approach, though, it’s worth doing some more research:

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Side-by-side feature comparison: Save vs Xero + Unleashed

If you choose Xero and Unleashed, you won’t use any of Xero’s inventory management features. So here, we can compare Sage’s inventory functionality directly with Unleashed’s.

Sage offers several products, each with a different suite of features. Here’s how Sage 50 Standard, Sage 50 Professional, Sage 200cloud and Sage 200cloud Professional stack up against Unleashed’s Standard plan.

50
Standard

50
Professional

200cloud
Standard

200cloud
Professional

Unleashed
Medium

Track and manage stock

Create sales and purchase orders

Multiple currencies

Price Tiers

Quotes

Bills of materials

Multiple stock locations

Warehouse management

Stock alerts

Landed cost tracking

Serial & Batch Tracking

Manufacturing

B2B eCommerce

Document designer

Flexible reporting

Advanced shipping

Sales app

‘Out of the box’ integrations compared

One significant benefit of Xero and Unleashed is their native integrations with other apps, including leading eCommerce and POS channels. These eliminate the task of manually entering details — instead, every new order syncs straight into your inventory system, ready to be fulfilled. Then, Unleashed sends the relevant information on to Xero.

You can connect Unleashed with Shopify, Vend, Magento, Amazon and more. These are native integrations, which means Unleashed ensures they’re up-to-date and functioning well – and they don’t require any third party work to get them running. Sage on the other hand doesn’t have managed integrations with any external eCommerce channels. It is possible to connect it up with Shopify, Vend and more, but these connections are made and maintained by third parties.


Pricing – which is more cost-effective?

Comparing Sage with any other solution on cost is complicated, chiefly because it doesn’t have fixed prices. At the time of writing, the listed base price for 50cloud Professional is £145 per month. Prices for 200cloud Standard are no longer advertised online, but generally start at a base cost of £290 per month, with additional fees for functionality like Bills of Materials, the manufacturing module, integrations and so on. Similarly, there are no publicly listed prices listed for Sage Professional.*

Again, these costs are variable, and are unlikely to match what you end up paying. Sage tends to build a specific package — with a specific price — for every new customer.

As a consequence choosing a package means evaluating your requirements today – and for the future.

The combined cost of Xero + Unleashed on a Standard plan is £282 per month. All Unleashed plans come with all the core Unleashed features – which means you can get an accounting + inventory solution with complete features and more flexibility for less than a Sage subscription.*

Comparing Sage with any other solution on cost is complicated, chiefly because it doesn’t have fixed prices. At the time of writing, the listed base price for 50cloud Professional is $276 per month. Prices for 200cloud Standard are no longer advertised online, but generally start at a base cost of $552 per month, with additional fees for functionality like Bills of Materials, the manufacturing module, integrations and so on. Similarly, there are no publicly listed prices listed for Sage Professional.*

Again, these costs are variable, and are unlikely to match what you end up paying. Sage tends to build a specific package — with a specific price — for every new customer.

As a consequence choosing a package means evaluating your requirements today – and for the future.

The combined cost of Xero + Unleashed on a Standard plan is $350 per month. All Unleashed plans come with all the core Unleashed features – which means you can get an accounting + inventory solution with complete features and more flexibility for less than a Sage subscription.*


Comparing Sage with any other solution on cost is complicated, chiefly because it doesn’t have fixed prices. At the time of writing, the listed base price for 50cloud Professional is $246 per month. Prices for 200cloud Standard are no longer advertised online, but generally start at a base cost of $492 per month, with additional fees for functionality like Bills of Materials, the manufacturing module, integrations and so on. Similarly, there are no publicly listed prices listed for Sage Professional.*

Again, these costs are variable, and are unlikely to match what you end up paying. Sage tends to build a specific package — with a specific price — for every new customer.

As a consequence choosing a package means evaluating your requirements today – and for the future.

The combined cost of Xero + Unleashed on a Standard plan is $410 per month. All Unleashed plans come with all the core Unleashed features – which means you can get an accounting + inventory solution with complete features and more flexibility for less than a Sage subscription.*

Comparing Sage with any other solution on cost is complicated, chiefly because it doesn’t have fixed prices. At the time of writing, the listed base price for 50cloud Professional is $171 per month. Prices for 200cloud Standard are no longer advertised online, but generally start at a base cost of $343 per month, with additional fees for functionality like Bills of Materials, the manufacturing module, integrations and so on. Similarly, there are no publicly listed prices listed for Sage Professional.*

Again, these costs are variable, and are unlikely to match what you end up paying. Sage tends to build a specific package — with a specific price — for every new customer.

The combined cost of Xero + Unleashed on a Standard plan is $380 per month. All Unleashed plans come with all the core Unleashed features giving you a complete accounting + inventory solution with more features and more flexibility.

Visit our pricing page

How are upgrades handled?

Sage, Xero and Unleashed all regularly update their software. Unleashed, for example, releases updates and enhancements weekly. Sage gets a new version on a yearly cycle.

If you sign up for one of the Sage plans listed above, you’ll get unlimited access to updates and improvements. If you have a perpetual licence, though, you’ll have to pay again to use the latest version — currently v28.

It’s important to be aware that older versions of Sage have a limited lifespan. For example Sage has announced that Sage 50 Accounts and Sage 50cloud v26.2 and older are being switched off on September 30, 2022. Anyone using these versions must either switch to a new provider or upgrade to a more recent version.

All Xero and Unleashed users get access to standard releases for free. Plus, there’s never any need to install anything to update the software.

Onboarding & implementation – costs and timeframes

Inventory management software requires careful implementation — so most vendors will provide an assisted onboarding service to get started. If you aren’t using expert help, then these services are indispensable, but the cost of onboarding is something any business should take into account when considering a new system.

Sage doesn’t publish any indication of how much implementation might cost. However reputable UK implementation specialists will charge £15k to £80k for a move or upgrade to Sage 200. This doesn’t consider any additional costs, like the price of servers, upgrades, or an annual support fee.

Unleashed’s onboarding service, known as ‘flightpath’, costs £329. With this service you’re allocated a dedicated Unleashed consultant to guide you through setup and help you get going. The current average time to get a new customer up and running on Unleashed in the UK is 9 weeks.

The CRM vendor Prospect also has a dedicated onboarding team, as well as Onboarding Experiences to get your whole team on board with the platform faster, right from the start.

Sage doesn’t publish any indication of how much implementation might cost. However reputable implementation specialists will charge $10k to $40k for a move or upgrade to Sage 200. This doesn’t consider any additional costs, like the price of servers, upgrades, or an annual support fee.

Unleashed’s onboarding service, known as ‘flightpath’, costs $449. With this service you’re allocated a dedicated Unleashed consultant to guide you through setup and help you get going. The current average time to get a new customer up and running on Unleashed is 13 weeks.

The CRM vendor Prospect also has a dedicated onboarding team, as well as Onboarding Experiences to get your whole team on board with the platform faster, right from the start.

Sage doesn’t publish any indication of how much implementation might cost. However reputable implementation specialists will charge $10k to $40k for a move or upgrade to Sage 200. This doesn’t consider any additional costs, like the price of servers, upgrades, or an annual support fee.

Unleashed’s onboarding service, known as ‘flightpath’, costs $449. With this service you’re allocated a dedicated Unleashed consultant to guide you through setup and help you get going. The current average time to get a new customer up and running on Unleashed is 14 weeks.

The CRM vendor Prospect also has a dedicated onboarding team, as well as Onboarding Experiences to get your whole team on board with the platform faster, right from the start.

Sage doesn’t publish any indication of how much implementation might cost. However reputable implementation specialists will charge $10k to $40k for a move or upgrade to Sage 200. This doesn’t consider any additional costs, like the price of servers, upgrades, or an annual support fee.

Unleashed’s onboarding service, known as ‘flightpath’, costs $449. With this service you’re allocated a dedicated Unleashed consultant to guide you through setup and help you get going. The current average time to get a new customer up and running on Unleashed is 10 weeks.

The CRM vendor Prospect also has a dedicated onboarding team, as well as Onboarding Experiences to get your whole team on board with the platform faster, right from the start.

Flexibility of the systems

The fundamental question here is whether you want to tailor your software to your processes or change your processes to match your software.

Sage vs Xero App Marketplace

You can choose from over 1000 integrations on Xero’s App Marketplace. Sage, meanwhile, lists only 170 – many of which are via connection tools such as Zapier. The desktop versions of Sage don’t have an API so come with very few integrations.

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That isn’t necessarily an issue — it reflects the company’s all-in-one philosophy. Instead of integrating with external apps the software comes with in-built functionality for core tasks such as CRM, HR and inventory management. So their API approach is less open than that of Xero and Unleashed.

It does, however, result in two significant downsides:

  1. You may end up paying for features you don’t use
  2. Your systems won’t be as customisable

Upgrading to 200 Professional to access the manufacturing module, for example, might mean paying for a package that includes features you’ll never use.

And if you do want a CRM that integrates with your other tools, rather than go with an industry leading CRM you’ll have to choose Sage’s offering, which might not match your business’s specific requirements. With Xero and Unleashed, you can choose one that does.

It isn’t just lack of choice over essential business tools, either. There are hundreds of add-ons on Xero’s Marketplace that bring new functionality or remove manual tasks. These enable you to create a system that is personalised to your business goals. With an all-in-one, that opportunity disappears.

Hardware and access issues

To access Sage 50 or Sage 200 you’ll need to install a launcher on every device you plan to use to access the system. So while Sage does host your data in the cloud, you won’t be able to access Sage from any computer. That makes it much harder to run your business from outside the office or enable staff to work from home.

Xero, Unleashed and other best-of-breed applications are 100% cloud based. All you’ll need to access them is an internet connection, a browser and your login details.

Giving access to accountants is also more difficult with Sage, usually requiring a manual transfer via USB, Dropbox or Sage Drive. This creates a separate set of data, which can cause headaches for your accountant. With Unleashed, your accountant can get free access to your live data (with your approval). Xero HQ also makes sharing access straightforward.

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Comparing ease of use

Assessing the usability of a solution is always difficult, as different users have different tastes and are used to things being laid out or set up in a certain way. But here are how a few Unleashed customers compare the ease of use between Unleashed and Sage:

“We tried using Sage but were limited by its inability to track stock and we found that it wasn’t accurately reflecting our costs. We had an idea of what kind of inventory management software we wanted: it had to be easy for everyone at work to use, integrate with Xero and Vend, and provide accuracy and transparency across the business. Unleashed was the solution that best fitted our requirements.” Read their story here

– Enterprise Ethanol, South Africa – moved from Sage 50 Pastel

“The main difference between our old setup and using Unleashed is the speed of order processing. Before, we had a 3-4 part process to send order documents to our customers. Now, this can all be done from one screen with three clicks of a button!”

– Caremed Healthcare, moved from Sage 50 Professional

“Using Sage, we had a lot of stock-related issues. Now, we have so much more control and insight.”

– Seven Bro7hers Brewery, moved from Sage 50 Professional

Trialing each platform

Xero and Unleashed both offer free trials: 30 days for Xero, and 14 days for Unleashed. To see which solution will work best for your business, it’s a good idea to sign up and get as many people using the software as possible.

As well as trialing each solution, you can set up a discovery call with a consultant at each provider. They’ll be able to guide you through which features you need and point you in the direction of another option if it suits your requirements better.

Start your Unleashed trial here — you’ll get 14 days to test out our software (including the integration with Xero), with no credit card needed. Sign up now

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*All prices excluding VAT