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Receipt Archiving with Shoeboxed and DropBox

By Glenn Drake - 27th January 2011

The shoebox crammed full of receipts is an all too familiar site for many business owners. Once the receipt enters its shoebox coffin it is likely never to see the light of day again. It's perhaps no surprise that the aptly named Shoeboxed receipt archiving service has been such a success. Shoeboxed enables you to send all your receipts in a sealed envelope to a digitisation centre. The receipts are scanned and made instantly available in the cloud. In fact, for an additional fee they can even extract the textual data from the receipt using a combination of OCR and foreign labour (One would speculate). These newly digitised receipts can be indexed, archived and dropped into accounting systems for further reporting and tax calculations.

What's more, and really the main focus of this article, Shoeboxed have an I-Phone App where you can snap your receipts on the move and send them straight up to the cloud. After a few freebie uploads you can purchase credits to have your receipts tagged with all the pertinent information...supplier name, total, tax etc. I have to say the concept is fantastic and despite a few glitches it works pretty well! When I say glitches I am referring to the odd typo/OCR error when it comes to the spelling of the supplier name for example. That said the actual numbers have been spot on so far and the receipts are transcribed within the hour in the majority of cases.

When I bought my I Phone 4 last year (yes I was one of those mugs who shamelessly queued for over an hour) one of the things that made this device so different to any smart phone I'd seen before was the camera. Naturally the first thing I wanted to test it on was a receipt stuffed away in my back pocket. The camera reproduced every crinkle in glorious 5 mega pixel detail. Most importantly you could still read all the text...even the small print.

One of the first I-Phone apps I came across was DropBox. For those of you unfamiliar, DropBox is like a virtual hard drive in the cloud. You can install DropBox on your PC and Smart Phone and then drag your documents straight in from the device you are using. You can create sub folders and open up access to your friends to view or change the files. DropBox works tirelessly in the background to synchronise all the files across your multiple devices. With 1 GB of free storage space there was the potential to save 1000s of digitised receipts and with the I-Phone App you can snap the receipt on the move and quickly discard the original. My accountant has access to my monthly receipts folder thus simplifying the bookkeeping process.

So there you have it...Two ways to solve a fairly common record keeping problem. Shoeboxed with all its bells and whistles is designed specifically for this purpose and does it very well! DropBox on the other hand is more of a hack workaround but is painless to use and gives you huge storage capacity. In fact pretty much anything and everything ends up in DropBox these days...Receipts, contracts, letters, parking tickets. I'm afraid my shoe box has now become surplus to requirement.