FreshBooks pushes the envelope in online billing

There’s a number of lightweight online invoicing services available, but one Toronto’s FreshBooks is seeking to differentiate itself with some interesting integration with other services.

FreshBooks, formed in 2004 and formerly called 2ndSite, today began allowing users to automatically send invoices to customers by US Postal Mail. Customers who have said they prefer not to use online billing will receive their invoices by first class mail with a window envelope inside for easy payment. The service has in introductory price of $1.09 per US invoice with bulk discounts. Customers receiving invoices by snail mail will be encouraged to go online for dispute resolution and to switch to online billing. BillMyClients is another online service that offers a postal mail delivery, but currently charges a higher per piece rate.

FreshBooks has also released an API for integration with other software and web services. Using the API, new client relationships and invoices can be created inside FreshBooks directly through other sites. Unfortunately the current API doesn’t allow for recurring billing to be set up, but FreshBooks says that’s on its way in the next API release. Competitor Blinksale (our coverage) is also working on releasing an API soon.

Finally, FreshBooks will soon offer integration with PipelineDeals, a pay-as-you go Salesforce competitor.

FreshBooks doesn’t compete with Blinksale by price, but integrating with other services including the good old physical world may be the new area of competition for this and other sectors of small business online.