Does paperwork make you cringe? Do your shoulders sag when you have to print, sign, scan, and email back a contract? Using electronic signatures can save you time, ink, and paper whenever you or your employees, customers, or suppliers need to authenticate invoices, contracts, tax forms, and other documents.
E-signature apps enable anyone to sign documents with a mouse, a stylus, or a finger via computer or mobile device. The tricky part is picking the right tool: Nearly 40 vendors sell software in this market, according to Forrester Research. So we narrowed the list to these five options.
If you want what everyone else is using: DocuSign dominates the market, which suggests the app will have longevity and be familiar to the greatest number of people. It’s battle-tested, plus its professional versions make it easy to request signatures from a group of people in a sequence. You can sign up for free but will be limited to just five signatures per month. If you need more than that, look into the version for sole proprietors, which costs $15 a month if you sign up for a year. You can also reuse templates and assign an order for multiple signatures. This app works on the Android and iOS.
If your customers and business partners use tablets: Autriv’s SignMyPad works across operating systems, including the Nook (other e-signature tools generally can be used only on iOS and/or Android mobile devices). With the app and your tablet, you can ask clients to sign a contract in person, on the spot. Pricing for the app begins at 99 cents and goes up to $19.99 if you want geo-tagging, which will record the location of your mobile device when the signature was made — a feature that could come in handy if any document gets disputed in court.
If you collect only a few signatures: SignNow offers a free option for users who need five or fewer John Hancocks each month. Over that level, the company charges by user ($15 per user a month if you pay for a year up-front, or $25 per user a month if you pay as you go). The app works on Android and iOS.
If you value simplicity: RightSignature focuses on small businesses. Easily upload your document, such as a PDF or Word file, to the app, and then create boxes where you want signatures. Your recipients will receive an email, prompting them to provide their signatures. You can also track the status of each signature and create online forms. The price is $49 per month (or $14 per month, with limited capabilities, for sole proprietors). Recipients must download the app before signing for the first time. RightSignature works with Android, BlackBerry, and iOS.
If you tend to make sales on the go: You no longer need to rely on cocktail napkins to quickly seal a deal. Available only for Android devices, the free Signature Capture App lets users take notes, add a signature at the bottom, and share the resulting PNG or JPG file via email.