How to Send Invoices Without Paper

By Marc Price | October 6, 2021
About Marc

Going paper-free without the risk

We are living in a time where business conditions are quickly evolving. Such changes have been spurred not only by COVID restrictions but also by the automation of various time-consuming and inefficient processes such as sending out paper invoices. If we think about all of the inefficiencies of having to print the invoice, deliver it, and manually track the receipt, we can see why e-invoicing is a much more attractive option. Imagine not being dependent on postal delivery times or having the ability to reach customers wherever they may be in a time of a pandemic. Let’s explore the many benefits of paperless invoicing by comparing them with the physical invoice approach, starting with the challenges posed by postal delivery.

Dealing With Postal Delivery Challenges

We have learned a new way to work, and organizations need to capture the lessons of accommodating a more efficient workflow. For example, recent studies show that, 1 in 4 Americans are expected to work remotely through 2021. Gartner is expecting the remote work culture to continue into 2022 with 47% of knowledge workers doing their jobs from home next year. This means that if your invoice needs to be delivered by post, there’s a good chance that it won’t make it to the recipient on time, if at all. This puts a lot of strain on the invoicing process since it’s less common to confirm the receipt of paper invoices and track their open rates.

In addition to this, you need to keep in mind that when you send out paper invoices, you are basically at the mercy of the post office. This is not a very good position to be in since 1 in 5 pieces of mail in the US arrives late. We are also seeing similar delays in the UK and countries in the Eurozone. Therefore, not only do business owners have to deal with all of these delivery changes, but they also have to incur the costs of sending out these invoices and all of the time-consuming processes that come with it.

However, according to a study by the Hackett Group, world-class organizations that deploy an automation solution have fewer errors and disputes and demonstrate a 10% difference in the percent of customer invoices generated and distributed electronically (80% vs. 70%). They also have one percent fewer invoices that are related to disputes and can cut process costs over $5 per order as compared to a typical company. That means that for organizations that generate thousands of invoices a month, improving billing can translate into millions of dollars of impact for the bottom line. Going paperless will allow you to avoid all of these headaches and expenses while also reducing the carbon footprint caused by trucks, airplanes, and other mail delivery equipment.

The Inefficiencies of Printing

When you buy a printer, the original purchase price is only a fraction of the cost you will have to pay in the long run. You are also signing up for the costs that come with running, managing, and maintaining the printer over the course of its lifetime. This includes things like purchasing the ink and paper to print the invoices; the printer might need to be repaired; in addition to many other expenses. Keep in mind, all of these costs are just for one printer. You may need to buy several printers depending on the number of customers you have.

As discussed in the podcast “Leveraging E-invoicing to Improve Cash Flow While Building Business Resilience,” the inefficiencies of traditional invoicing methods introduce scalability challenges. Based on the fluctuations in the customer base that go on over the lifespan of a company, we see that continuing to print out invoices is inefficient. After all, as your business grows and you acquire more customers, print requirements may scale more rapidly than your existing resources and staff can cope with. Also, there may be a downtick in the number of customers later on that will render redundant the equipment and staff you have invested in to scale up. Paper invoicing is both slow and uneconomical to scale, up or down.

Due to its physical nature, managing paper-based accounts takes longer, is more hassle, and more expensive. And that hassle and expense extends to customers, who cannot operate effectively when mired in paper.

When you make it easier for your accounts receivable department to track the delivery of the invoice and even obtain a read receipt, follow-up actions can be focused on customers who have yet to respond. The delay and additional cost in providing evidence of delivery for paper invoices contributes to inefficiency.

All of these inefficiencies highlight the fact that while invoicing software may be the first step in providing automated payment processes, a holistic approach to electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP) is the smart approach. Not only can you save yourself all of the costs and hassles mentioned earlier, but you also make it easier on your customers. When their accounts payable departments can get invoices more quickly, without manual data entry, and in a format that is easily integrated with their existing systems, this simplified payment processing, and they can operate more effectively. Streamlined electronic delivery to your customers can massively reduce late payments caused by inefficient and convoluted processes. They win and you win.

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Digitisation and Automation

One of the silver linings of the COVID pandemic is the increased adoption of digital technologies. Many of the changes we are seeing are here for the long haul. Businesses were looking at technology as a new and effective means of engaging with customers, introducing automation and faster processes. We also saw an increased demand from customers to get the services they need in a convenient and expedient manner. This meant that companies needed to implement workflow automation and workplace flexibility to find new and creative digital solutions.

Such a level of digitisation and automation did not overlook invoicing. By digitising the invoicing process, you are making it easier to create and send out invoices and helping customers avoid downstream obstacles of routing and invoice processing.

Many companies have taken the first step in paperless invoicing, providing invoices in PDF format, which is by no means the end of the journey to full-blown EDI-XML invoicing formats. The next step, for many businesses, is to automate invoice production and delivery, removing human error and improving invoicing accuracy. However, the nuances of invoice production and delivery present a common stumbling block for businesses on this journey. Automation needs to take into account all of the requirements pertaining to who receives invoices in what format, when and whether there are thresholds or specific criteria that demand deviation from standard delivery. You can read about these nuances and how to automate them here.

In many cases, business may want to combine paper and electronic invoice automation to achieve better visibility with everything on one platform. This hybrid also allows for an easier transition of customers from paper to electronic invoicing as their preference.

Digitisation and automation isn’t limited to the sending of invoices without paper, customers will be able to take electronic invoices and process them automatically (particularly if they are received in bulk as EDI or XML format invoices). Even if your customers’ AP departments are not set up for fully automated processing, electronic invoices can be delivered with a “Pay Now” button to encourage faster payments and minimize the number of clicks from invoice to payment. Customers also get visibility into when payments are due and can group and pay them via a portal.

De-Risking the Move from Paper Invoicing

Since invoices are an integral part of a company’s cash flow, businesses are risk-averse to any changes. However, after the year and a half of a pandemic that all businesses have experienced, businesses know that they need to transform their processes in order to compete and succeed. However, simply investing in invoicing software to enable e-invoicing delivery is not the answer. Whilst professional invoices can be sent in PDF format, from such software, this is only part of the story.

A strategic approach to e-invoicing must consider current workflow processes and how best to integrate with existing ERP systems. Also, automation typically requires significant changes to existing workflows, as well as the willingness of the customers to accept the move to e-invoicing through understanding the benefits associated with this change. In such cases, it will be important to partner with a solution provider that can facilitate onboarding of customers alongside internal process changes.

While all of this may sound scary and complex, everything can be resolved with the right approach. The best way to ensure a high level of customer migration to electronic delivery and confidence in delivery is through a white-gloved managed service. This ensures optimal customer experience alongside confidence in delivery. While it may be tempting to use existing in-house processes, such as sending out invoicing emails from your ERP, there may not be capacity to establish the complexity of sending rules and the logic required, nor the trackability to mitigate risk.

Corcentric Presents a Risk-Free Approach to Paperless Invoicing

Corcentric offers customers a white-glove managed service of transitioning to paperless invoicing while mitigating all of the risks. Our methodology is based on decades of experience in connecting with ERP and other systems to create and deliver invoices. We offer a full spectrum of delivery formats such as email, EDI/XML, and even paper as a fall-back for those who are slow to migrate, or require paper documents as part of the dunning process for legal reasons. Not only will you be able to easily send invoices but can also use various templates to simplify the invoice creation process. In addition, templates help to ensure that invoices are delivered to specific clients in the layout they need for easier (or even automated) processing.

In the event that we do need to create paper invoices, our printing is outsourced, which removes overheads and provides scalability as well as economies of scale. Local print hubs, in the country being delivered to, remove the need for international postage costs and time delays. You will be able to quickly see a ROI with our e-invoicing because the service becomes an operational expenditure, offset against ongoing savings, rather than requiring capital expenditure to set up electronic delivery and automation in-house.

The electronic invoicing offered by Corcentric makes life simpler for everybody involved. And when you leverage Corcentric EIPP for online payments directly from a link in the invoice, you can easily pay by credit card, debit card, or bank account information. Save time with invoice templates and improve cash flow with electronic invoices.

Arrange a call with a Corcentric EIPP expert to find out how easy it is to go paper-free without the risk.

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