E-invoicing in Ireland and the Evolution of the Postal Service


As Ireland celebrates another St. Patrick’s Day today, their postal service (An Post) takes a day off from posting what is typically 2.5 million items* each day. We thought this would make a fitting moment to look back at how the Irish postal service has evolved, and continues to evolve.

We also consider how businesses cope with disruptions in postal flow from seasonal events, such as St. Patrick’s Day, particularly the impact on business-critical document deliveries.

The Irish Postal Service

From its humble beginnings in 1660, the Irish postal service (then under the control of the General Post Office) evolved beyond the simple delivery of letters and parcels. The mid-19th century brought about the advent of the telegram, enabling messages to be communicated (via Morse Code) across cables throughout the country and even across the Irish and Atlantic sea to America. The telegram could be considered a forerunner of our modern-day emails; with it’s ability to communicate swiftly across vast distances.

The Irish postal service expanded greatly during Victorian times, becoming the principal administrative arm of the Government. It maintained a precious link with growing numbers of emigrants, helped people save and send money as well as bringing the telegraph, and later the telephone, to isolated, rural communities.

The Irish postal service has continued to advance to support the expectations of modern, digital, life. Since 2015, Eircodes have been in use for every individual address – identifying the address and showing the location exactly**.

Back in 2014, An Post announced the plan*** to supply 80,000 homes and businesses with their DeliveryBox service, to help online shoppers avoid missing their deliveries. In many other, digitally advanced, societies there is still no equivalent solution.

Whilst the DeliveryBox service has made an impact, there are still approximately 50,000 letters and parcels undelivered by An Post each week****.

How Irish businesses cope with postal disruptions

Celebrations such as St. Patrick’s Day are embraced by many as a time to focus on matters other than work, but businesses still need to distribute important documents on these days, particularly billing documents, quickly and securely.

One of the most popular approaches to ensure fast and secure document delivery is electronic document distribution. Sending documents electronically places no dependency on postal delivery, avoiding loss or delivery disruptions.

Beyond simply enabling document delivery 24/7/365, electronic document distribution, and in particular electronic invoicing, means that businesses can benefit from notification of successful delivery or specific actions such as confirmed intent to pay an invoice.

Electronic document delivery changes the whole dynamic of the distribution service. With the more advanced services, recipients are driven to a document portal where they can find their latest documents and access older documents too. E-Billing solutions, such as Corcentric, enable customers to pay bills online, via this portal, improving cashflow for the business and vastly improving customer experience.

“Using Corcentric has allowed us to reach many of our customers electronically which speeds up on the ability to provide information on time when it is needed,” – Fergal Coultry, Order to Cash Director at MSD EMEA based in Dublin

E-invoicing in Ireland

As e-invoicing grows globally 20% year-on-year, Ireland is embracing this more progressively than much of Europe*****. The benefits of improved cashflow and accounts receivable process automation create a competitive advantage for businesses who embrace e-invoicing or e-billing.

Ireland businesses have had to fight hard against the economic downturn over the last decade. Those who have been able to improve efficiency and reduce traditional cost of paper-based document distribution and storage have fared better than most.

E-invoicing or e-billing isn’t just about saving the cost of stamps and paper, although at €1 per stamp, it’s easy to see how going electronic can benefit businesses sending tens of thousands of documents per annum.

The paradigm of e-invoicing is reputed to save €6.60 per invoice generated****** (from an AR perspective), as well as creating competitive advantage. It’s not hard to understand why Irish businesses are embracing this to compete both nationally and internationally.

So, as the Guinness flows and celebration of St. Patrick gets into full swing today, a growing number of businesses can relax, knowing their invoices and other business-critical documents will reach their destination quickly and efficiently thanks to e-billing and electronic document distribution solutions like Corcentric. All the more reason to celebrate.