A decade ago, not many would have though that they could buy any consumer product they could want online.
However, fast forward to 2021, and sales on e-Commerce platforms are fast catching up with those of brick-and-mortar retail stores, with about 14% of total retail sales coming from e-Commerce channels.
At this rate, e-Commerce could very well surpass physical retail stores to become the primary channel through which customers purchase their products.
However, the rise of e-Commerce has greatly increased customer demand for wholesale distributors to deliver more products more quickly, which comes with its own challenges.
Chief amongst these is that wholesale distribution businesses like yours need to be extremely diligent with keeping up with its invoicing and billing processes.
Relying on paper invoices to do so is not enough, as they carry the risk of manual errors, loss of productivity, and an overall inefficient process of billing and invoicing your customers.
To wean your business off paper invoices, you need an excellent accounts receivable (AR) automation tool that could help you automate and streamline the entire AR process.
Problems With Using Paper Invoices
Are you still not ready to let go of your paper invoices? You may indeed think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But let us show you why paper invoices just don’t work well anymore.
Too Time-Consuming For Staff
Manually updating paper invoices can be excruciating as every detail must be cross-checked to ensure no error. Therefore, your staff is probably exhausted with all the manual work required to check every detail and invoice update.
Prone To Errors
Errors in invoicing could cause a lot of trouble for the financial health of your business.
When your wholesale distribution business was smaller in scale, you might have had the luxury of time to process each invoice manually. But with the advent of e-Commerce, invoicing has to be done as quickly as possible.
As your staff tries to increase the pace of your AR processes, it leads to more inaccuracies in your invoices, and consequently delayed payments, negative customer experiences, and impact to the reputation of your business.
Difficulty In Tracking Invoices
With paper invoices, even the simplest of tracking tasks – such as searching for a particular invoice number, or finding all invoices related to a customer – can become time-consuming. as there is no proper organised system in place for managing your invoices.
Payment Is Inconvenient For Your Customers
With paper invoices, you have to go out of your way to get in touch with your customers to request payment of invoices. In addition, you can only offer limited options when it comes to payment methods.
Day Sales Outstanding (DSO) Is Longer
All of these challenges that paper invoicing presents above ends up adding to the time it takes to close the sale.
This creates bottlenecks in your business’s revenue stream, which can lead to a lack of funds for your accounts payable (AP) and payroll processes.
How You Can Optimise Your AR Processes
Getting rid of paper invoices alone is not enough. Instead, you need to implement a solution that can provide you the functionality and flexibility needed to optimise your AR processes.
Here are some ways you can take advantage of an AR automation solution.
Digitise Your Invoice And Payments
The major challenge AR automation helps with is digitising your invoices and payments. An AR automation portal like InvoiceNow allow you to create and email digital invoices with ease.
With a few clicks, you can easily verify the invoices that have been sent through InvoiceNow, and check that they reached their intended recipients.
There is no need for manual data entry for invoices, as these solutions will automatically capture relevant data from your integrated ERP software, and upload them to your online customer portal.
Once your invoices are uploaded, you can adjust your settings so that your customers are immediately notified through email or text messages. They’ll also be access their invoices at any time, as its available 24/7 on the portal.
This helps you reduce the time it takes to deliver invoices to your customers, and ensure that no invoices are ever missed or misplaced.
Make It Easy To Pay Invoices
AR automation allows your customers to make payments online just as they receive their invoice via online channels, such as online banking, payment services like PayPal, and credit or debit cards.
You can customize your invoices to include a ‘Pay Now’ link, that leads your customers to the digital payment service.
This is a much more convenient and easier way for your customers to pay their invoices, and ensures that payment exactly matches the details given in the invoice.
Use Automation For Data Entry
Automating AR opens up doors to several new and better ways to do your daily invoicing activities.
With an ERP software like SAP Business One, you can quickly enter customer information and relate it to the financial management module for automatic invoice generation.
As a result, invoicing becomes hassle-free and error-free. All relevant details will be filled in automatically, enabling you to process invoices faster.
In case you have no choice but to handle paper invoices from customers and suppliers, you can integrate a solution with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities.
Such a solution can digitally scan all information on paper invoices, and capture and store the relevant information digitally in your ERP software. Imagine all the time you can save with AR automation.
Integrate Your Business Systems
Automation provides a way to make the best use of an integrated CRM, sales, inventory, and financial management solution. If you have a unified system, then automation helps you get the most out of it by allowing for seamless data transfers and accurate data updates.
Integrating an AR automation solution with your ERP software means you can easily reconcile payments across both systems, and ensure data is synchornised in real time.
AR automation can also help you optimise your financial management by generating detailed and well-elaborated reports on everything related to your invoices.
You can log into your AR automation portal and get all information like payments received, top outstanding accounts, trending DSO, and more.
You can also use the portal to perform several search and filter operations and get information quickly to make the right strategic decisions on which customers to follow up.
This gives you a clearer picture of your working capital status and get deep insights on the real-time status of your finances as well.
Optimise Your Invoicing And Billing With AR Automation
AR automation is key to optimising your entire invoice management process. It helps prevent data errors, protects you from fraud, and saves you a lot of time and resources that otherwise go into the grunt work involved with paper invoices.
Without AR automation, your wholesale distribution business stands the risk of dwindling cash flow. Lack of automation could cause a lack of responsiveness in your business and create inefficiencies in your AR process.
Your business therefore needs to adopt the best AR automation solution to meet the growing demands presented by the rise of e-Commerce.
Such a solution should be able to work well in all digital data formats, provide better options for payments, and enhance the overall customer experience.
If you’d like to know more about how you can automate your AR processes and streamline your invoice generation, do register for our joint webinar with Canon and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
It’ll show you how you can optimise your invoicing and billing processes by integrating an ERP software like SAP Business One, with e-invoicing solutions such as Canon’s IRIS intelligent capturing solution and IMDA’s InvoiceNow nationwide e-invoicing network.
Click the image below to register for the webinar “How To Automate Your Order Fulfillment Process For Improved Profitability”, and secure your seat today!