A Guide to Electronic Invoices
The timely delivery of documents is very important to businesses. If you use the postal service, you will find it to be slow, expensive, and very unreliable at time. And when it is finally delivered, there is a need to open, distribute and file the invoices which takes time and money too. And you will be surprised that even highly digitalized business are still relying on postal services to deliver invoices.
Electronic invoicing should be considered by all businesses instead of relying on postal services which is slow and expensive. The reason for the use of postal services is that businesses think that their customer are not ready to receive electronic invoices. There is lack of basis in that explanation since the internet is where most people are today. Paper invoices are supposed to be a thing of the past. You will be surprised how many customers will agree to receive an electronic invoice. And, you will save on expenses when you do so. Don’t be moved by a very few die hard customers who refuse to accept this. Convert the proactive ones first, then the traditionalists later.
If you are thinking about the format of your electronic invoice, this will depend on whether you are moving to a true ecommerce type scenario or simply looking to bill your customers more cost effectively. If you use output management software, you can take any document output from your business system and seamlessly deliver to your customer virtually any format. The best format for electronic invoicing is PDF which is an image representation of your invoice.
The technology side of electronic invoicing is not complex and can be implemented quickly, whatever your system is. The first thing to do is to talk to your customers in order to find out who is willing to accept an electronic invoice and collect their email addresses. You can add their emails to your business system If it has the facility to hold email addresses. Or you can hold it in a separate look-up table or database.
Start by sending PDF invoices. This will give your business huge cost savings with only a little startup cost. The only problem with this is whether the customer will view the invoice of not. By sending it to a document delivery portal then this can help solve your problem. In the email of the customer he will find a link that he need to click in order to view his invoice. What the customer needs to do is to click the link, sign in securely, and then view the invoice with other invoices or an archive. Analytics will show the sender whether or not the customer has clicked the link to view the invoice or has downloaded a copy. Overdue invoices can now be chased by a credit controlled since they have not been viewed. Links can be resent to the customer.