Technology has become a large part of our lives, yet many companies still use paper invoicing. According to PayStream Advisors’ 2013 Invoice and Workflow Automation (IWA) Benchmark Report, paper invoices continue to decline from 59 percent in 2012 to 52 percent in 2013.
But we wonder, is there an advantage to one method over another?
Pros of E-Invoicing
o The cost of postage, paper and ink quickly adds up when sending paper invoices. According to a report from Haldex Credit Service Corporation, which processes over 25,000 invoices per month, the switch from paper to electronic delivery saved the company $150,000 in postage alone.
o The use of e-invoicing also decreases the space needed to store the paper trail of documents. Storage requirements can now be achieved through e-archiving.
Lower Carbon Footprint
o For environmentally conscious companies, electronic invoicing is the greener option. According to a 2010 study by the Aalto University School of Economics titled “Assessing the Carbon Footprint of Paper vs. Electronic Invoicing,” moving from a paper-based invoicing process to electronic invoicing “decreases the carbon footprint of one invoice lifecycle by 63%.”
Shorter Payment Cycle
o When sending an invoice via email, your customer will receive it immediately, compared to 1 – 3 days by mail. This gets it processing into their system quicker.
o While there is a possibility of your invoice going to spam, you can set a read receipt on your message to know when your customer has opened the invoice. This can be very useful when the customer states that they never received it.
Pros of Mail Invoice
The Computer Illiterate Company
o It may be far and few, but you may not know who is on the other end when sending an invoice. If the person is computer illiterate, it may be a problem. According to a 2013 survey from the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of US adults don’t use the Internet or email. The good news is that most of the non-Internet users are 50+ and less likely to run a business.
Receiving the invoice
o Mailed invoices tend to not get lost as easily as emails, which can often end up in spam or are altogether forgotten if not printed or organized right away. Mailed invoices serve as a printed reminder to the customer.
And now for the most important question…
Which method is proven for quicker payment?
According to an August 2013 Case Study: Direct Mail vs. Email Invoices by Data Services, Inc. with Natur-Energi A/S of a test population group of 2,879 new customers:
- 59 percent of customers billed by email invoice failed to pay their first bill on-time and needed a reminder. Of the 59 percent, 80 percent called customer service following the reminder, with the most popular excuse being that the invoice was delivered to the spam folder of their email.
- 29 percent of customers who received mail invoices failed to pay their first bill on-time and needed a reminder. Of the 29 percent, 50 percent called customer service concerning the payment.
Overall, we believe that you should get to know your customers and be clear with them on how they will be receiving the invoice. E-invoicing is advantageous for nearly all businesses because of the cost savings, but may become problematic for payment; and increasing your cash flow is always important.
Make sure to ask your customers to save your email address as a contact to avoid the invoice going to their spam folder. With that strategy you can receive the benefits of email invoicing while minimizing the potentially negative effects.
Tip: Even if you send your invoices by email, give your customer the option to opt for mail.
What type of invoicing does your company use?