Electronic or paper - which method is best for invoice delivery?

Businesses are continually looking for ways to eliminate paper processes. So, if you're looking to start your own business why not avoid as many of them as possible from the outset by utilising electronic invoice delivery. If on the other hand you are already running your own business and you are using a paper-based invoicing system, perhaps this information will convince you to make the switch.


Paper delivery of invoices is continuing to decline as more and more firms make the switch to electronic methods. The primary causes for this switch are that paper processes drive high operational costs and they are slow, inefficient and manually intensive. There are a range of different estimates as to the cost of paper invoicing, however general consensus indicates that the average per invoice cost-from initial handling, including postage, to reconciliation can be anything up to $20. The elimination of this cost could save your business thousands of dollars a year.

There are a range of systems available that you can purchase to assist with electronic invoicing however being a small business, you may wish to take a simple approach and email your invoices rather than posting them. That said, companies that have made the switch to complete electronic invoicing systems report a range of positive outcomes, including improved relationships with their customers and the elimination of inefficiencies throughout the accounting side of the business (this is a big bonus for SMEs, the vast majority of whom are not experts in the credit and accounting side of the business).

Below are some of the key benefits of electronic invoicing:

  • Elimination of paper handling costs: Just as the company saves from elimination of paper handling costs, the customer saves as well. Electronic invoicing reduces   handling, postage and filing. There is also a green element involved due to the reduction of paper usage.

  • Improved reporting: To track spending, many customers with paper-based invoicing systems ask the supplier for quarterly reports because they don't have the manpower to produce them themselves. An electronic invoicing system will allow you to run these reports in minutes, rather than hours or days.

  • Improved dispute resolution: Fewer disputes arise and those that do can be settled quickly because all required information is available immediately. There's no digging through paper files to find records or attempting to interpret handwritten or carbon copies. Therefore there are fewer disputes, quicker resolutions and a better overall customer relationship.

  • Business growth without the extra staff costs: SMEs are always searching for ways to cut costs and grow their businesses without adding to administrative costs. However as businesses grow, so too does the invoicing function and associated staff costs . . . Not so with electronic invoicing systems - no additional staff are required, even if the company grows exponentially.

The switch to electronic delivery has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in postage costs - it also means the time consuming processes of  stuffing envelopes, running folding machines and other 'snail mail' related processes will become redundant.

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