by Matt Roy
The digital frontier continues to open new doors for businesses. To put it bluntly, those who continue with their manual “tried and true” payable and receivable practices will be left behind. Those who take advantage of the automated tools available today, on the other hand, will be asking themselves why they hadn’t done it sooner.
If you are a small business owner or financial officer using a combination of manual and automated office payment systems, you may wonder why you should fix what isn’t broken. Let’s look at the six reasons why automating your payments is critical to your very business survival in today’s digital world.
Reason #1: Saving money by automating manual tasks
Given the cost of gaining and retaining a quality workforce, the productivity of every single employee is an essential key to your success. The ability to automate any repetitive tasks like generating invoices or sending payments is critical to maximizing your workforce. The days of managing piles of records and invoices is a thing of the past.
Studies show that 80 percent of businesses still use paper checks for invoices. If you do the math for the typical small- and medium-sized business (SMB) that issues 450 invoices per month at an estimated cost of $15 per invoice, it costs $80,000 a year just to manually process invoices. That adds up to a salary with benefits!
A reliable, transparent digital payments platform can eliminate the need for manual accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) processes. The speed of automation tells us that businesses of any size using the most innovative digital tools will improve their operations and grow faster than their competitors. The name of the game is increasing productivity to improve your operations and efficiency.
Reason #2: Maximizing your supply chain
You can cultivate a better supply chain by automating your payables. If you’re still manually processing and sending paper or electronic checks, you may be delaying shipment from your vendors. In the highly competitive supply chain market today, businesses that streamline ordering and get products in faster can keep up with demand.
Businesses compete for the same inventory in the marketplace and having automated AP transactions at your fingertips will provide the most secure electronic payments to your suppliers, setting you apart from your competitors. With supply chain issues continuing to be a factor, there has never been a better time to set your business apart from the competition.
Reason #3: Improving your cash flow
Even without errors, it can take an average of 60-90 days for businesses to get paid on manual invoices. This processing time hinders the cash flow that could enable your small business to hire additional employees, buy new equipment, or make other operational improvements to keep you one step ahead of your competition.
In industries like construction, for example, payment delays can be particularly challenging. If you promote ways for your customers to send electronic payments through both a mobile and web app, your business will receive faster real-time payments.
Offering a variety of payment methods will also increase your customer satisfaction by suiting the individual needs of each customer. Increasing the likelihood of successful and on-time payments, while also improving customer retention, promises an improved cash-flow so you can keep up with expenses and pay your suppliers on time.
Reason #4: Reducing the cost of errors
Reducing the redundancy of repeated tasks in manual processing and moving your data payment to the cloud will both increase efficiency and reduce errors. It is human to make mistakes, but if you can reduce the likelihood of making them, all the more reason to automate.
From keying mistakes to losing data and mishandling or misplacing information, the more orders you process, the more mistakes can happen. With a quality payable and receivable application, you can reduce these mistakes and the high costs associated with them. Finding an easy-to-use digital tool can simplify your office processes and save you money.
Reason #5: Keeping your customers happy
You may have hundreds or thousands of customers who are perfectly happy with the manual process of receiving invoices in the mail and sending you a check or an electronic payment.
In today’s highly digitized and competitive business world, however, it is more important than ever to offer customers easy ways to transact business with you.
After all, we all know that keeping customers happy and satisfied builds loyalty and drives growth. Think of the personal convenience of ordering online or getting food delivered to your doorstep with your smartphone. If your customers find a product or service easier to purchase, more convenient, and less time-consuming, they will naturally shift their business in that direction. As the adage goes, time is money.
We are operating in a fast-paced, customer-driven culture today. To bridge that digital divide and be competitive in the marketplace, improving the customer experience is not just good business sense, it is essential to your success. The only way to compete is to offer your customers a seamless experience without roadblocks, especially when it comes to payment processing.
Reason #6: Making the switch to digital is easy
If your business has considered making the switch to digital payments, there’s never been a more convenient time and easy solution to solve your business accounting needs. Whether you are spending hours sending invoices or processing payments, digital technology like Flume can make managing your business accounts easier and put all the data right at your fingertips.
Flume gives your small- or medium-sized business a powerful tool
Flume’s digital payments platform removes the need for manual payable and receivable processes. From keeping track of your income and expenses to invoicing and expensing claims, Flume’s digital wallet can streamline the work of an accountant or bookkeeper in your office, and significantly reduce errors.
A digital wallet is an application that runs on mobile devices and computers and allows users to make financial transactions through online channels. Individuals and companies can securely store payment information – including credit card, debit card, or bank account information – and passwords in their digital wallets, allowing them to pay without writing a paper check or pulling out a physical credit card.
The challenges of going digital
While AP and AR automation is growing, many companies find going to full automation challenging, especially small- and medium-sized businesses. According to a PYMNTS survey, 60% of chief financial officers (CFOs) said they question the technical expertise of their in-house staff to support moving to digital.
Cost was another concern for 37% of those surveyed, and trust in technology also remains a hurdle, especially as accounting systems move more and more to the cloud. Although many companies are unsure about moving in-house functions to the cloud, the technology offered by Flume provides an affordable, safe, and secure transition.
Flume was designed for small businesses in the trades
With secure and convenient technology like Flume, there is a slight learning curve and almost immediate rewards. Created as a unique digital wallet, Flume is specifically designed to support the 30 million U.S. businesses currently relying primarily on slow, analog payment methods.
Unlike most payment platforms focused on companies that are already automated, Flume has been developed for the overlooked trade businesses, like construction, with less than $15 million in annual revenue. Flume has leveled the playing field for small- and medium-sized businesses to compete against more sophisticated operations.
Making the transition from paper checks to digital payments
Many businesses are not ready to launch into strictly virtual payment technology. Flume allows businesses to email a printable check to their supplier, who can then print the check and bring it to their bank to make the deposit. Whether you are making the payment electronically or by emailing a printable check, all of your payment information is stored in one place.
Suppliers also have the option of direct deposit -- to have checks automatically deposited directly to their bank account. Even if your business would prefer to mail a physical check, Flume allows you to choose that as a payment option, and your supplier will receive the check in 3-5 business days. Whatever way you decide to pay, the records are stored in the Flume application and automatically recorded for easy record-keeping with the information available to you whenever you need to access it.
Putting the power of customized software in your hands
Most SMBs still rely on paper-based processes to power their businesses, which has served them well for decades. But looking ahead to the next 10 years, we’ve heard from many of our customers, particularly in the trades, that their current workflows can’t keep up amid skyrocketing demand.
Most tools on the market today are built for more modern, technology-enabled companies leaving many of these physically-grounded businesses out of focus; that’s why we built Flume. Flume puts the power of customized, accessible software in your hands so you can stay focused on growth and not the paperwork.
Making the move to seamless transactions
To compete in a growing marketplace, businesses must look at ways to create a seamless payment experience for their customers. Gone are the days when businesses were judged solely on the product or service they delivered. Today, the entire customer experience -- the whole transaction process from ordering to paying -- sets small and medium businesses apart.
Flume is a digital payment platform designed to meet growing demand. Instead of waiting up to three months or more for business payments, you can get paid much faster by seamlessly exchanging invoices and documents with your customers. You'll be able to track your activity all in one place and sync with your accounting software - Quicken is one example.
Send, store, and get funds through Flume’s digital mobile and web app, accelerating real time payments
Get your invoices out faster with Flume:
Send digital invoices for easy tracking and reconciliation. Flume is simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Within a few minutes, you can start sending payments.
Get Paid Faster:
Make it easier for your vendors to pay you by offering several different payment methods. You can send and receive physical checks, digital checks, and bank transfers all through one simple dashboard.
A clean and easy digital experience sets a business apart in any field. Improving your supplier payments and customer experience will make a tremendous difference in your business profitability. Making the move to fully automated payment processing today will be the best business decision you make this year, and the rewards will pay off for years to come.
Flume is specifically designed for your small- and medium-sized business needs, simplifying your payment processes, regardless of your current accounting practices. The switch to digital payments has never been easier.
Learn more about how WEX payment solutions can be tailored to your business, so you can accelerate and streamline operations while creating lasting growth and success for your organization.