Retail managers need to handle hundreds of different vendors that generate large volumes of invoices. Processing these invoices manually is extremely tedious and time-consuming. Your staff has to review each invoice individually and then match it against purchase orders line by line to verify each transaction.
At the same time, handling retail invoices manually carries the risk of losing important invoices or failing to make payments on time. All of these problems can kill the productivity of your retail business and sour your relationship with suppliers.
For this reason, many business owners view invoice automation as the perfect solution against all these problems. Invoice automation grants retail business managers to complete control of the accounts payable process. As a result, these managers can handle unregulated indirect spending more efficiently.
An efficient invoice automation solution can automate as much as 90% of accounts payable invoices. It can help retail businesses ensure an optimal workflow for their company and survive in a fiercely competitive market. In this article, we will discuss why invoice automation needs to be a priority for the retail industry in 2020.
Streamlining Direct Spend
At the peak of shopping seasons, retailers have to manage countless invoices simultaneously from several different vendors. The sheer amount of invoices can be overwhelming and at times, handling them is impossible without having a proper system in place.
For processes as complex as direct spend matching, using a manual or semi-automated system is inefficient, to say the least. Managers have to process invoices with several line items, match them line-by-line, and understand deviations. Doing all these tasks simultaneously requires several resources and eats a considerable amount of time.
Every hour spent on manually calculating direct spending gives managers less time for creative thinking. Since the retail industry requires managers to be agile and innovative, continuing with manual procedures can halt business growth.
Invoice automation can allow retail businesses to implement touchless direct spend processing. These solutions utilize dynamic header and line-level matching from the purchase order to the corresponding invoice, giving your employees have more time for other tasks. At the same time, purchasers have to spend less time approving invoices and are only involved when a deviation comes up.
Improving Relationship with Suppliers
For a retail business, developing a strong relationship with its suppliers is critical for success. Several suppliers support each product you manufacture and sell. However, if you fail to pay these suppliers on time due to an inefficient and slow invoice processing system, it can hurt your reputation across the industry.
In the worst cases, you can face a situation where you are blacklisted due to late payments. Nevertheless, by using invoice automation retail business managers can guarantee fast and accurate invoice approvals. At the same time, the solution can alert you about upcoming due dates and streamline payment delivery.
The Opportunity for Intelligent Invoice Processing
While retail businesses have only started automating complex and tedious procedures, other industries are already making the most of intelligent solutions. To some Artificial Intelligence may seem like something out of a science-fiction movie, leading automation solutions already leverage AI functionality in their products.
Invoice automation can enable retail business owners to incorporate automated intelligence in their accounts payable processes. An intelligent invoice processing solution can combine machine learning techniques and powerful invoice automation to reduce manual processing completely. At the same time, it can replicate what your staff has to do in their normal routine.
Handling Non-Merchandise Invoices
Businesses operating multiple brick-and-mortar establishments have to calculate a vast amount of spend – something that can catch any accounts payable department off-guard. Calculating indirect spending is already difficult, but calculating the operational and maintenance expenses of several locations can be insurmountable to challenge large businesses.
This is why accounts payable departments need to leverage ongoing AP automation trends to handle indirect spending efficiently. Invoice automation provides modern retailers with a digital workflow and advanced invoice capture features.
These solutions allow AP teams to accelerate lead times, minimize erroneous payments, prevent fraud and enable them to process invoices efficiently. With the help of invoice automation, it is easier route invoices to the right approvers without manual intervention. As a result, retail managers no longer have to worry about invoices being lost.
Faster Invoice Processing at Fewer Costs
According to Forbes, around 80% of business leaders believe automation saves three hours of work every day – something that translates to 780 hours a year. One of the greatest hurdles to business growth for retail businesses is delayed invoice processing, which ultimately causes a higher cost per invoice. Invoice automation can significantly reduce the time it takes to process invoices.
The solution leverages cutting-edge technology such as optical character recognition (OCR), intelligent data capture, dynamic workflows, and e-invoicing to accelerate invoice processing. At the same time, digitizing invoices can also reduce costs associated originating from invoice processing delays.
Real-Time Invoice-Processing Visibility
When your retail business is receiving hundreds of invoices simultaneously, it can be difficult to keep track of invoices at any given time. Using manual techniques for invoice reporting is extremely fragmented, prone to errors, inefficient and time-consuming.
However, with the help of automated AP solutions such as invoice automation, retail managers can review highly detailed analytic reports in real-time. This allows them to identify and analyze key elements in their businesses such as invoice statuses, volumes, as well as bottlenecks in invoice processing.
As a result, retail managers can enjoy increased control over invoice processing. Managers no longer need to make decisions regarding payment reminder notices or keep an eye for follow-ups in the system.
Here are some of the documents an advanced invoice automation solution can provide:
- Productivity report
- Overdue payables
- Key process report
- Exception analysis report
- Central reports
- Audit reports
- Cash discount forecast
- Supplier payment analysis
With the help of these reports, retail managers can make informed business decisions. They can help you determine which supplier you buy most from. Doing so can help you negotiate a discount for your business and prioritize suppliers based on the cost-saving they offer. Similarly, you can also consider grouping payments or invoices together to minimize costs. Ultimately, invoice automation can help retail managers eliminate manual, time-consuming, tedious tasks. These solutions are necessary for expediting the growth of your business and staying relevant in a fiercely competitive market.