How do you book your flight tickets online? Do you go to each of the many airline websites and check for the best possible deals? Or, do you logon to Expedia or Travelocity and get all the information in one place? They even show you prices from other websites so that you have all the information you need in one place! This is a convenient way for anyone to find the best possible deal for booking a flight and it eliminates the need for you to log onto multiple websites to check for flight prices. However, when it comes to cash application, most teams need to log into multiple vendor websites to get the remittance information – so the question arises, why can’t we have something similar for cash application remittances?
Historically in accounts receivables, customers were used to making payments using checks. However, in recent years they have started to move from check payments to electronic payments. There has also been a shift in how the remittance information is sent. Earlier, most of the electronic payments were accompanied by email. However, in recent years with advancement in account payable software, big retailers and distributors prefer to host the remittance information on their websites. The vendors are provided with credentials to login and download the remittance information.
With the absence of any automation, obtaining or pulling information from websites has become a highly manual task. Every day analysts log into retailer websites, search for remittance information, and download the data. The data is then manually fed into the ERP system or manually keyed into a file that goes into the auto-cash system. Overall, advances in accounts payable systems have resulted in new manual work for vendors in their cash application process.
It may seem impossible to automate the remittance data that are hosted on websites, but technology solutions are now available to enable automation. In fact, some solutions would require you to print the remittance, scan it, then upload it into an OCR system, and finally process it.
Over the last decade, web technology has advanced leap and bounds. Today, we have at our disposal web aggregation or web scraping. The Travel and Hotel industry heavily utilizes web aggregation technology. The earlier example of Expedia and Travelocity uses the same web aggregation technology to log into all the travel websites and collect information on the cheapest available deals. This same web aggregation technology can solve the problem posed by major retailers hosting remittance information on their websites.
By using web aggregation technology, you can create virtual agents that will regularly login to your retailers’ websites and look for remittance information. Once the information becomes available, the virtual agents will automatically capture the remittance data and provide it in a digital format.
A set of rules can then automatically be applied to further enhance the quality of data and bundle it with the payment information. The entire process can be automated to such an extent that on a regular basis you will get bundled remittance and payment information and process it without having to log in to any of your retailers’ websites or manually touching it throughout the cash application process. Alerts can also be set up to track any errors such as the login/password expiring so that corrective actions can be taken.
If you have retailers or other customers who provide remittance data on their website, consider using web aggregation technology. Website automation provides you a good opportunity to achieve close to 100% accuracy and automation. Since the data is available on websites in digital format, teams will not come across errors that we typically encounter with scanning technologies. Companies can achieve real automation wherein their cash application team would not have to touch any remittances that are uploaded on retailers’ websites or the payments they come with.
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