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Best Practices for Driving E-invoice Adoption

Highradius

Speakers

George Uko

Credit & Collections Manager, Staples Promotional Products

Transcript

George Uko:

Thank you. What we’re going to do today is we’re going to go over driving E-adoption. This is really going through with EIPP. Trying to find the best practices to get our customers on EIPP. So a couple of things we need to think of if we’re going to adopt our customers to go in and do this. In E-invoicing, there are a couple of things that we want to look for. First, one to think about as we go through this, we want to lower our costs, so our print in mail cost. So print whether it is the printer, the paper, the ink, I do work at Staples not trying to promote ink or paper, but we want to go ahead and reduce that. Another thing, we have to think about as we go electronic. We have fewer errors because everything will be electronic. So the paperwork is going to go ahead and go away. And that’s what we want. Number three is something we want to strive for. This is something we want to work with our customers. Think of what we can do to go ahead and communicate with our customers to make it a better experience. This is something we want to drive with our customers and we want to push the experience. Not only does it help us, but it also helps them so we want to go ahead and push that experience.

At the end of the day, if we could go ahead and push this – It’s a win-win situation for both groups. Something else to think about with the customer experience, it may go directly into their portal electronically. Some of our customers when you print, they, in turn, have to get the paper, put it into their system. So by sending it electronically, we bypass that and get it directly to them. So once again, that’s something to go ahead and think about.

George Uko:

Now as we go in, we set up our different strategies, there are some different strategies that we could focus on. One of the main focuses we should look at is what we call our client segmentation. So which clients do we want to go electronically, which clients should get the invoices electronically? So this is one that you could focus on. Look at your different customers. Look at some of the different experiences you’ve had with your customers. Reach out to your customers and find out what they want and make it a win-win situation.

Another thing to think about as we get to know and reach out to our customers, maybe we come out with a customized solution. So with HighRadius, you could send out statements, maybe include the invoices. Maybe some of our customers only want the statements and don’t want the invoices. So this is where we need to reach out to our customers and find out what exactly they want. And if we could work together that will help this process. But once again, find out what works for them and make it work for both.

Now the third one, find some type of incentive, is there something that we can do to incent our customers to go electronic. So if we could offer some type of incentive that may help this whole process. The hard part is just because you want to go electronic, doesn’t necessarily mean your customer wants to go electronic. So we have to figure out something or some type of incentive for our customers. So the incentive program, maybe we offer some type of discount or something to go ahead and get them to buy into this. And it’s something once again, you have to think it’s going to help your business. But at the same token, it should benefit your customer.

George Uko:

Now, something else we have to think about, and this pretty much speaks for itself. It’s not that our customers don’t want to pay, we need to get the invoicing, the statements, anything we can electronically to our customers. Anything we can do to help aid our customers with the information will speed up the process. But the big catch to this is, we need to work with their systems to make this work.

So we have three different approaches that we could use. And if you look on the slide there, one of the first ones is to push and to push just means that we’re going to go ahead and make everybody go electronic. the hard part with this. Some of your bigger customers may not like this approach, this might be something for some of your smaller customers that we go ahead and do. We could also go into and incense, give them some type of incentive to go ahead and switch, that’s a big one. And then for some of our bigger customers, we could go ahead and customize. So with customization, maybe we offer some different types of customization to our customers. So for example, where I currently work, we send custom statements out to some of our customers. And we have to add additional fields, there’s a little more to it, but we don’t do it for all our customers. This is where you may want to segment some of your customers so they get the information that’s required. And the hard part sometimes your customers will request this from you. So you need to be in touch with your customers to know exactly what they want. But the same token, what are your limitations that you can provide.

George Uko:

So let’s talk about the force that we’re going to go ahead and push our customers. So something to think about with the force, we may go in and tell them within 60 days, within 90 days, we’re going to go to electronic invoicing, you will no longer have a choice for paper invoicing. This is very important that you have the communication with your customer, they need to know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. And once again, you need to make sure they’re in touch with what’s going on. Another thing to keep in mind. This is where you have to decide: can the customer decide to go ahead and stay on paper? Or do we keep them electronic only? So if you keep on electronic-only you’re not going to give them the choice. I think the last one pretty much speaks for itself. This is something we’re currently doing at Staples. Anytime we have new customers, we get them set up in the system, they no longer have a choice of paper invoices. When they fill out the credit application, it states, we need an email address to go ahead and send your invoices to. It’s great for new customers. But for our existing customers, trying to go back in and work with them, it’s a little more of a challenge. So once again, we have to figure out what works the best and probably at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to force all your customers to the electronic. But if you could play the 80-20 rule, you’re going to be a huge step ahead. And that’s what you want to aim for.

Now the Incent adoption, this is where we’re going to give them some type of incentive. I have seen where different companies have decided we’re going to go ahead and donate to your company cause so they’ll go ahead and donate on behalf of the particular company that they’re switching to the online adoption, so that’s something to go ahead and think about. The goal behind this is to find something that will incent the customer, what is it that they could do to get their attention to get them to switch. And once again, there may be a cause or something that they donate to, that you could donate on behalf of their company. So once again, you have to kind of work with your customer, figure out what it is that we could go ahead and do to do this. And this in itself, you have to think about once again, the cost is going to, you’re going to incur to go ahead and do this is worth that cost. In the end once again, the paper, the ink, and speeding up the process. That’s what you’re looking to do.

Customer adoption is once again something you’re probably going to use with some of your bigger customers. So this is one where you’re going to have different one-offs, they’re going to have different requests, different things they may be looking for. So the customer adoption, we want to figure out what exactly do they want? What exactly can we accommodate, and if it’s something we could accommodate that feeds into the system that works with them, we want to go ahead and do this. For example, in customer adoption, we have different customers that may have 20 different locations. Well with the 20 different locations will send them one statement with all 20 locations so they can make one payment. Otherwise, they will get 20 different statements. So there are different things that you can do to work with your customers. Another thing, work directly with them. Find out once again what you can do, reach out to them. Find out if they have other vendors that they currently work with, what are they doing? What can we do to meet their needs? And then the other thing, if there are any incentives that we could go ahead and offer, go ahead and do that. I will tell you once again if you use HighRadius, and you could put everything in the system, one of the big things is have everything go to their AP department so they could see everything. So maybe there’s one person in AP that handles all your particular accounts, if that happens to be the case, get everything to them. So it’s all in one neat packet. And that helps with the process.

George Uko:

So as we’ve looked at the Push strategy, this is something you have to really consider and have to think about. It’s a six-month process, depending on how you set it up. But one of the first things we have to think about is how much time is it going to take for us to do this, it doesn’t happen overnight. And as it goes through each month. It’s all based on communication. So if you notice on month 1, we have the design, what is it that we’re trying to do month to we’re going to send the customers emails, we’re going to go ahead and announce, this is what we’re going to do. You’re no longer going to get statements, you’re no longer going to get paper invoices. And we’re going to tell them upfront when this ends. Month 3, we’re going to go in, remind them, once again, you’re not going to get your invoice or statements, it’s going to be electronic. And then finally, when we get to month 4, month 5 and month 6, it’s all going to be electronic. The catch is when you get to month 4, month 5 and month 6, we need to follow up with the customers again, to make sure they’re getting their statements. What’s interesting is when you get to this point, this is where your customers are going to be calling you.

“We didn’t get the invoice. We didn’t get the statement”. You have to remind them you did it with such and such email. And one of the things that you’re going to find is they probably gave you the wrong email address. So we have to go back in, update that and get it fixed so everything flows accordingly.

George Uko:

If we’re going to go ahead and do the Incent strategy, it’s very similar to the timeline, month 1, month 2, kind of the same strategy. We’re going to design, we’re going to email, we’re going to let them know what we’re trying to do. Month 3, we’re going to follow up the email with a targeted call to make sure they understand what we’re trying to do. months four, five and six. Follow up with the email, follow up with the call. Keep in mind these different strategies if their email rejects behind in the system we want to go into to see if their emails reject the statements and invoices. reject and not get sent to them. So behind the scenes, we need to set up a strategy on our side to make sure we know what’s going on with our emails.

Here’s an example of some different incentives or different emails that were sent out for E-adoption. So think of what we’re trying to do. So from a Push strategy, when are we going to do this? What is our cut over our notification, so one of the things we want to do is announce when this is going to happen. incentive. If you look here, when we get to X adoption rates, we will donate X amount of dollars to the Arbor Day Foundation, making it a win-win situation for both sides. End of the day, the arbor foundation, that’s environmental, that is a good foundation. So hopefully that’s something they’re going to want to join in. And if you notice this, we’re trying to get a partnership to get them to buy into it. And that’s once again, something big that we want to look at. customs. Once again, this is where we may use what we call a social nudge. So look, the way this is worded 72% of customers you have already moved to EIPP to save costs in the environment. So get them involved, let them know that they’re one of the 72%. So if we could do that, once again, that will help get them to go ahead and switch. And I’d like the last one, the last one is our custom where it’s a case study. So this is where you have to kind of adapt to our customers. So company X, Y, and Z reduce time to process and invoice, buy it in or by whatever percent by adopting electronic invoicing. So this is a way once again, where we could go ahead and talk directly to them. And I hate to say this, this is kind of like psychology, what works for this particular customer? What can we do to get them to buy into this? So this, once again, would be giving them a logical approach to let them know, hey, by doing this, not only is this going to save us save the environment, but it’s also going to save your process. So we need to look at that. We need to decide what we want to do. And if you look on the slide, they have something similar to a Starbucks gift card. So once again, something very simple that we could do also and you know, end of the day, once again, what’s going to win for our customer, what are they going to look for what can we do to help get them to adopt to our solution, end of the day, that’s something we have to make it something that they’re looking for also.

Another one here, if you notice that on this one, here are some different incentives or different samples of what’s been done. Look to the far left, here’s a letter, you know your time is valuable. Next time you pay your staples invoice with one click, 75% of customers do the same. So once again, something we could go ahead and do. I wish I could say these are our results, but they’re not. But here’s something to think about. Yeah, we’ve mailed about 1,584,000 invoices this year. That’s more than 190 trees per year. So think of what you’re doing there. You’re saying the paper and you’re tying it back to the environment. So if you could do that, hopefully, that’s something to get their attention. And if you look to the right, once again, here’s something that will tell them what to do. Here’s something that you could go ahead and do and if you notice to the far right one click will take you to our payment portal. One-click, you can go ahead and sign up for this big thing. If you do this, once again will eliminate the paper. So that’s something once again we may want to do and get their attention. And I would love to say once again, these were our results, something we’re definitely striving for as we go along. does take time doesn’t happen overnight but something we definitely want to strive for.

George Uko:

Next steps, different things to consider. Think of your different clients. So our different customers, our different vendors, what is the greatest impact we can have by getting them out of printing and out of the mail? So we have to think about which clients will impact the most. Another thing to think about is our different categories, segmentation, what different customers should we focus on. if we have our customers segmented, maybe we focus on different segments versus all our customers. And that might be an easier, easier strategy to go ahead and reach out and focus on. And once again, this is based on your customer base. Another thing to think about what assets would be more effective for these customers, what can we do to help the customers? And I’d like the second one, think about the different strategies, what type of strategies can we use. And once again, if we segment our customers, maybe we have one group that we could focus on. And then at the very bottom, if you know your customers, well, this might be a great time to reach out to your customers and get them to partner with you. So think of is there a custom strategy that might work for them that will help with what we’re trying to do? And if that happens to be the case, this could be a great time to get their buy-in. And that’s one thing at staples we’ve found is that we’ve reached out to some of our customers, got their buy-in, got them to work directly with us and make it a win-win situation.

That’s it for the presentation. This is something once again knowing your customers in some of this may be based on the different industries that you’re currently in, but try to work it so that you could lessen what you’re doing with the printing and so forth. And at Staples, I think we’ve lowered or reduced our printing cost. And it wasn’t just the printing cost. It was the time to print, time to sort, time to mail out. And we found it was roughly about one FTE right off the bat by implementing this. So it is something that can be done. It just takes some time to go ahead and do it.

Staples Representative:

Any questions, anybody?

Audience:

Did you implement EIPP specifically for E-invoicing or also for the payment portal? And then I know you just touched on it but from a business case perspective, was it all around the US mailing that you were doing and the FTE associated with it in the mailing costs? Or were there other factors that went into your business case?

George Uko:

It was mainly around the mailing costs, the posting of paper. And another thing that we found is that we’ve taken a lot of staffing FTEs. What we’re finding is that we were spending a lot of time on clerical work collections. So it’s a matter of redefining the role.
It saved a lot of time and in EIPP we’re trying to drive more people there as self-paying, etc. But could you bring everything, that’s the catch.

Audience:

Hi, you mentioned you’re sending statements as well. You mentioned you’re emailing statements as well to the customers. You mentioned your combined statements, like for a group of customers, are you using the EIPP portal to do that?

George Uko:

We’re using the Collections module. We have the statements going out, and then what we found is some customers want just the statements. Some customers want the statements plus the invoices. So we’ve been able to work directly with our customers and figure out who needs what, and then we’ve broken out the different customers based on that. So the different strategies for the different customers, that’s what we did.

Audience:

So you don’t have like a monthly process. It’s actually almost at the collector level when you send statements and the way the customer would like.

George Uko:

Some of that is due to how they receive the information. Some of them, depending on where the email goes, are only for statements. So we had to kind of break it out between the two.

Audience:

Hello, My name is Maria. I’m from Europe from Anheuser-Busch InBev. I have a question about EDI customers. Do you also use an E-payment solution with them? And how does it work? very practically, for me to understand.

George Uko:

Right now, with our EDI we have not linked it together with the system. We have everything’s still flowing through the old way. But our next step is to go and implement the statements and everything going directly into our customers’ EDI system. So we’re not quite there yet, but that is our next step and what we’re trying to do.

Audience:

Hi! Chris Jason, I’m with Citibank. Just a quick question around the sort of benchmarking. Where are you in terms of, say, the metrics that you’re using to track the efficacy of the program? Are you tracking the number of invoices that are now paid digitally? What are the KPIs you’re looking for and how is Staples trending on those?

George Uko:

We are tracking the aging, obviously, that’s separate. But with implementation, we’re tracking the number of users. Two things we’re tracking the number of invoices being sent electronically. And then we also have the payment portal. So we’re tracking the number of users signing up on the payment portal. So we’re keeping those two separate, but the goal is to get more people on both. And the other thing with getting everybody on invoicing and all that information, trying to push the credit reps to get more email addresses. So one thing that we’re looking for is, in the system, you can pull to see how many email addresses associated with it. So we keep trying to push more and more to get more people signed up.

Audience:

George, customers that sign up for EIPP, or do you allow them to pay via credit card? So, in other words, (do) they have net 30, net 45, net 60-day terms? So you incur the cost of capital, then turn around and allow them to pay via credit card which you know cost 2% to 3% more.

George Uko:

We do, and the other thing that we found by using EIPP, we’re also pushing ACH so on our old system. I hate to say this, I’m on an AS400 system, we don’t have the ACH option. So now that we’re on HighRadius, we have both the ACH and credit card. So one thing we’re trying to push to save on the cost which is a good point is to get them to pay more ACH.

George Uko: Thank you. What we're going to do today is we're going to go over driving E-adoption. This is really going through with EIPP. Trying to find the best practices to get our customers on EIPP. So a couple of things we need to think of if we're going to adopt our customers to go in and do this. In E-invoicing, there are a couple of things that we want to look for. First, one to think about as we go through this, we want to lower our costs, so our print in mail cost. So print whether it is the printer, the paper, the ink, I do work at Staples not trying to promote ink or paper, but we want to go ahead and reduce that. Another thing, we have to think about as we go electronic. We have fewer errors because everything will be electronic. So the paperwork is going to go ahead and go away. And that's what we want. Number three is something we want to strive for. This is something we want to work with our customers. Think of what we can do to go ahead and communicate with our customers to make it…

What you'll learn

E-invoicing not only reduces invoicing costs by 30% but also drastically improves customer experience. Learn from George how Staples drove e-adoption among paper-heavy customers through push, incentivize and custom approaches.

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HighRadius Electronic Invoice Presentment and Payment (EIPP) Software provides tools that automate and speed up invoice communication and facilitate a faster collection of payments, enabling a closer and more convenient relationship with customers. It automates the invoice transmission and payment collection process providing a configurable solution that supports multiple invoice formats and different modes of transmission (fax, email, portal, etc.) depending on the targeted customer, its integration with ERP systems and a rich search capability enables efficient storage and retrieval of past invoices, backup attachments to minimize disputes and short pays. Apart from that it also has some key features that you would not want to miss out: level-III interchange and surcharge; self-service customer portal; invoicing across email, customer portals, post, and fax; advanced deduction management; and lightning e-payments. The result is faster invoicing and payment collection, better customer service, and improved profitability and cash flow.