This is a guest post by Mohit Sharma. Mohit is a Digital marketing expert with experience in marketing, communications and eCommerce Development. His interests include eCommerce software, Hotel Management Software, and content marketing. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, friends and playing chess.
Any kind of business that exists today requires billing and invoicing solutions for its daily transactions. No matter what size the business is, and whether it is online or offline, the volume and variety of transactions make it impossible and impractical to handle invoices using older techniques such as Excel spreadsheets. If you run an eCommerce business or are an online seller, the need for an efficient eCommerce software that handles billing and invoicing is magnified. The numbers speak for themselves:
Global eCommerce sales hit $2.3 trillion in 2017.1.66 billion people bought goods online in 2017. You can imagine the humongous number of invoices that would have been generated in order to finalize the orders and complete the myriad transactions. The sales value of eCommerce transactions shows no sign of decreasing. In this increasingly competitive business environment, when you’re competing with giants such as Amazon and Walmart, you need every bit of help you can get. You need to deliver the best to your customers in order to retain them and survive the cutthroat eCommerce market. So, there is no way that a billing solution that’s not automated would work out for eCommerce sellers. Quick, professional, accurate bills and invoices are going to help your case greatly. Additionally, they will not only make your task easier, they will indirectly add value for your customers.
You need an effective invoicing and billing solution, and your best bet is a billing software. Here’s why:
Late payments are the bane of the online seller. If you run a small online business, it becomes all the more important to receive timely payments because it affects your entire cash flow. An inaccurate invoice will lead to undue delays in your payments.
A billing software will ensure that all the requisite details are present in each invoice generated for your customers. Ideally, an invoice should contain details about the customer, their purchase, date of payment/when the payment is due, preferred mode/s of payment and contact details of the parties involved.
An invoicing software will do you one better if its an integrated one. It automates the entire payment process and enables easy online payment, the details of which are stored in your records automatically. Your customers/clients also get automated payment reminders depending on the due date.
Recurring billing is a common aspect of many online businesses. Certain customers purchase the same quantity of a product over a fixed period of time as their need dictates. In such cases, the invoice generated is the same in each case.
You don’t have to go to the trouble of generating a brand new invoice each time the recurring purchase is made. Your billing software will automatically generate recurring invoices for long-term subscriptions. It will reduce the time for the sale to be effected, thus helping to increase the productivity of your business while adding value to your post-purchase services.
If your billing system can integrate with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, your job is made so much simpler. Most of the popular billing/invoicing solutions available today provide direct integrations with your CRM or provide APIs through which you can build your own custom integrations.
CRM systems, as the name suggests, help companies to manage their relationship with customers. It collects pertinent data and details regarding customers, which comes in handy for loyalty programs, discount schemes, new offers, etc.
When your billing solution integrates with your CRM, the CRM system can automatically reconcile and update the payments made by a particular customer. Thus, invoices can be leveraged to formulate improved loyalty programs for different customers.
Moreover, invoices for different promotional/loyalty campaigns can be automated as per their separate requirements, ensuring a smooth workflow and a smoother billing process for customers availing these offers.
Your billing software most likely supports multiple currencies and the requisite conversions to the currency of the country you’re operating from. As an eCommerce seller, your customers are scattered worldwide.
You might be operating your business from Australia but your customer base might be most densely concentrated in the US. So, your billing software is equipped to generate invoices in USD for your customer while you get the converted amount in AUD in your records.
Similarly, your customers can get their invoices generated in the language of their choice.
Both these options make the invoicing process easier for the customer to comprehend. They can understand the invoice better if they are dealing with their own currency and language.
A top-of-the-line invoicing system will generate detailed financial reports for your eCommerce business. Get client-wise invoice reports, tax reports, outstanding reports, expense reports and even custom reports according to parameters that you can set yourself. Financial reports are key to analyzing the financial standing of your business.
Tax reports help you to plan your taxes and make sure your business is complying with the statutory requirements. Similarly, expense reports are essential to your budgeting and controlling strategies. Managing the financials of your business becomes easier and more effective with the help of reports. Periodic and continuous analysis of important financial indicators is made possible with these reports, which enables your eCommerce business to take its steps accordingly.
As mentioned before, a good billing/invoicing software will generate all your financial reports quickly and accurately. It also keeps all your invoices, expense receipts, estimates, and other related documents in one place, all easily accessible from the dashboard. Calculating the eligibility for tax deductions becomes easier.
Moreover, in case of an audit, all your receipts and expenses are conveniently within easy reach. This will not only make the audit go much faster, it will also make the process smoother and will keep your business in the ‘good books’ of the auditor. Making all the necessary documents openly accessible shows that you have nothing to hide.
A cloud-based billing solution does not only have access to endless storage space but also to incredible security features. Invoices contain relatively confidential information when viewed from the perspective of the customer. This data needs to be secure because if it gets in the wrong hands, it could wreak havoc.
Therefore, security is always a priority that is treated as such by manufacturers of billing and invoicing software. They make sure that their solutions comply with the highest standards such as the PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and make use of security measures such as SSL encryption. Your customers can be sure of their information being safe with your business.
No treatise on the benefits of billing software is complete without mentioning that using billing software to replace paper bills with digital invoices is incredibly environment-friendly. In fact, digital invoices can be up to four times more environment friendly than paper bills!
Being an eCommerce business means being at the forefront when it comes to using emerging environment-friendly technologies. So, using an invoicing software to eventually forgo the use of paper invoices completely will earn your business brownie points from customers for your service to the environment.
Upholding your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has never been easier. You’re not only saving your time and resources, you also get to save the environment (or at the very least, contribute a little towards saving it)!
You can make customized invoices which contain your company name, brand logo, tagline and any other details you might want to add, which point to your unique identity as a brand. It will contribute greatly towards your brand recall, and if you’ve done your job right, will encourage repeat business. It also increases the chances of getting paid faster.
Moreover, when you have relevant information from your CRM integration, you can include personalized messages for specific customers, which will almost definitely help them remember your business! In a way, your company’s identity will be ‘branded’ on their mind. It will make your business identity stand out in the oversaturated eCommerce market scenario.
Any manual invoicing process is prone to errors. Even if your best accountant is handed the responsibility of creating invoices with his magic Excel skills, she still cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.
But an invoicing software can.
As long as your system is picking up the correct transaction values, the software will generate accurate invoices, complete with the taxes and/or discounts applicable on each item. The ultimate aim of the billing process is to ensure that the customer pays the right amount at the right time, without cause for any dispute in between. A billing software guarantees this. Your error-free invoices serve to increase convenience and comfortability for the customer, which helps to strengthen your reputation as a customer-oriented business.
Given the current market scenario, a billing/invoicing software has become a necessity. There are hundreds of different billing software. You have to decide which one is right for your business based on the size, volume of transactions, and specific functionalities required by your company. Most sellers offer a free trial of their software, so you can easily see if it suits your business needs or not, without having to waste funds on the same. Whichever software you decide to go with, it will confer the aforementioned advantages to your business, enabling it to grow further and cement its position in the burgeoning eCommerce landscape.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Bitbond. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.