As we recently pointed out in a blog post on the problem of late payments, accounts payable departments are the “Cinderellas” of large organisations. They’re cost centres that pay out money rather than processing orders and generating revenue.
Accounts receivable, on the other hand, enjoy greater investment from management. Orders are the lifeblood of any business, and must be processed efficiently to keep the ship sailing in the right direction.
Despite this, timelines remain tight and it’s hard to meet customer expectations on a consistent basis. We’re all consumers now. The Amazon effect means people expect orders to be processed and shipped rapidly, with 100% accuracy. The B2B world is no different.
In response, organisations are investing heavily in automating customer fulfilment. But it’s fair to say the interaction between buyers and sellers remains fragmented. The diversity of the supply chain, with large and small organisations co-existing, inhibits the adoption of e-commerce.
The result is that integration is costly and time-consuming for all concerned. Not all organisations have the resources for full-scale digital transformation that can drive Amazon-grade customer fulfilment. Companies are using a mixture of EDI, email and portals to receive orders and although adoption of OCR is now widespread, errors persist and suppliers have to re-key orders into systems.
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Order processing is inefficient and mistakes continue to be made. Changes to orders often have to be made mid-process, meaning the cost of processing and delivering orders increases, as does the number of returns. Orders might be shipped incorrectly, or not shipped at all.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an ugly by-product of this inefficiency. Dissatisfied customers end up placing less orders, and once confidence is undermined, it’s hard to restore. Failures compound over time through loss of business. This is particularly damaging in industries such as healthcare and petrochemicals, where timescales are tight and it’s business-critical that orders are accurately processed on time. The limited shelf-life of the goods being shipped demands it.
In manufacturing industries, where just-in-time delivery is becoming more prevalent, inventory management is another challenge. Inaccurate order processing means suppliers wind up with excess stock they have to fund, manufacture and warehouse. This affects cashflow.
What should be a simple process is expensive for companies to get right – and even more expensive when it goes wrong.
Cloudtrade can help. Our digital technology centralises the receipt of disparate orders that come into an organisation. Now that more firms are using cloud-based accounting solutions, they’re able to issue application-generated documents that our technology can process with 100% accuracy at both line and header level. We can help businesses of all sizes to reduce order processing noise and improve turnaround times.
By guaranteeing the accuracy of order processing, organisations can reduce the amount of customer service enquiries they receive. And by delighting the customer, brands benefit over the long run from repeat business and word of mouth referrals. Ultimately, this is about more than preventing lost revenue. It’s about improving the customer experience.