Why to Email Invoices rather than Mailing Them and 4 Steps How to Implement It

8/13/2012 Carsten Howitz ERP

Are you still sending invoives in the mail? Should you consider email?

Invoicing your customers is an important task. You want to make sure they receive the invoice at the time you provide the customer with the service or good, or shortly after. But are you still sending them via regular mail or are you considering emailing them?

There are pros and cons with both methods and I will go through some of the most important ones in this article.

Using the Postal Service

When you send invoices via regular mail you are mailing one or more pages in an envelope. You have to print, fold, and pack each invoice and finally calculate the postage, add the stamp (or meter the envelope), and take it to the mailbox. This all makes for a cumbersome and costly process. The most obvious cost is the direct cost for the postage, but there is also a cost associated with the paper, toner, envelope and the time to fold, pack, stamp, and mail the invoices. Depending on your volume and how much time employees have to work on mailing the invoices, you may look at a total cost of $0.50 to $1.00 per invoice sent. So if you are sending 10 invoices per week this is not a big deal, but if you are sending 3,000 invoices each week this becomes quite an expense.

Using E-mail

When you send invoices via email, you are essentially done once you have invoiced the customer in your ERP system. There is nothing else to do. No paper, no envelope, no postage, and no additional work to be done. Best of all, there is no cost associated with this method, or is there?

So until now it sounded pretty obvious that e-mailing invoices is the best, less time consuming, and lest costly option, right? Well, maybe!

When you send an invoice via the Postal System it is most likely going to reach the customer in a few days. When you send an invoice via e-mail it may very well go into your customer’s spam filter. More people than you think still don’t have access to email so they would not be able to receive an invoice other than using regular mail. Some customers are old fashioned and will only pay invoices printed and mail to them.

So, should you start emailing invoices to your customers? I think so. The cost and time savings are just too great when emailing invoices that you can’t just overlook this for your business. Just be sure to do it gradually.

The problem is that if your customers are used to getting your invoices through regular mail they most likely will not pay invoices that suddenly come via email. You may experience some cash flow issues if you just start doing it, because some invoices may not be paid on time.

Here are my suggestions how to implement invoice emailing:

  1. Send out an email to your customers that allows them to opt-in or out of getting the invoice in the mail. Add an “Email signup” form with all invoices you send out. Until you hear back from your customer that they want to receive the invoice via email, continue to mail them via regular mail. This way your customer is aware and now expects the invoice in their inbox.
  2. Ask your account managers to talk to your customers about opting in to the emails since they talk to them on a regular basis.
  3. Once some of your customers start getting invoices via email, make sure your A/R department follows up on them more closely to make sure they actually get the invoices and they don’t end up in spam filters. This can help your cash flow since you will now get paid on time.
  4. Some of your customers may still want the invoice via regular mail. Just continue to offer that but remind them on a regular basis that you offer invoices via email also. You may also offer them an incentive or reward to receiving invoices via email.

Your goal is to get as many customers to change to email, but make sure to do it gradually using the above approach.

Eventually you will have almost all customers invoiced via email and you will be enjoying a considerable saving of time and money.

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