A/R Practices from 2010 to 2020
With 2020 just around the corner, here at Billtrust, we thought it would be fun to examine just how far A/R has come – and how, in many ways, some things haven’t changed for nearly a decade.
So, let’s take a look at the past, the present, and the future of Accounts Receivable.
Give us some Credit
In the far yesteryear of 2010, most credit applications were either on paper or an emailed PDF. Credit decisions were based on credit bureau reports, difficult to aggregate peer data and a customer’s history with the business. Sadly, in 2020 – much of this is same. The status quo for the process is slow and manual. But automation is breathing new life into the space. To see how, learn more about how Billtrust’s smart, flexible Credit Application automates the process of gathering references, and the ways that Billtrust’s Credit Management solution algorithmically analyzes credit requests for faster and more accurate decisioning.
Amazon was hot with consumers in 2010, but B2B interactions struggled to succeed online. Business customers felt more comfortable placing their orders with salespeople. In 2020, it’s the exact opposite. Amazon has trained all of us to crave seamless ordering experiences and B2B buyers don’t want to waste their time on the phone. B2B webstores have exploded in popularity and services like Billtrust Order provide companies with the ability to easily launch a turnkey or totally custom store with custom ordering tools, automatically populated product pages and advanced order tracking.
Bills, Bills, Bills
2010 was the year of the printer – invoices were rarely digital. In 2020, that’s rapidly changing. Nowadays, most businesses send a mix of paper and electronic invoices and are working hard to tip the scales in favor of the later. Digital invoices are cheaper, easier to account for and can lead to faster payment and cash application. Robust and flexible digital invoices are leading the way to adoption: Rob Richardson, Director of Credit at Corken Steel credits Billtrust Invoicing for getting his business to 90% ePresentment. What helped get his customers to eAdopt? It was Billtrust Invoicing’s ability to include proof of delivery on electronic invoices. That POD data was critical to them feeling comfortable with their bill. Now, he says “I don’t worry about invoices the way that I used to.”
In 2010, electronic payments were a mess. Virtual Credit Card (VCC) numbers weren’t around to make transactions more secure and a huge percentage of B2B payments were still done by check. Now it’s 2020, and everyone is using Venmo, Chase QuickPay, PayPal, Apple Pay and others, so things in B2B must be all electronic by now, right? Wrong. Check still makes up 51% of all B2B payments. Security concerns, difficult to control card acceptance fees and remittance difficulties are slowing the evolution of the electronic B2B payment landscape. But Billtrust Payments is working hard to rationalize the space with new inventions like Business Payments Network, our automated VCC acceptance solutions and secure integrations with most A/P portals. And with better invoicing and payments solutions comes more accurate cash application.
In 2010, you’d get payment info from your bank’s lockbox and open up your email to find the remittance data. A lot of phone calls and headache later, you had slow matching that resulted in erroneous collections calls and slow to replenish credit. But advances in Optical Character Recognition and automation suit the Cash Application process beautifully –and 2020 is much brighter for the diligent professionals entrusted to match payments to invoices.
We’re Here to Collect
In 2010, it was spreadsheets. In 2020, it’s… spreadsheets. Collections has been the slowest A/R process to evolve because accounts only go into collection when something has gone wrong. And the list of possible errors is a mile long (incorrect invoicing, partial delivery, a tax issue, damaged merch etc…). These are difficult problems to automate. But Billtrust has created a novel solution in Billtrust Collections, instead of automating the collections activity itself – Billtrust has automated the organization of collections activity. Today, as in 2010, collectors need to manage their time and they often focus on their accounts that are the most delinquent and have the highest debt. This isn’t actually the best way to manage their receivables portfolio as it is entirely reactive and actually requires accounts to go into deep delinquency before they are serviced. Billtrust Collections creates an automated task list to better manage a collector’s day, log their progress on accounts, generate reports for managers and even can create automated contacts when appropriate. It’s a great example of machine and human intelligence working together to achieve more than either could have on their own.
And what’s more 2020 than that?
To learn more about how we are rewriting the workday for 2020 and beyond, reach out to Billtrust.