Why should businesses streamline their payments processes? Because streamlining saves time that’s usually spent correcting errors from having an inefficient payment process. When payment processes are properly managed, other aspects of the business will begin to run smoother, and trust built with the customer is reinforced. A business with a solid payment process appears more successful and professional.
Automating the accounting process eliminates much of the potential for human error from manual processes. The computer (or software) catches many mistakes. So, automated accounting systems drastically cut or reduce delays that result from mistakes that humans won’t catch until later because automation can catch them in real-time.
It also makes it easier for customers to pay you. When the payment methods are clearly stated and easily accessible, more customers will pay on time. One of the reasons small businesses go out of business is too many late/missing payments from their customers. Making it easy to pay helps to decrease this risk while improving your relationships with your customers. (Nobody likes working with a business that makes it hard to do business!)
Another advantage is the ability to always be up to date on accounts receivable. With a streamlined process, you can quickly process payments (money in the bank is always nice), see how much is outstanding, which customers risk being late on their payments, and where follow-up is needed. Of course, when your receivables are organized and streamlined, it’s much easier to keep your accounts payable in order.
A final reason to streamline payment processes is to keep all accounts and records in order. It can ensure that all invoices for one company or from one time frame are kept in the same place, and accurately recorded and filed away. Without a proper organizational system, payments simply can’t be streamlined—whether they’re automatically or manually completed.
There are a few steps that come with streamlining payments. The first is to use a payment processing program or automated solution that coincides with your business. For example, if you own an eCommerce store, look for a provider that specializes in eCommerce payment processing.
Most payment solutions are designed to integrate with your current bookkeeping system (QuickBooks is one of the most common). Look for an option that’s simple and concise. The payment programs with the fewest steps are likely the best to use because they're easy to keep track of and use regularly.
Next, always email a receipt to the customer once the payment has gone through, so they have it in their records. This saves time later when they need to reconcile their accounts—and reduces the number of requests for proof of payment documentation.
Finally, keeping up with new payment technology will help to keep your business up to date and competitive. All these steps will really improve a business’ ability to streamline payments while increasing efficiency.
The ultimate efficiency is to use a system where everything to do with invoicing/payment processing is integrated. When creating an invoice, sending an invoice, receiving payment, and processing the payment are all done in the same system, errors are drastically reduced, there’s less human labor involved, and the risk of missing a payment or sending a duplicate invoice are reduced (or, in many cases, eliminated completely).
One note about the use of OCR (optical character recognition) software as part of a streamlining process: while this allows for scanning and digitizing of invoices, it’s still a system that requires manual initiation. As well, the software’s accuracy decreases as more fields are added to invoices. A better solution is to use software that can fully manage the invoicing from start to finish.
With a simplified and polished system, mistakes are few and far between, meaning the business and its customers will have more timely cash flow. The bottom line is that shifting a bit of time and resources to go toward payment streamlining now will save time and money at the end of every month.
Without streamlining, there’s a risk of having the business’ working capital tied up in a stack of paper at the end of the desk. Sending, receiving, and processing invoices manually leads to bottlenecks in payments.
One B2B payment processing system that’s ideal for small and medium businesses is through a fintech company called Resolve. A key demand by most business customers is net terms—the ability to pay for products/services 30, 60, or 90 days after receiving an invoice.
Doing this creates a few challenges for the seller: how much credit to extend to the customer, which net terms to offer, and how to survive as a business while waiting months for payment.
With Resolve, businesses can conduct discrete credit checks on any US customer and receive recommendations on how much credit and which net terms to offer to each customer. (This varies based on their creditworthiness, payment history, and other information.) Then, Resolve pays the business up to 90% of each approved customer’s invoice within one day of issuing it. Payment is made directly into the business’ bank account.
The customer gets the net terms they want, and the business gets paid quickly, which helps to solve cash flow and working capital problems. In addition, Resolve provides each business with a branded payment platform where each of their customers can log into their account, see all their invoicing and credit information, and easily make payments using their business credit card, bank transfer or ach, or even mail a check. The processing is automatic and very user-friendly for both parties—the perfect solution for accounts receivable.
There are also payment processing platforms available to businesses that help streamline their payment and credit card processing.
To make for a positive experience for both your office and your customers, consider using a payment processing system that fits the needs of your business. One is the Clover payment processing solution, which is made to be used at a storefront and provides a merchant account. It can report inventory and allows the customer to control the receipt options. Clover takes pos as debit card payments, mastercard and visa, online payment services such as Apple Pay, and it can even go as far as scanning and submitting cheque payments.
Another is Streampay, which is a cloud-based payment processing system that works with eCommerce stores. It takes payments via a virtual terminal, a hosted payment portal, or through API. Streampay can accommodate a business of any size, and it securely stores customer data while meeting the PCI regulations. At the same time, it automatically processes any reoccurring payments on a payment schedule. It can even track and analyze sales and cash flow statistics.
Both Clover and Streampay are easily implemented into the pre-existing software that the business uses.
Streamlining isn’t only for direct transactions — it’s for invoices too. Streamlining the invoice processing system improves the efficacy and timing of sending and receiving invoices, and when the business gets paid.
Within the lifecycle of any invoice, the best option requires less time and offers more accuracy. An automated system helps to keep customers happy and money flowing, but also protects the business from costly mistakes. As your business grows, invoice processing needs will change. Having a system that’s efficient and scalable will help transition to selling to more customers with the same ease of processing.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted what many businesses already knew—any solutions that make business processes easier and more efficient, decrease data entry requirements, allow for electronic payments, and improve workflow are essential parts of keeping the doors open and growing your business. Streamlining payments is a big part of this.