How to Nail the E-Invoicing Supplier Onboarding Process

October 21, 2020
Tradeshift Editorial Team

The supplier onboarding processes is the most critical step in an e-invoicing project. The supplier onboarding is the process of gathering the information and documentation they need to evaluate, approve, and add new suppliers to their systems, as well as buy goods and services from, and make payments to, those same vendors. Nail it and you’re on the path to a fully digital future where accounts payable plays a strategic role in the business. Fail and you’re stuck processing paper and PDFs forever.

Unfortunately, the stats show that most accounts payable teams are failing to get their sellers using their e-invoicing solution. According to Ardent Partners, less than a quarter of sellers are using e-invoicing. That’s not good enough, especially in the post-COVID world. You need to be onboarding your sellers and working digitally with your sellers.

Let’s look at why so few sellers are using e-invoicing and why choosing the right e-invoicing solution is key to nailing your supplier onboarding goals.

Why aren’t suppliers adopting e-invoicing?

Here’s a hypothetical for you. Imagine I asked you to go to the gym at 7am every morning. Would you do it? Probably not. Even though you know it would undoubtedly be good for you, who am I to ask you to make that change to your morning routine.

Humans just aren’t wired to willingly accept change asked when it’s asked of them. Alan Deutschman in his book ‘Change or Die’ proves this. He finds that while we all can change our behaviour, few of us do. In fact, only one of nine people will make lifestyle changes even after they are told they could prolong their life, restore their health, and even reverse diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

It’s for similar reasons that sellers aren’t adopting e-invoicing. Although they know e-invoicing will likely benefit them, it comes at a cost. They need to learn a new programme , build a new process, and integrate another system. All that takes time, money, expertise and effort. And many sellers just aren’t willing to pay the price of change.

Pick an e-invoicing solution suppliers want to use

So if you want to make a success of your e-invoicing project our advice is simple: choose a solution that creates value for your sellers. A solution they actually want to use even if it means making a few changes. It really is that easy.

You do that by selecting a solution that:

Makes e-invoicing free to suppliers

Few sellers will willingly pay to use your e-invoicing solution. In fact, it’s madness that some e-invoicing vendors still charge sellers to use their platform. But anyway, that’s up to them. All we’ll say is don’t expect much take up if it costs your sellers to use your platform—pick one that is free for them to use.

Minimizes the process change for sellers

When you’re dealing with SME sellers you need to remember these don’t have the resources available to a business like yours. Change for them is costly and they might not be in a position to dive right into e-invoicing. So why not create a bridge for them instead? Give them the option to send PDFs by picking a solution that converts these automatically into e-invoices and onboard them to full e-invoicing further down the line. That way you still smash your onboarding rates and get most of the benefits of e-invoicing with minimal impact on your sellers processes.

Creates universal value for sellers

You must ensure your chosen solution offers a clear and compelling value proposition. Suppliers need to have confidence it will actually provide value to them to make the cost of change worthwhile. So pick a solution that makes it easy for them to get started and offers them insights into their invoices and payments they couldn’t get elsewhere. And choose a solution that allows them to take advantage of early payments without any caveats or complications.

Curates the onboarding process for sellers

It’s convenient to talk about sellers as if they’re all the same. But that’s not true. Each seller you have is different. They have their own motivations, challenges, and circumstances. So you need to treat them that way. Don’t send blanket emails asking those sellers holding out to use your e-invoicing solution, approach them individually. Phone them or send them an email with information and advice on how and why to start e-invoicing that’s uniquely tailored to them and their circumstances.

Provides value to internal supply chain stakeholders

Accounts payable doesn’t need to carry the onboarding burden alone. Your vendor can 100% help and impart their resources and expertise to help you reach your goal. And so can procurement, they carry a lot of weight with your sellers. So get them to reach out and open those doors with sellers playing hard ball. And they’re more likely to do that if they’ll get value using the solution as well.

Beyond 25 percent supplier e-invoicing adoption

Many accounts payable are doomed to fail from the moment they pick their e-invoicing solution. It’s not that there is anything technically wrong with the solution. It may do everything a buyer could ever want it to. But none of that matters unless it creates value for their sellers as well.

Remember: the most valuable business network for buyers is also the most valuable for sellers.

Learn more about selecting the right e-invoicing and implementing an e-invoicing solution in our definitive AP guide to digital transformation. Get your free eBook now. 

About the Author

Tradeshift connects buyers, suppliers, and all their processes in one global network. We help you transform the way you work with suppliers today – and adapt to whatever the future brings.

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