Daily Archives: September 22, 2013

Your Best Secret Weapon Against Bankruptcy? e-Invoicing and Supply Chain Finance

Right now, you’re probably scratching your head and saying you’re biggest secret weapon is better marketing and advertising to get more people to buy your product and keep the cash coming in. However, the real problem, especially for any company in the supply chain that is not customer facing, is the inbound cash-flow. Every month employees have to be paid, overhead costs have to be paid (or the lights go off and the doors get locked), and (starving) suppliers have to be paid. This can only happen if the company is paid, or has access to cash until it gets paid.

Inbound cash-flow is a serious problem, especially as more and more companies extend DPO terms across the board. It’s so bad in the UK that the government established the Late Payments of Commercial Debts Regulations to protect small businesses struggling with cash flow due to late payment of invoices. Cash-flow problems, and chronically late payments in particular which are topping 120 days (or more) in some verticals (especially in the UK), and not lack of customers, are now causing more bankruptcies than business failures (as there is no lack of customers). As far back as 2008, 4,000 UK businesses, which represented at least 40% of bankruptcies in 2008 in the UK, failed as a direct consequence of late payment! And that percentage is increasing.

So how is e-Invoicing going to help? One of the many advantages of proper e-Invoicing is that a buyer gets an invoice almost as soon as you submit it (as transmission over the internet typically only takes a few seconds at most) and can send a receipt thereof to your system immediately. If it’s a customer you have a contract with, then you have options. If they are cash-rich, and amicable, you can offer them early payment discounts that will save you both (if the alternative for you is borrowing at 20%). If not, and the customer has a good credit rating, you can put the invoices out for factoring on a Supply Chain Financing hub and get them factored at a much better rate than your local bank (that might struggle with a simple international wire) will give you.

Done right, as long as you are selling enough to meet your operational costs, e-Invoicing and Supply Chain Financing could save your hide when your competitor goes out of business. They truly are the best secret weapons you might have against bankruptcy (especially given that over 80% of invoices are still paper in many countries).