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Some things never change…
- Paper has dominated—without a bit of a doubt.
- Businesses work to comply and satisfy their consumers—at least the businesses that want to survive.
A recent study report conducted by Infotrends.com and written by Matt Swain has proven one of my two previous statements to be wrong in terms of change. One thing is changing… and that is the predominating use of paper.
Accounts Receivable: Paper is losing its Power
Over the last 40 years, postal services have administered consistent growth even through recessions. However, through our most recent recession from mid-2007 to mid-2009, first class postal distribution numbers earned a strong downward turn.
In fact, in 2012 InfoTrends received an overwhelming response from 240 businesses in North America indicating their “very important” business initiatives were to “reduce print and mail communications.”
Let’s face it. Mail prices haven’t grown to be more affordable. They only continue to increase, as discussed in this blog post covering the USPS price increases and its effect on Accounts Receivable departments. This reality has forced businesses to implement smarter technologies to avoid climbing mailing costs. Thankfully, mailing services have only gotten more robust and intelligent, and the opportunity to do away with paper invoicing is becoming more realistic for businesses—not just because the technology is there, but because consumer preferences are evolving and creating a trend to paper-free invoicing.
E-Invoicing and Digital Portals Winning the Battle against Paper
So while businesses have deployed smarter systems of invoicing to reduce their use of paper, a vast number of consumers are changing their preferences to request paperless billing and statements.
According to an InfoTrends study, 36 percent of consumers surveyed indicated they plan to access bills and statements through a self-service portal through their provider. This percentage overwhelmed the consumers that indicated that they intend to access that information via physical mail and bank consolidation services.
As a consumer, I can confirm this statistic and confess that paper just drives me crazy. My husband is diligent on picking up the mail—and he loyally places the new mail on the kitchen table or the counter. As the weeks pass, these piles accumulate and before I know it, I have collections of paper that are (more often than not) completely unimportant—since most of my bills and statements arrive via email, and I review them online. This system is easier for me, and I avoid having my important information lost within the piles of paper in my kitchen.
Conclusion: Things DO Change
Swain of InfoTrends concludes in his report, “New technologies and services are driving changes in consumer behavior, and it is influencing their expectations in the office.” Swain suggests that companies embrace these changes in consumer behavior by offering different avenues where consumers may receive their information. As the digital world changes, more and more consumers are catching on and they are beginning to prefer the simplicity of digital channels and E-Invoicing