As a consumer, Covid accelerated the inevitable shift to online shopping, and now that we have the confidence in how convenient online buying has become, there’s simply no going back.
So, why isn’t this happening at our workplace?
Integrating the shopping experience into the workplace just makes so much sense for everyone outside of finance. Online buying enables you with the ability to get what you need, when you need it, where you need it with minimal fuss – especially in our new hybrid working world.
There are also advantages to having more options so that you can find the best solution at a competitive price- a skill set that we have all honed over the last two years to get the best value, delivered straight to your inbox.
The challenges for finance
The primary reason you cannot buy online is (surprise, surprise) the finance department.
But before you jump to conclusions, please take a moment to understand the challenges from their perspective, because you will probably have some empathy with their current (but out of date) logic.
It all starts with financial visibility. If everyone could buy anything online, delivered anywhere and the only record finance has is a debit on the corporate credit card… that’s a problem.
Apart from the obvious risk of fraud, these purchases burn a huge amount of time for finance.
Not only does finance have no idea of how much has been spent until a statement turns up, but for each purchase they must also find out:
- Who bought it?
- Was it received or returned?
- Where do they find the invoice?
- Can they reclaim the VAT / Tax (as that depends on what was bought)?
- Which department & GL expense codes should it be coded to?
These steps are absolutely necessary; they’ll be reviewed during the annual audit and have to be correct for fiscal statutory returns. Finance is not being difficult- buying online just makes it much more difficult for them.
For small purchases, the cost of diligently accounting for it often exceeds the cost of that purchase and that simply is not acceptable.
There has also been another significant barrier.
The cost of automating online buying to remove these challenges (usually known as ‘Punch Out’) was prohibitively expensive, unless you are a very large company spending very large amounts.
Solving these challenges
These problems that have prevented broad adoption of integrated online buying have now been removed by Compleat.
The first step is to provide finance with total visibility and control before the shopping purchase is made, during the transaction processes and historically after the event, maintaining a full digital audit trial of every step. This removes the financial management barriers to online buying adoption.
Compleat enables every member of staff to buy online from any supplier/vendor website. This simply removes the cost barriers to online buying.
Don’t worry about anyone in the business buying anything they want and running it through an automated system unchecked.
Finance will have the tools to decide which members of staff can buy from which websites and, depending on the supplier website, even what they are able to buy and any agreed pricing.
Finance can delegate orders and invoice approval responsibility out to the budget holders (accessible from any device), for single and multi-step approval processes (up to set limits), keeping the final decision within their oversight when the value warrants.
This removes much of the burden of high volumes of low value invoices from finance.
Integrated online buying is now affordable for every business.
How does it work?
From the buyer’s perspective
They visit the supplier/vendor website, fill their basket and a single click automatically generates a request to purchase within the Compleat application.
From the finance department’s perspective, pre-set rules decide the correct approval process and can also automate the GL coding and on final approval, the purchase order is generated and the supplier/vendor website basket is confirmed for delivery.
The invoice is then digitally captured, automatically checked against the order and, because the information was captured the moment the purchase transaction takes place, it will almost always be a perfect match.
The final step (if required) is the invoice approval to confirm receipt and that the transaction is posted directly into your existing ERP/accounting software.
This process also works when there are multiple invoices against an order, maintaining full commitment and accrual accounts reporting to speed up month end closes and cashflow projections.
From the supplier/vendor perspective
Every supplier would like all of their business to be transacted directly through their website as most have this fully integrated into their distribution and ERP/accounting software.
Almost all shipment errors are created when a customer’s order has to be keyed into their systems. These mistakes, whether wrong product, wrong volume or wrong price all represent considerable additional costs (collections, repeat deliveries, credit notes and re-invoicing), reduced customer satisfaction, generating late payments all of which eat into their margins.
Online business delivers suppliers/vendors with the lowest possible cost of sales, making it a simple ‘pick, ship and bill’ execution.
So it should come as little surprise that supplier/vendor online pricing is almost always lower, saving you money on everything you buy without the additional cost of diligently accounting for it.
Delivering the online buying digital bridge
When you consider the amount of work that is required and the opportunity for potential for errors of any disconnect process, it is easy to understand the huge value of integrated online buying.
Every customer has their own unique purchasing and accounting software applications and associated disciplines. Every supplier/vendor will also have their own unique website, sales order capture, billing applications and processes.
The challenge is making sure there is only a single version truth of every purchase that is reflected in both the customer’s and the supplier’s infrastructure:
- What was purchased?
- At what price?
- How much of this has been delivered, billed and paid for?
Compleat delivers this digital bridge.
All the critical the information is digitally captured once, at the moment of purchase, removing the opportunity for errors, delivering the simplest streamlined process for both the customer and the supplier/vendor.
This is the future of digital purchasing. The only question that remains is when is your finance department going to see the light and help everyone in the process to save so much time to spend on more valuable activities?
Why not share this with them to get the wheels turning- they may even be grateful!
Probably the best place to start your online buying journey- Compleat & Amazon Business
This is about what happens when Compleat & Amazon Business set out to take online buying to the next level.
Amazon Business and Compleat announced the global launch of the ultimate online buying experience in February 2022 – Amazon Business Punch-In- and it’s causing quite a stir.
In simple terms, it encompasses everything above and differs only in that it enables our mutual customers to give access to every one of their staff to buy online directly from Amazon Business’ website and then only pay Compleat a few pence/cents for each order processed.