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What AP Automation Means for Your Suppliers.

You might think that putting an accounts payable (AP) automation solution in place would be a barrier for your suppliers. In the past, companies may have avoided implementing automated processes out of fears that their suppliers wouldn’t be on board with the change. But in fact, AP automation can actually provide the foundation for stronger buyer-supplier relationships.

Your suppliers have a lot to gain from your decision to automate your accounts payable. For instance, better predictability and transparency over incoming payments can help them plan ahead for spending. Fewer checks and human errors costs them (and you) less money. They likely wish that all of their buyers would make the decision to improve their payment processes.

What you do as a buyer has a significant (and often overlooked) effect on your business relationships. Offering payment transparency and speed as a buyer translates as business integrity to other companies, and they could be more willing to offer discounts in return for your consistent, on-time (or early) payments. Or perhaps they’ll be more willing expedite their services in your hour of need, because you’ve been so good to them in the past.

Your AP is more than just a necessary back-office process – the way it’s handled can have significant impact on yours and your suppliers’ businesses. What exactly do suppliers love about their buyers’ automated AP?

Predictable processes

Help your suppliers understand what to expect when they send you an invoice. By regulating your AP process, your suppliers will be able to better predict when to expect their payments, improving cash forecasting and decreasing inquiries. Bonus – you’ll get fewer calls from confused suppliers wondering where their money is.

Quicker payment cycles

By eliminating manual, time-consuming processes, you can greatly decrease the time it takes to approve and facilitate payment, which means your suppliers get paid faster. And when you add electronic payment methods, you decrease the turnaround time for suppliers even more. Some suppliers will even offer discounts for faster payment, giving you the opportunity to save on your supply costs.

Improved transparency

Did you know that AP automation can actually provide real-time data to your suppliers about where their payment is in the cycle? If you choose to do so, your suppliers will be able to track their own invoices and payments, giving them the most accurate data and ability to cash forecast.

Reduced number of check payments

Waiting for a check in the mail is outdated. Most people are not only accustomed to receiving electronic payments, they prefer it. Why should it be any different for businesses? Allow your suppliers to skip trips to the bank and get their money faster by offering different electronic payment methods like ACH or virtual card. Plus, having fewer checks benefits both parties, reducing associated costs and time.

Fewer errors

Automation also reduces the risk of data error for both buyers and suppliers. This can lead to less time needed for troubleshooting and less frustration for employees.

Supplier support

Some AP automation solutions, like ones from CommercePayments®, offer a dedicated supplier hotline. This gives suppliers an unprecedented amount of support and a direct contact when they have questions about their payments.

Shifting toward the future

Because AP automation solutions are becoming more prevalent with every passing year, it’s important that suppliers get on board sooner rather than later. When you choose a solution with a high level of supplier support and an emphasis on ease-of-use, it makes their transition simple and may make it easier in the future to accept when other clients ask the same.

At this point, AP automation solutions have been around for over a decade. And with 74%* of businesses planning to implement this technology within the next 3 years, suppliers will soon be expected to participate in these solutions in order to stay relevant. Luckily, this is an easy decision for many suppliers, seeing as their relationships can be strengthened through their buyers’ decision to improve AP.

Automation allows buyers and suppliers to collaborate and create a seamless invoice approval and payment process. AP automation provides a factor of predictability by formalizing what was once a messy process. With clear expectations on how and when they will get paid, suppliers may be more apt to offer discounts, will have increased trust in your company, and will benefit from fewer costs and errors.

Solutions from CommercePayments® give suppliers the top-tier experience through dedicated supplier support and a myriad of payment acceptance options. They can give your suppliers a great first impression to AP automation solutions, allowing them to get comfortable with the process and know what to expect when they inevitably go through it with other buyers. Plus, with a CommercePayments® solution, they can join an “auto-acceptors” group, which allows them to bolster their acceptance with no further action necessary on their part.

Automation can have unique effects for every business and transitioning from manual to automated accounts payable can play a vital role in turning your AP department into a profit center. Learn more about CommercePayments® and find the right automation solution for you.

CommercePayments® solutions are provided by Commerce Bank.
*(; Mastercard "B2B Payments Automation Innovations Playbook" Jan. 2019)

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