Distribution as a business model goes back to the beginning of civilization. But in today’s lightning-fast paced business environment, distribution involves constant change, and increasing competition. Everyone is looking for an edge, and old ways of doing things are simply no longer viable.

A distributor needs to be flexible enough to evolve and adapt to meet customers’ changing needs. It’s important to differentiate your business in order to secure customer loyalty. At the same time, every expenditure you make needs to offer clear, quick ROI potential.

To meet these challenges, distributors have to take advantage of opportunities for new, disruptive ways to leapfrog the competition. And since every distributor has to manage A/R, it’s safe to assume your competition has either automated this function already, or they’re considering it. Here are the top reasons why.

1. Automation unleashes the power of your greatest asset: your people.

With so much of a distributor’s overhead going toward employee salaries and benefits, your team truly is your most valuable asset, and you can be maximizing their contributions to your organization. Dealing with non-standard invoicing terms and processes sucks up their valuable hours. Invoices that don’t match the orders or receipts, payments that need special handling, inaccuracies, exceptions and overrides all slow down the inward flow of cash, as your team spends extra time on these types of invoices and issues.

Automated invoicing delivery, online, self-service EIPP portals, and intelligent cash app solutions speed up the entire process, free up cash, strengthen working capital, and enable your people focus on strategic initiatives.

2. Automation offers superhuman customer service.

Replacing human interaction with technology might seem like a counterintuitive way to make customers happy. But automation is actually the key to providing a customer experience that sets you apart. Automation treats your customers as the individuals they are, giving them the flexibility to check their accounts, receive their invoices and make payments—painlessly and at their own convenience, 24/7. It sends friendly reminders automatically.

No more phone calls about lost invoices that need to be replaced. No more manual matching of invoices to payments. The payment is automatically reconciled and pushed to your ERP. And as a result, you can serve more customers without expanding your staff.

3. Automation cuts the cost of taking credit card payments

In a distribution company, even a fraction of a percentage point in credit card fees can add up to thousands of dollars in lost revenue. An automated AR solution can reduce credit card processing fees, with special options like Level 3 credit card processing.

4. Automation shreds a lot of your costs.

The costs of invoice preparation, printing, envelopes, and postage all keep going up, and with them, anxiety over shrinking margins rises, too. Electronic invoicing and payment solutions give you a cost-efficient way to slash the cost of sending an invoice. A fully automated AR solution presents invoices online, saving time on both ends, and eliminates postage fees.

Flexible and easy to deploy, cloud-based automation quickly takes the tedious tasks off your team’s plate—and off their timesheets, too.

5. Automation opens up a 360° process visibility.

You want to build growth, acquire new customers, and develop new lines of business and launch new products, while keeping cash flowing in. But doing all this successfully requires intelligent decision-making, and the more insights and information you have, the smarter your decisions will be. Automation gives you easy access to all the data you need, any time.

With an automated system like Paybox, you can quickly identify which customers take the most attention when it comes to invoicing and collections. You can track open invoices, see your electronic DSO month by month, view employee workloads/productivity, and monitor customer account balances.

This kind of data gives you total visibility and control, while the system does the hard labor. It allows you to forecast accurately, and frees you and your team up to develop effective strategies for increasing cash flow, reducing costs and analyzing patterns in AR, as well as identifying ways to eliminate waste and increase cash flow enterprise-wide.