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4 Ways AP Automation is Essential for Retail Companies

Satisfied, smiling retail owner opening his store

Retail is an industry where COVID-19 didn’t set entirely new trends—it sped up ones that were already happening.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that, per recent studies, e-commerce is growing from 11% of retail sales in 2019 to 14% in 2020. A rising trend that is only expected to continue and accelerate.

What might surprise you is that while many brick-and-mortar locations closed in 2020, retailers across the country are bouncing back with a nearly 40% increase in-year-over-year store opening announcements.

This matches the current trends for retail firms:

  1. Experience-based retail is key

  2. Emerging technologies are revolutionizing the business side

  3. Rise of mixed-use retail spaces

Trend #2 is where accounts payable (AP) automation comes into the equation. Is your finance department still processing and approving paper invoices? Paying your family of vendors with paper checks?

Stay ahead of the competition and join the countless retail companies racing to enable AP automation! Your finance department will be more efficient and secure than it ever has been before.

Accounts payable automation will not only remove manual arduous tasks—it will lower costs and increase security! Keep reading to find out how.


Happy woman business retail owner running online store from her home desk

1. Empower Flexibility with AP Automation

The ability to adapt is essential to thriving in today’s business world. Cloud-based AP automation means your team and your vendors can work from anywhere. Review and approve invoices, change payments methods, process payments, and analyze past trends—all from our portal.

Retail is one of the most competitive industries in today’s business landscape. And it’s one that relies on its complex vendor network.

Demand shifts all the time and often with an immediacy that companies have to meet to thrive among their competition. Having AP automation software that is as flexible as you are and is designed with your vendors in mind is a must for meeting these needs.

As a retail company, you interact with a variety of vendors all with diverse business portfolios and needs. Specialized AP automation software is essential to handling complicated accounts while accelerating your workflow.

Check out our free retail case study to discover how we partnered with companies like U-Haul, Kirkland’s, and Rockler to automate their AP processes and improve their vendor relations!


laptop with finance reporting on the screen with a shipping box background - concept of online retail store

2. Forecast Client Demand Trends and Business Decisions

The rise in e-commerce comes hand-in-hand with an increased desire to forecast and capitalize on trends in your retail vertical. According to CIO Applications, doing so and doing it well requires data.

The same practices that allow you to predict your client demand for the next season can help your finance department forecast your revenue and costs for the year. Our cloud-based platform is just the tool your finance team needs to that easily and well. It provides better visibility into cash flow and offers you customized workflows and approval processes.

Your team can look at reporting and forecast what will come next while maintaining full control.

Increasing transparency and having access to real-time reporting and analytics also allows your finance team to catch blind spots that occur with outdated paper processes. The transparency offered with AP automation keeps your management team updated about the status of purchase orders and payment approvals—at all times, on any device.


Retail accountant using invoicing software and budget work from home

3. Invoice Automation in Retail is Key to Saving Time

Have you ever seen a desk piled high with invoices? If you work finance in retail, it’s a good bet you have. By the nature of the industry and the requisite vendor network, the sheer amount of invoices approved in retail is staggering.

If you’re still doing that by hand with paper invoices, you’re wasting valuable time and energy.

Our invoice solution, OnPayConnectInvoice, empowers you to take control by:

  • Digitizing and automating your entire workflow

  • Reading and inputting data from your invoices (regardless of file format)

  • Handling the coding and approval routing per your instructions

  • Routing the information directly to your ERP — after approval

It's been shown that with the right invoice automation partner, invoices can be processed at four times the rate they were prior to automation. A feature that will go a long way to lowering the average processing time from the 10 days studies found it to be in 2020. 

Automated invoicing will eliminate bottle necks, lower costs by 80%, and empower your finance team to focus on higher-value tasks. 


Retail owner authorizing payments from home

4. Recoup Losses and Improve Vendor Relations via Payment Automation

Keeping your vendors happy and paid is more important than ever as industries begin to bounce back from 2020. Payment automation eliminates late payments and allows you to transition to a solution that is designed to suit you.

Our payment automation platform, OnPayConnect, will:

  • Integrate with your ERP or accounting system

  • Enable virtual card rebates

  • Eliminate burdensome processes

According to ReBusiness Online, U.S. retail is recovering from 2020s lockdown faster than expected—but that doesn’t mean you don’t have losses to recoup. And the best way to do that? Virtual cards.

Virtual cards open up an additional revenue stream through monthly cashback. The money you spend in AP can be the money you make. For a more detailed breakdown on what virtual cards are, check out this blog post.

Need more convincing? Hear what one of our clients had to say:

“This software allows us to be completely remote and still get payments out in a safe secure manner. The uploads are easy, and the setup with the team was pretty straight forward... The cost is great and we feel we get a great value for the product. The [virtual] credit card refund we get pays for the service and then some, so we actually make money using the product!”

Steven Morrison

Controller | Connor Sport Court International

Happy grocery owner arraging his vegtables getting ready to open business


Now is the time to advance your finance department into the future and use AP automation to increase your team’s flexibility, forecast trends, and stay ahead of the competition by cutting out paper invoicing and paper checks.

Ready to get started? Talk to a member of our expert team today. Otherwise, here are some related resources.