The digital needs of the transportation and logistics industry

As businesses begin to come out of lockdown worldwide and shift from survival mode to growth mode, it’s time to consider what the future includes and what strategies can be implemented to help support business growth and ensure resilience. In this blog, we identify how the transportation and logistics industry can use digitisation and automation to address the increasing demand for e-commerce and suggest how finance teams can keep up with the rapid changes.

COVID set new standards for commerce

Although many consumers already enjoyed the ease of online shopping, when COVID forced non-essential businesses to close their doors, consumers around the globe suddenly found their favorite brick-and-mortar locations closed with no certainty around their reopening.

Consumers initially responded by clearing the cleaning supplies and toiletry aisles, but items like sportswear, puzzles and games, furniture, home appliances, and DIY tools quickly started flying off the (online) shelf. With families working and learning from home, people began ordering online at an alarming rate.

To meet demand, companies like Amazon set a new standard of 24-48-hour delivery and companies like Tesco and Walmart have integrated two-day shipping options into their model. This pressure to compete required transportation and logistics companies to immediately adapt to meet the expected level of service and commitment to consumers.

Digitisation and automation in accounts payable

To keep up with increasing demand from e-commerce channels and meet customer expectations, organisations must do these 3, key things:

  1. invest in their warehouses and distribution centers,

  2. increase development of advanced supply chain and logistics processes,

  3. and implement new technologies.

But how can finance teams benefit from investments in process improvements to reduce costs and ensure operations keep flowing smoothly?

In a recent PwC Pulse Survey, 75% of CFOs said they plan to allocate more resources to digital transformations in 2021. A move towards AP digitisation and automation drives cost reductions and efficiencies to both your supply chain and back office. Automation speeds up processes, mitigates risk, and supports a flexible remote work environment. Teams can reduce tedious, costly, error-prone manual processes which often led to missing invoices, late payments, and penalties. With real-time insight into exactly where your business stands at all times, AP teams can focus on taking care of supplier relationships and analyzing complete financial data to make business decisions quicker and easier. Through challenging times like COVID-19, we’ve seen how critical it is to have visibility over your global supply chains for resilience and continuity to prevent shortages, ensure safety, maintain profitability, and futureproof your business.

The pandemic has accelerated key AP trends such as artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like machine learning for invoice processing. Businesses who already have automated systems in place can easily hop on these trends to maximise the benefits of automation. These tech trends then will help businesses gain greater visibility, efficiency, and control in order to achieve improved financial oversight.

What does AP Automation mean for my suppliers?

According to a study from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), more than 60% of CFOs lack complete visibility into transactions within their organisations. Without complete visibility, it is extremely difficult to achieve a holistic view of your supply chain, to determine where to cut spending, where to accelerate payments to key suppliers, and how to keep processes moving.

Transportation and Logistics companies deal with a very diverse supplier base and many are being tasked with building sustainability goals into their supply management objectives. Equally, they expect their suppliers to do the same. The emphasis on environmental responsibility is because the transport and logistics sectors play a significant role in sustainability by implementing smarter, sustainable transport solutions such as reducing emissions, reducing waste, and reducing energy consumption. For each to do their part and hold one another accountable, you must offer your suppliers an easy way to submit invoices electronically.

Let’s get started

As things continue to get back to “normal,” going forward finance and procurement departments may be expected to deliver more with fewer resources. e-Invoicing and AP automation is key to shifting the focus to process efficiencies and cost savings.

With a Cloud based e-invoicing solution, a web browser is all that’s needed for access. So, your AP teams can continue processing payments from wherever they are, ensuring there are minimal disruptions to the flow of goods, services, and money. Through web access, finance professionals can review and approve invoices and address supplier inquiries whenever and wherever they’d like. Users can access the AP software on-the-go and our seamless user experience across all devices (including mobile) only requires them to learn once and use everywhere.

Today, Tomorrow, and The Future

In our paper, “Transportation and Logistics Business Roadmap for Today, Tomorrow, and The Future,” we dive deep into the long-term, short-term, and ripple effects of COVID-19. We explore how automation helps executives overcome challenges and plan for what comes next. Download it now.

Director of Sales, Transport & Logistics