How to Send Electronic Invoices
- What is electronic invoicing?
- How It Works for Businesses
- How it works for customers
- What payment methods are accepted?
- Benefits of an Electronic Invoice
- How long does it take to get paid via an electronic invoice?
- Integrating Invoices with Accounting
- How do I find an electronic invoices service?
- Inform Your Clients
What is electronic invoicing?
Electronic invoicing, also known as e-invoicing, is the process of sending a customer a bill for goods or services by email or through your website. Electronic invoices usually also include the option for the customer to pay their bill electronically. Less commonly, it can refer to sending a paper invoice that requests payment online through a website or secure payment form.
Electronic invoicing is different than ecommerce shopping sites. With electronic invoicing, a request for payment is initiated by the business for goods or services that have been provided or will be provided under agreed-upon terms. With ecommerce shopping sites, payment is initiated by the customer.
Sending invoices electronically is a quick and convenient way to bill customers for goods and services they’ve purchased from your company. In many cases, the email invoice will include a click-to-pay button to encourage your customers to pay by credit or debit card right when they receive the invoice.
How It Works for Businesses
The process of creating electronic invoices varies by service. Some services allow you to send invoices directly from your compatible accounting software, while others offer an invoice creation tool to help you set up your invoices. Specific features vary by processor or service. Some processors allow the ability to customize the look of the invoice, add logos, offer a discount for early payment or add late fees automatically when invoices are past due, and more.
The information included in an invoice is often customizable, and may include details such as the customer’s name, a purchase order number if applicable, invoice number and date, and payment terms.
You may also have the option to set up the invoice as a one-time bill, or as a recurring bill. Setting up recurring billing is ideal for situations where you need to bill your clients on a regular, set schedule, such as for memberships or monthly “clubs” of products. With recurring billing, the client’s chosen payment method (usually credit card) will be charged automatically at the pre-determined time. Customers can update their card and billing information, view payments, and more. Some services provide a card updater option that helps ensure recurring billing charges aren’t declined due to expired or unusable cards.
Helpful Tool: Free Invoice Template Creators.
How It Works for Customers
When you send an electronic invoice to your customer, they will receive the information and the option to click to pay online. The link to pay online will generally take them to a secure page through your credit card processor’s gateway. The customer can see all of the information that you include in the voice, including the amount due, payment terms, due date, purchase order number, or any other items you specify. Note that even though recurring billing is often grouped with electronic invoicing, most recurring billing services don’t actually send an invoice or prompt for payment. Instead, payment is charged to the client’s card or account automatically.
Can customers change invoice details themselves?
As electronic invoices are often converted to PDFs when sent, customers are not able to change invoice details (such as amount owed) themselves. If there is a discrepancy, the customer will need to contact you to resolve it, and you will need to issue a new invoice with the correct information.
What payment methods are accepted?
Acceptable payment methods vary by invoicing service. Most services offer the ability to pay by credit or debit card. Some services also offer support for electronic checks or PayPal. For card payments, clients can pay with almost any major credit card, including MasterCard, Visa, and Discover. American Express may also be accepted depending on the service you use and whether you’re set up to accept American Express with your credit card processor.
PayPal offers this video about its invoicing services:
Benefits of an Electronic Invoice
Possible benefits of using electronic invoices will vary by business and client, but may include:
- Increased efficiency
- Reduction in late payments
- Cost savings over mailing paper invoices
- More environmentally friendly
How long does it take to get paid via an electronic invoice?
Timing of payment from electronic invoices can be just as varied as with paper invoices. Some services claim that electronic billing results in faster payments. However, this may depend on a number of factors, including whether your clients are on NET terms.
Many services offer the ability to set up email or phone notifications to let you know when your client has paid their outstanding invoice. Once paid, the funds will generally be available in your account on the same schedule as your other payments with your card processor.
Waiting for clients to pay isn't the only way to get money from your invoices. Some companies offer "invoice financing," a service where the company will advance you the money for your outstanding invoices for a fee. While it can be beneficial for businesses that find themselves in a difficult spot waiting to collect on invoices, be sure to look into all the costs and requirements before signing up. In some cases, the fees can be steep or you'll be required to send all of your invoices to the financing company. For more information, see the article below.
Related Article: What is Invoice Financing?
Integrating Invoices with Accounting
When you’re looking into how to send electronic invoices with your processor or other invoice service, be sure to check for compatibility with your existing accounting software or systems. Some electronic invoice services can integrate with QuickBooks and other accounting software for easy reconciliation and record keeping.
As with any method of accepting card payments, security is important for both your business and your customers. You should ensure that your electronic invoice service (usually through your credit card processor) is PCI compliant and up-to-date on current security technologies. Some security features may include tokenization, encryption, and other card security measures.
Electronic invoicing costs will vary depending on your processor. Some processors offer the service at no additional charge beyond your card acceptance rates and fees. E-invoicing is generally free for your clients, so they won’t need to pay an additional cost for the convenience of paying by card through your electronic invoice.
How do I find an electronic invoice service?
Electronic invoices are a service offered through many companies. Many credit card payment processors offer the ability to send electronic invoices with their payment gateways. If you’re already set up with a processor, you can contact them to determine if they offer electronic invoicing. If you’re not set up with a processor yet, you can sign up at CardFellow to get free quotes and find a processor who supports electronic invoices.
Inform Your Clients
Be sure to let your clients know that you’re switching to an electronic invoice system before sending their first electronic invoice. This may help reduce confusion or missed invoices, and allow you time to answer any questions. If clients aren’t aware that you’re switching to electronic invoices, they may not know to look for them, not know how to pay them, or think that it’s not official communication from your business.