The idea of “going paperless” has been in the marketplace for quite some time. But for a variety of reasons, retail businesses have been slow to take advantage of this growing trend. But now they are! Let’s look at why and how they are doing it.
The “Why” behind Going Paperless
Going paperless can mean different things to different people. For many it means protecting the environment and sustaining our natural resources. But to businesses, going paperless can mean streamlining storage requirements and producing greater efficiencies, thereby creating significant reductions in costs. Even minor reductions in paper use can be beneficial.
The Growing List of Paperless Benefits
Eliminating paper from your retail business, even if it is not 100%, has a positive impact. It saves time, reduces space requirements, and provides better data security. See what Shopify says about going paperless.
For example, implementing a paperless program can:
- Reduce the amount of paper and management of paper documents.
- Reduce the document lifecycle cost for development, publishing, storage, maintenance, and retirement of documents.
- Retrieve information more easily – Search digitally for invoices rather than thumbing through stacks of paper.
- Automate employee time-keeping for greater accuracy and less paper-handling.
- Provide digital receipts to customers – More people are getting used to using their phones for storing purchase information.
- Simplify inventory management and control – Scan it and report it!
- Build a database of customer information – Manage and access account information more easily
- Manage your calendar tasks and appointments.
- Manage financial information and reporting – Less time to produce, and more current!
- Manage customer loyalty programs, events, and all social media activity electronically.
Retail’s Challenges to Going Paperless
Customer Mindset – In the retail industry, the impact of paper is tremendous while also tenacious. Going 100% paperless can be difficult with every transaction producing a paper record for company and customer. Customer acceptance of electronic invoicing has been slow. But paper receipts and bills are easily lost and misplaced causing customer support problems as well as difficulties in tracking receivables.
Macy’s challenge was how to change the customer mindset from having the comfort of a physical piece of paper for a receipt, invoice, report or other document. The company had reluctantly faced this roadblock as “the price of doing business.”
Recently, however, the company decided to change its objectives by redefining goals for achieving higher customer acceptance of paperless statements and billing. To further reduce waste and costs for remaining paper and packaging material use, the company also decided to standardize quantities and sizes to reduce the cost of custom pieces. See more on Macy’s going paperless.
Nature of Retail – More often, the challenge to achieving a paperless business is the intransient nature of retail. “Retail is king for hiring part time employees, seasonal employees, etc., all with a high turnover rate. This usually means A LOT of paper…” notes one member of our management team.
To help reduce the mountain of paper, NEdocs scans customer HR documents and Accounts Payables as well as packing slips, invoices, receipts and journal entries.
How to Go Paperless (0-100%)
For retail, as well as other industries, implementing a paperless solution requires modernizing current document policies and procedures to not only benefit from the efficiencies of digital documents but also offer a better user experience. More and more customers are using their cell phones and apps for everything from making purchases to paying bills.
SafetyCulture.com notes, “In a recent study by Cisco, implementing technologies like mobile-enabled shopping, interactive signage, and improved delivery systems could lead to a 15.6 per cent improvement in profitability for a large, national retailer.”
Keeping up with changing user buying behavior requires retail companies to be more technology savvy. Most businesses are now migrating toward:
- Cloud-based applications and storage
- Mobile-enabled shopping
- Digital compliance inspections (e.g., OSHA)
- Digital document security
- Better customer experiences
- Digital scanning applications
To phase in a paperless system, you should:
- Assess your current documents and your going-forward goals and requirements for paper and digitized documents.
- Devise a plan for modernizing your document policies and procedures to move toward a paperless environment.
- Implement the plan.
- Operate and maintain your documents based on your plan.
- Make needed adjustments and improvements as you discover them.
With a trusted advisor who has experience in retail, you can follow this process to simplify migrating to a system without paper.
To start moving toward taking your retail business paperless, contact New England Document Systems. We will share our experience and expertise in managing both paper and digital documents to answer your questions and help you start on your path to less paper and greater efficiency.