Back in 2008-2009 I worked for a medium sized business and one of the things that surprised me was they had a huge envelope stuffing machine. This machine would take in a stack of printed letters, read a unique code on the top left of the page and stuff the envelope and close the flap. It was leased out by the local postal service company, and we also had an automated US Post Office Stamp Printer. Since I was the on-site Local IT support it was now my job to ‘service’ the Software, the Paper Stuffer, and the Stamp Printer; I can tell you that sucked.
At the time however, there was no other way of doing it. Online invoices with Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains was not a thing, and since everyone was on NET 30 terms; they expected their invoices to arrive after the product was shipped. Approximately 1-5 days after shipment (whenever the accounting team ran the invoice batch). Emailing invoices should have been the norm then, but it still was not.
Fast forward to 2016! 8 Years later. I had a client ask if I had a solution to paper stuffing. *Cue nightmares of that paper stuffing machine* They said “There has got to be a better way to invoice customers by paper!” I agree. It takes about 2-3 hrs per day printing, stuffing, and applying postage to paper invoices. Incidentally in their market, online invoicing is still not an accepted norm.
Taking this as a challenge, I figured there has to be a way to use the Post Office like a Web Service. I send a PDF & Destination Address, and it should be mailed out. So far the best one I’ve found is Lob.
In our case, we would generate Fishbowl PDFs; and upload them with the Bill To Address for invoicing. If the customer wanted certified mail, we could then track the invoice to confirm it was received. Lots of possibilities!
We are currently in negotiation to build this as a Fishbowl Plugin, but its not an impossible project. I can see customers using this to save a lot of time and money. Costs are billed monthly, ranging from $0.95/letter to $0.78/letter.
Depending on staff rates; a generous $25/hr (Wage + Taxes + Benefits) to mail 40 Invoices in 2 hrs (Printing, Collating, Stuffing, Stamping) would net to around $1.25/letter. Then consider the linear cost of additional invoices, and opportunity costs from not having to to handle this. What if we had to handle 250 invoices; by that point you’d have to consider an entire day dedicated to invoicing. We think this has room for improvement overall.
Give us a shout if this is something you’d be happy to automate away.