Author: Russ Oatman, Senior Vice President, Treasury Management
The COVID-19 pandemic caused us to transition many of our in-person activities to the internet. From buying groceries to chatting with friends, we as consumers are doing more and more online. One area where this change is particularly apparent is online shopping. Ecommerce grew tremendously in 2020, contributing to an additional $105 billion in U.S. online revenue. While this trend has been great for online retailers, it has placed additional pressure on the United States Postal Service (USPS), causing mail delays.
Even though postal workers have worked long shifts and have strived to deliver the mail on time, the growing volume of mail has made it difficult to keep up. Late mail extends beyond birthday cards and online shopping. It often includes important check payments and bills that need to be paid on time.
Even though the use of paper checks is on the decline, around 50% of businesses still use paper checks as their primary method of payment. Small businesses report that they are waiting weeks or months for checks to arrive, causing some to switch to more expensive private shippers. This results in an obvious impact on cash flow, making it difficult for some businesses to pay their bills or accelerate growth.
In addition to straining your cash flow, delayed mail makes it harder to track payments, which could add strain to customer or business relationships. One small business recently reported that two insurance companies canceled their policies after payments got lost in the mail. Your business is also at risk of sending customers late payment notices for checks they have already mailed to you, resulting in a less than ideal customer experience.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy recently unveiled a proposal to overhaul USPS and improve the agency’s profitability. Some key elements of the plan include closing some post office locations and implementing longer delivery timeframes. Currently, the standard delivery within the continental U.S. is three days. Under the new plan, standard delivery would change to six days. Even though this plan has not yet been put into action, there are steps businesses can take now to avoid potential issues down the road.
If your business is suffering from late payments due to delayed or lost mail, switching to electronic payments can help your business pay and get paid on time. Implementing an electronic payments solution makes it easy and convenient for you to electronically send invoices while providing a convenient payment experience for your customers – prompting them to pay by ACH or card. You can even set up automatic alerts to remind your customers when payment is due. Additionally, electronic payment solutions make it easy to securely pay your vendors on time.
Electronic payments are not only fast, they are efficient and easy to track. Sending, processing, and receiving paper invoices often requires onsite teams, resulting in a slower payment cycle. Automating the payment lifecycle with a cloud-based solution through your financial institution makes it easy to manage the payment process from any location.
Electronic payments are also more secure. If someone mails you a check, there is always a chance that the check won’t clear. Additionally, checks often have a higher risk of fraud because they prominently display the payee’s account and routing number.
Digital payment solutions are often easy to implement as well, allowing you to get up and running in minutes. Some solutions integrate directly into your accounting software and even help you convert your check payments to ACH or card, reducing your internal workload and strengthening your vendor relationships.
If your business relies on snail mail to pay and get paid, now may be the time to explore what digital payment solutions are the right fit for your business. If you’re interested in implementing a payments solution or want to learn more, our team is here to help.
About the Author
Russ is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Treasury Services. He and his team are responsible for providing innovative payment solutions to commercial clients nationally. His responsibilities include managing customer relationships and developing new products that enhance client accounts.