What is an e-invoice?

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Not all digital invoices are e-invoices

“Electronic invoice” or “e-invoice” is a common term, but there is still some confusion surrounding what exactly falls into this definition. Here we add some clarity to the term and look at the benefits of e-invoicing compared to other commonly used invoice types.

Print invoice

Paper invoices are most often created digitally, but then printed and sent by post to the counterpart. A paper-based invoice flow does not demand any larger investments, but it is a labour-intensive, costly and insecure process. It takes time for the invoice to reach the recipient, and there is no traceability of the delivery.

  • No system/process changes
  • Labour-intensive
  • Expensive
  • Slow payment cycle
  • Low track and traceability

  • Low data quality and visibility
  • Not accepted by many organisations
  • Not environmentally friendly

PDF invoice

Invoices exchanged over email as PDF or Word files are a first step away from a paper-based invoice flow. However, emailed invoices are not e-invoices. For the invoice data to get into the recipient’s system, it must be manually keyed in or captured using OCR, which is typically very time-consuming and error-prone.

  • First step towards digitalisation
  • Cost-effective
  • Not secure
  • Low traceability
  • Emails can get lost or sent to spam
  • Manual or scan and capture entry

  • Low data quality and visibility
  • Often printed for processing

E-invoice

An e-invoice is issued, transmitted, received and processed electronically. It is digital throughout its entire life cycle, from when the issuer creates it until the recipient processes it. E-invoicing is an integrated solution that enables a fully automated flow directly from one company’s ERP system to another.

  • Secure
  • Real-time delivery and processing
  • Touchless operations
  • High data quality
  • Track and traceability
  • Better cash flow and lower DSO
  • High ROI
  • Environmentally friendly

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