personal finance

3 Tips for Becoming a Paperless Business

Business owners have been promising a paperless marketplace for over a decade, yet we’re still not living in a tree-free workplace. Why?

For one thing, customers actually want to go paperless, but they’re discouraged by the fact that the mailbox is often easier to deal with. As Forbes’ Rich Daly puts it, “The reason paper bills and statements remain popular is [bills sent by post are] there, waiting for you to deal with it at your convenience.”

If a customer opts into twenty billing programs, people will have twenty emails with secret links to securely-hosted statements. It’s not hard to imagine why they’d rather keep a stack of envelopes or mile-long receipts just to avoid the hassle of clicking through every single one online. So, how do you bring them around?

Start by providing a better service.

Have your business fitted for mobile forms

Virtually every industry has to deal with some form of inspections or audits. These processes can be costly, confusing, and time-consuming even for the most seasoned companies. For many organizations, even quarterly evaluations can create an enormous backlog of paperwork that takes days if not weeks to sift through. Plus, when it’s all said and done, those mountains of reports don’t really offer much actionable information outside of pass/fail parameters.

That’s where a paperless audit solution comes in. Data capture platforms can do everything from simplifying and streamlining the auditing process to generating and assigning automated workflows. What’s more, it’s both mobile and offline– if your enterprise takes you away from wifi, you still won’t need to resort to paper forms.

Instead of dumping all your paper-based reports into a dusty filing cabinet, you can keep your data in a self-hosted, on-premises digital environment. From one unified interface, you can analyze trends and understand your data better using a business intelligence dashboard and easy-to-share metrics.

Ditch the opt-in program, make it mandatory

Another way to help customers adopt your solution is to eliminate opting in altogether. If they want a paper statement or receipt, charge a fee. Don’t be afraid to explain how the paperless format is mutually beneficial: it costs less for both your business and the consumer, it boosts productivity, and it’s better for the environment.

Whether they realize it or not, customers who are reluctant to change to digital billing are holding you back from providing a better service. According to an AIIM study, paperless departments have a 6.7 times faster average customer response time. That’s not a bad tradeoff for preceding paper statements.

The point isn’t to punish those customers who prefer traditional billing methods, though. The fee should be nominal, more of a talking point than a prohibition. Consider it an opportunity to “brag” about how your business is leading the way to a paperless future. You’re not ashamed of your progressive new policy— it’s a badge of honor, one you’re willing to share with your clientele.

Get with the program: launch an app

Last year, 56% of all bills were paid online in the US– the first time Americans settled more than half of their payments electronically. The main reason for this is the mobile app integration. The convenience of a one- or two-tap bill pay solution trumps anything traditional methods can offer by a wide margin. Have your customers been asking whether your business has a mobile app on the App Store or Google Play? There’s a reason for that.

If you haven’t already begun developing one, it’s time to ask yourself why not. Sure, it’s quaint when the small town corner cafe hand-writes every receipt, but it’s certainly not convenient. Don’t end up like a mom-and-pop shop if you can help it. For customers to perceive of your company as cutting edge you need to cultivate a digital presence: build a website, implement online ordering, develop a mobile application.


Bringing about a paper-free marketplace isn’t going to happen overnight, but tech-savvy businesses are offering alternatives to paper billing are finding their customers appreciate the shift. Think about how you can innovate around digital concepts to trim the fat and boost sales. For example, Amazon’s recommendation system led to a 29% sales increase after implementing suggestions based on user search and purchase history. Who knows what the next big thing will be?

For now, building your business’s future growth around digital tools seems to be the key to staying ahead of the pack.

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