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Invoices form an essential part of business operations. An invoice confirms the details of goods and services supplied to a customer and establishes an obligation to pay.
Invoices are critical to financial record-keeping for businesses in terms of filing taxes, accounting, managing inventory (if a business is goods-based) or tracking billed hours for professional services.
This article will cover how to send an invoice. You’ll also discover some important things to bear in mind if you want to get paid on time.
It is best to prepare invoices using a professional invoice template. Using a template will ensure all the key details are included.
Maintaining good communication with customers is vital and this starts with ensuring that all goods, services, price and preferred payment methods have been agreed prior to any work starting. Before sending an invoice, you should ensure that the goods or services have been supplied in full.
So, once it is prepared, how do you send someone an invoice?
There are three main ways to send an invoice:
Send an invoice via mail. This, of course, was once the main method of invoicing. Mail remains popular with some companies who do not use email. Of course, this has the usual drawbacks of postal services. Delivery can be slow and unconfirmed, and addresses can change.
Send invoices using email. Invoices are delivered much faster this way and can be easier to route to the correct person or department. As long as the company receiving it handles email well, it should not go missing.
Use invoicing software. Invoicing software can help to remove the hassle of chasing invoices. Most invoicing solutions come with a payment link, meaning your customers can pay instantly. Allowing immediate payment this way can lead to faster invoice settlement.
|💡 You can also read the guide to online invoicing software options to learn more
These days, emails and invoice software are the most popular methods for sending invoices. Sending digital invoices is cost-effective and more environmentally friendly. Digital invoices are also faster and more secure than paper invoices.
A 2019 study into e-invoicing showed that the majority of customers now prefer to receive invoices online.¹ This continues to increase. The global e-invoicing market is expected to grow over 16% a year up to 2027.²
Looking further into the reasons for this, research by EY has shown that cost reduction is the leading benefit. Over half of companies cited this as the principal advantage of digital invoices. Overall costs of digital invoices are less than half.
|🔍 Did you know?
|Companies handle digital invoices in 3 days on average, compared to 15 for paper invoices.³
Sending digital invoices also opens up the opportunity for faster payments as you can send them instantly.
You can use the free invoice generator from Wise to create professional e-invoices.
In some cases, you can also include a direct payment link for customers to make payment with minimal effort. For example, if you use QuickBooks, then you can add your Wise Business account details directly to your invoice.
Wise is a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks. The Wise Business account is designed with international business in mind. You can get 9 major currency account details for a one-off fee. You can then add your account details to the invoice to receive overseas payments like a local.
Customers can pay online in their local currency without having to figure out the conversion fees. This can take the hassle out of international invoice payments.
You should send invoices as attachments to an email, not in the body of the email. If you send them as an attachment, it makes it easy for the customer to save, print, or download your invoice. An attachment is also easier to upload to invoicing software.
It is best to create a non-editable invoice, such as in PDF format. If the invoice can be edited (in the body of the email or as a Word document, for example), the recipient could alter it.
A short email should accompany the invoice attachment. As with all invoice-related communication, this is best kept informative and polite. Include the most important information, such as business name, due date, amount, and any related purchase order numbers.
Using a good invoice template can be helpful with international customers. You must adequately explain payment terms, deadlines, payment methods and preferred currencies.
When to send invoices is a business decision. You will usually agree on the invoice date and payment schedule with customers before supplying goods or services.
When supplying goods, it is usual to invoice as soon as the customer receives the items. For service delivery, you may choose to invoice after the project is complete or upon reaching certain milestones.
Subscription-based businesses tend to send recurring invoices at agreed intervals. For example, an online accounting tool subscription may send the invoice monthly to the customer.
Companies want to have invoices paid as fast as possible. Having to wait can impact business cash flow.
Chasing invoices is time-consuming, so what can be done to speed up invoice payments?
Some ways to get invoices paid faster include:
Include key information in the email subject line, such as business name and invoice number. This will help the customer realize the content and importance of the email. You can also check with customers for their preferred subject contents.
Contact the customer after sending the invoice. This is particularly important with new customers. You can check that the correct person has received it and if the details are as expected.
Consider using invoicing software, such as QuickBooks, to send and manage invoices. Such software can also be used to send automatic payment reminders. These features can help free up precious admin time to focus on other critical tasks.
Offer several payment options, and make it as easy as possible to pay. If you use online invoicing, include a link for instant payment. With international customers, adding the option to pay in local currency can speed up payment.
Now that you know how to send an invoice, you’ll want to make sure your invoices get paid on time.
Invoicing international customers has another layer of complexity due to different currencies and potential payment delays. Wise Business can help with this.
Wise is safe and used by over 300k businesses of all sizes each quarter.
Allowing payment in local currency is an excellent way to make payment easier and faster. Wise Business makes it possible to have local account details, such as a UK account number and sort code - even as a US resident.
You don’t need to open several costly international accounts. All your currencies are held in one easy-to-manage account.
You can also pay overseas invoices or suppliers with low and transparent fees.
|💡 For all you need to know about invoices, don't forget to read and bookmark the ultimate guide to invoicing from Wise!
- The E-Invoicing Journey 2019-2025
- E-invoicing Market to Grow at a CAGR of 16.2%
- EY - Worldwide electronic invoicing survey 2018 (Page 3,4)
All sources checked 25 October 2021.
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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