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digital invoice format

How to turn the new digital invoice format into an opportunity to communicate with your customers

The new digital invoice format opens up an unexpected channel of communication with customers who can be reached with content that is relevant and strategic for the company and that can convey CTAs and commercial messages. Doxee has the right tool to help companies take advantage of this opportunity: Doxee Pvideo®.

 

The new digital invoice format

From January 1, 2019, all Italian companies will say goodbye to analogue billing and switch to digital (although there are some exemptions and extensions for different types of businesses).

The novelty will be, therefore, that for each B2B transaction (those between individuals, and not only for transactions with Public Administration offices), companies must use a specific digital invoice format, which must then be stored for at least 10 years through a software developed internally or with the help of companies in the sector that perform all the related requirements.

Clearly, this will require companies to take obligatory steps in order to comply with the law.

The first step concerns the evaluation of the company’s processes and technologies to be used during the invoicing phase in order to effectively understand the degree of intervention necessary to ensure they are in compliance with the technical specifications.

Subsequently, it is necessary to organize and update customer data. To do so, you must contact all your customers and ask them to provide the correct data to be used when the invoice is to be uploaded to the Exchange System.

This is very important since the digital invoice format can only be issued and sent if all the information provided is correct. Otherwise, there is a risk of heavy penalties.

At the same time, the company must transmit to its suppliers all the information relating to the delivery address and the communication channels outside the SdI, using a PEC address for delivery or an ID code obtained from accreditation within the Exchange System.

(In this sense, it may be useful to make a pre-registration on the website of the Revenue Agency so as to allow the Exchange System to automatically connect the invoices received with the customer’s VAT number regardless of the computer address indicated by the supplier in the XML file.)

After the company has registered its telematic address with the Revenue Agency, it must also provide for a multi-channel invoicing system in the event that it has to manage invoices to and from foreign parties.

In addition, as mentioned above, businesses must have an archiving system in place that is able to store invoices, both sent and received, in digital format for at least 10 years.

In light of this short list of requirements, it is clear that e-invoicing will require a significant effort on the part of companies in terms of investment and alignment with legal requirements.

 

The advantages of electronic invoicing

Do not be fooled: electronic invoicing is a great opportunity for all companies who are able to transform it to their advantage.

It’s not just about cost savings. Adopting a digital invoicing will provide benefits in many areas. For example, the new digital system will reduce processing costs. This will allow companies that have to manage more than 3000 invoices per year to benefit from savings of around 7.5 to 11.5 euros per invoice.

Again: it will no longer be necessary to physically store tax documentation. It will be sufficient to implement a database within the company or to outsource the service to intermediaries who are responsible for managing all processes required by law.

Not to mention the possibility of reducing the workforce currently employed in activities that are not very productive (almost purely compilative) and redirecting it to other tasks. And, it will reduce the time that staff needs to spend on processing activities, so that they can focus on tasks with greater value.

It will also reduce data entry errors and reduce (or even eliminate) the risk of false or duplicated invoices by automating cross-checking.

These, and many others are all undeniable advantages of electronic invoicing, but there is one aspect that is often not considered and that, instead, could become the most significant benefit of adopting the new digital format.

 

The marketing advantages of electronic invoicing

Electronic invoicing can, in fact, become an effective tool to open a direct and privileged channel of communication with customers, to be used as a touch point to carry out a variety of marketing activities.

How is that possible? In order to understand this, it is necessary to briefly summarize the main stages of the electronic invoicing process.

  1. As a first step, once the service has been completed (goods delivered or services performed) an invoice must be issued in Xml format and in a file of 5 Mb or less. For the issued document to have full legal validity, it must be accompanied by a digital signature, which can be obtained by requesting it from the certifiers accredited by the Agency for Digital Italy, or from the local Chamber of Commerce. The digital signature is nothing more than one of the different types of electronic signature, and it is the computer equivalent of a traditional handwritten signature that guarantees the authenticity and integrity of the document, making it legally valid.
  2. Immediately afterwards, the invoice must be sent, referring to the recipient’s identification code or to his PEC address. The timing for this second phase is rather tight: the submission must be made within the deadline of the periodic VAT settlement relative to the date that the document is issued.
  3. Once the invoice has been sent, the Exchange System ensures that the recipient receives the invoice, except in the case of invoices sent to foreign countries and B2C invoices.
  4. Finally, all of those who receive invoices in electronic format are obliged to keep them for 10 years (even private individuals subject to the minimum system or to the so-called “flat-rate system” if they have chosen to use this format).

 

As can be seen from this brief summary, e-invoicing involves a phase in which the private individual receives a document by e-mail, i.e. an invoice, from the company.

Until now, this moment, was associated with boring, repetitive processes that often generated stress and frustration. Instead, the new digital format provides a new approach to invoicing.

If you think about it, the electronic invoicing obligation requires every company that carries out commercial transactions with other individuals to send an e-mail to its customers. But doesn’t this also happen when a customer is contacted for any other reason, such as for the promotion of a special offer or as a reminder that a service is about to expire?

Yes. So why shouldn’t you also ensure that this step takes advantage of marketing best practices? To do it correctly, however, there is one thing that you must remember: the attention span of the average user is constantly decreasing.

If until a few years ago the amount of time devoted to a single piece of content was about 12 seconds, today it has dropped to 8 seconds and there is no sign of improvement. It’s natural when you consider the huge amount of information that we have access to every day via the internet. It’s a bit like a form of self-defence: because it would be impossible to read and know everything you have access to, you have to reduce the “space” dedicated to each piece of content.

This means that whatever you decide to do on the web, it must be incredibly fast or incredibly interesting. To achieve this, the communication tool must be chosen carefully.

It is no mystery that, in a world that where we have less and less free time, the image wins over text. It is no coincidence, in fact, that in the last period Facebook, which trades in both images and text, has suffered a slowdown in subscribers, in favor of Instagram, that trades in social images.

If we add to this the fact that most activities carried out on the web make use of video, it is easy to understand that video is the preferred format for digital communication. But that’s not enough. It is not only the container that counts, but also the content.

What do you communicate to be able to stand out, to be truly memorable? The first answer is almost trivial: something that interests the user, something that is relevant. In other words, it is necessary for the message to be personally relevant to the user so that he feels directly called upon to respond.

This is consistent with a consolidated internet trend: personalization.

We all want to have the same experiences, but we want them to be unique each time and unique to us. To make this possible, it is necessary to build communication that is tailor-made, perfectly aligned to the characteristics of the customer-user. Even better if the customer-user is able to contribute to the creation of such content. Moreover, there is nothing more personalised than something we have created ourselves: it is the phenomenon of the so-called prosumerWith this word, we indicate a hybrid subject, born with the advent of the internet, which combines the characteristics of the producer and the consumer.

We all are here, at different times: for example, when we decide how to customize (precisely!) a product that we want to buy. By its very nature, prosumers do not want to play a passive role, but claim to actively participate in the production phases, building their own consumer product and, why not, also communication. Every digital narrative must take this into account and build content that is no longer “product-centric” but instead build content that focuses on the customer’s needs and on his unique characteristics.

Video, relevance, personalization. From the combination of these three precious insights comes a simple and surprising intuition: to use electronic invoicing to reach customers with content that has the characteristics described above. If this were possible, there would be an extraordinary result. Customers could be reached periodically by content that necessarily interests them, namely invoices. But unlike before, these would be in digital invoice format and, in addition, they would be video invoices.

Maybe these videos could address the customers by name and have different content, depending on the type of digital invoice format or maybe the type of customer you are talking to (is a new customer? Is the customer approaching their renewal date? Is it a customer who might be interested in reviewing the terms of their contract?).

It can be assumed that such content will be appreciated by the recipient, whose attention can be said to have been captured. One thing to avoid is relegating the user to the role of spectator, therefore purely passive;  instead, the viewer can decide which content he wishes to see or what not to see. In other words, why not create a dynamic narrative? The user will decide which part of the video and in what order, so as to build a version of the video invoice that meets their needs.

Everything that has been outlined so far is already possible.

 

Doxee Pvideo®

That’s right. The video invoice is available through Doxee Pvideo®.

While Doxee allows you to quickly and effectively manage electronic invoicing through the appropriate service (known as pX), it also opens up a considerable opportunity for communication, precisely with services such as Doxee Pvideo®. This service allows all companies to create customized videos that integrate communications with the customer in an innovative way.

In the case of the digital invoice format, for example, you can communicate the data relevant to the transaction through a personalized video, which is addressed directly to the recipient. In this way, you can reach the user who is impacted by the invoice with highly relevant content.

Not only that.

The Doxee Pvideo® system is particularly effective in terms of customer care. By being able to choose what to see, users can also report issues or problems and find immediate answers or quick directions in the video for assistance. In this way, the customer has the feeling of being heard, and he receives a prompt solution to his problems or requirements.

The digital innovation provided by the Doxee Pvideo® service makes digital invoicing a tool to strengthen the customer relationship.

In the light of all this, it can be said that electronic invoicing is not only an opportunity to rethink administrative procedures, it’s an opportunity to embrace a digital transformation that makes them more streamlined and secure. It’s also a marketing opportunity.

As always, companies who were ready to embrace e-invoicing on January 1, 2019, will have an undoubted competitive advantage over others, and this includes digital marketing.

Choosing a valuable partner, such as Doxee who can provide experience and professionalism in this delicate phase, as well as effective and innovative solutions, is not only strategic, but even necessary.

 

Discover how to incorporate video into your marketing strategy with Doxee Pvideo®. Take advantage of features for personalization, user-directed storytelling, and advanced analytics. Learn more about Doxee Interactive Experience:  

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