Automation in grocery stores uses less wooden pallets.
Automation in grocery stores uses less wooden pallets.
June 2, 2022

The Power of Automation in Grocery Stores. Ditch Manual AP

by Jacob Statler

Grocery stores are evolving at the speed of light — self-checkout, delivery, online ordering, and app checkout are becoming standard. But what about automation in grocery stores?

If you’re in it to win it, you’ll be all-in on making whatever changes necessary to keep your stores thriving including automation.

While you need to dive headfirst into this evolution to keep your customers happy and loyal, don’t neglect to streamline your Admin office as well.

Fresh produce department scene: a small person hands a piece of fruit to a clerk to weigh on a scale. Learn how automation in grocery stores can save you time and money.

The bottom line is that your grocery store AP should be evolving just as quickly as your customer-centered services because they go hand-in-hand.

Streamlining is the name of the game when it comes to boosting efficiency, profit, and staff morale.

AP automation in grocery stores helps streamline your workflows, saving you time and money. Money that can be put into customer-centered services to elevate their experience in your store.

Let’s address how you can streamline your grocery store AP. We’ll cover:

Why Prioritize Streamlining Automation in Grocery Stores? 

Graphic with text showing the following information from Statista and how automation in grocery stores impacts the U.S. food and beverage retail market.

Supermarket and other grocery store sales hit an estimated $742 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 (a jump from $653 billion in 2019), which accounted for nearly 86% of the entire U.S. food and beverage retail market.

There’s no doubt the grocery store industry has been booming in the last 2 years.

Today, business is rapidly changing — your grocery store needs to evolve and adapt to stay ahead of your competition. Amid all the changes, prioritizing the streamlining of your grocery store AP needs to be at the top of your list.

After Covid, many employees want to continue to have the flexibility of working remotely. Keeping your top talent means offering new levels of flexibility. So yes, even grocery store employees whose responsibilities allow it may need to work from home.

Streamlining your AP through automation in grocery stores allows you to offer that opportunity to your AP staff.

Graph from CSI Market showing how automation in grocery stores can impact revenue. In 2021, grocery stores’ average gross profit margin grew to 22.19%, compared to 19.7% in 2020 and 19.65% in 2019.

In 2021, grocery stores’ average gross profit margin grew to 22.19%, compared to 19.7% in 2020 and 19.65% in 2019. Your profit margin is where the rubber meets the road in dictating the future of your grocery store.

Automating your grocery store AP can reduce bookkeeping costs, help pad your bottom line, and protect your profit margin.

7 Ways to Organize Your Grocery Store AP

Streamlining includes organization. Organize your grocery store AP just like you organize the shelves in your store. Well-thought-out organization is crucial to ensuring your grocery store AP flows steadily and smoothly.

Automating your AP with a platform like Ottimate boosts efficiency, saves time, and channels your inner Marie Kondo.

Check out these 7 ways to revolutionize your grocery business with smart workflow choices:

  1. Get the right documentation — Keep a vendor master file, a central hub of all vendor info, including W-9s and tax id numbers.
  2. Centralize all records — Make sure to enter invoices into the system promptly into your accounting software. A good practice is to enter invoices the day they arrive. Keep all records in one place.

**Using an automated AP solution like Ottimate simplifies this step and stores your digital documents for anytime, easy access.

  1. Reconcile accounts daily — Double-check that invoices match purchase orders. Be sure to keep track of disputes and resolutions.
  2. Segregate duties — Accounts Payable is one department where unwitting mistakes and outright fraud are most likely to happen. Have different people in charge of approving and processing payments to help prevent this.
  3. Include electronic payment methodsVirtual cards and automated clearing house (ACH) transfers encrypt your payment data to ensure security and open the door for early payment discounts. 
  4. Consider electronic data interchange (EDI) — Paperless processes save time and ensure more accurate invoice processing. If you adopt supplier relationship management systems for procurement functions, you’ll be able to automate much of your AP workflow, including invoice receipt, GL coding, and approvals. You can also keep closer track of and pay for inventory and services received.
  5. Automate accounts payable — AP automation in grocery stores will revolutionize your accounting department. Automation replaces many manual bookkeeping tasks and frees up valuable staff time. It can protect your grocery store business from costly errors and reduce the days payable outstanding (DPO) by an average of 5.55 days. That could shave off an entire workweek!
Automation in grocery stores can reduce the days payable outstanding (DPO) by an average of 5.55 days. Source: Aberdeen Strategy and Research

6 Benefits of Automation in Grocery Stores 

Accounts payable is the “most time-consuming, laborious and paper-intensive finance and administrative function,” according to controllers surveyed by the Institute of Finance and Management.

But it can also be an area where you recoup labor hours.

Automation in grocery stores can help with Accounts payable because it is the “most time-consuming, laborious and paper-intensive finance and administrative function,” according to controllers surveyed by the Institute of Finance and Management. 

The most significant change in the post-pandemic grocery world is online ordering, which means more of your staff are doing the shopping for customers. While you might not be able to automate that nuanced service in the way of Amazon’s new supermarket, you can automate much of your AP.

Ottimate has customized our AP automation in grocery stores to streamline your accounts payable process. So, rather than continue with “business as usual,” it’s time to rethink any outdated AP processes.

Ottimate offers 6 benefits that make it an easy choice for your grocery store’s automated AP solution:

  1. Save Time & Money 

Utilizing end-to-end invoice automation, Ottimate automatically tags each line item with the proper GL code, helping you review and approve invoices 80% faster.

Digitizing documents eliminates time and money spent on manual data entry. For example, when you have digital invoices and files, it’s much easier to export reports into Excel, filter them by product or price, and audit purchasing.

A confident worker thinks about automation in grocery stores, holding a tablet computer and dressed appropriately for a walk-in freezer, stands in their supermarket's commissary warehouse, ready to guide a direct store delivery back to the distribution center.

Automatic approval routing reduces your grocery store’s invoice approval processing time. Ottimate lets you create approval rules to allow pre-coded invoices to be sent to the right people every time. You can also track approvals in real-time.

Once invoices have been processed within Ottimate, they’re instantly exported into your grocery store’s accounting system. Ottimate syncs seamlessly with multiple accounting systems.

  1. Eliminate 90% of Paper 

Many AP automation platforms let you upload invoices in bulk. However, only Ottimate goes a step further with Vendor Connections, a revolutionary way to get the equivalent of EDI invoices from vendors — even if they don’t offer it.

This means you can ditch the piles of paper invoices to be sorted, processed, and stored. Less paper requires less storage space, less of a footprint, and fewer opportunities for invoices to go missing.

  1. Extreme Expense Management 

Allocate your spend precisely, with just a few clicks. Split any item between store locations, or grocery, fresh, dairy or bulk departments, to prepare your invoices for seamless accounting export.

Ottimate uses machine learning and AI to flag discrepancies on invoices, keeping you in control of your expenses.

  1. Cash Flow Management

You already know that in the grocery store business, cash is king. So if your cash flow dries up, your store’s in trouble.

Partnering with Ottimate to streamline your grocery store AP allows you to track where each invoice is in the payment process, in real-time. In addition, you can easily see when payments will be made, so you’re in the know when it comes to managing your store’s cash flow.

  1. Improved Vendor Relations

Nurturing your grocery store vendor relationships is vital. Automating your grocery store AP workflow creates more efficient invoice processing.

A promptly paid vendor is a happy vendor.

  1. Simplified Audit Trails  

Audit processes are much more manageable when AP is automated. Your documents are easily accessible, and you can rest easy knowing all invoices are properly coded, making it simple to follow through when the auditors come to call.

Streamlining Is The New Standard

In today’s market, streamlining and automation are the new standard.

You’ve got to stay up to date with running your grocery store more efficiently, serving your customers quickly, and automating all processes possible.

Streamlining your grocery store AP through automation paves the road for your store’s future. Taking this step today positions your grocery store to handle the many changes occurring in the industry.

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