AvidXchange is known for software that automates the accounts payable process. What you may not realize is that we have a team dedicated to simplifying accounts receivable (AR) for suppliers as well.
In a recent episode of our “Net 30” podcast, which is dedicated to topics that impact the careers of financial professionals, host Chris Elmore, the company’s chief evangelist, addressed modern technologies influencing payment processes and visibility into vital cashflow for business owners.
Becky Hughes, AvidXchange’s vice president of supplier strategy and insights, and Jamal Harvey, AvidXchange’s manager of supplier growth, talked about trends they’ve identified and addressed by talking with thousands of our supplier customers.
Read on to learn more about their observations. Or listen to the full episode below.
More than 965,000 vendors have received payments through the AvidPay Network over the past five years. Every day, our team talks to more than 5,000 suppliers, helping them adopt e-payment solutions and create more predictable cashflow.
We routinely uncover vendor struggles and take that information back to our product team, which works to innovate and create new tools to help address supplier challenges.
As this feedback loop continues, AvidXchange builds innovative technologies to make our supplier customers’ jobs easier. This includes automating processes, creating paperless invoices and improving efficiency.
With so many apps and software products available for small and mid-size companies today, the options are overwhelming, especially when it comes to financial management tools. Often, this leads to decision paralysis, and businesses choose to stick with their old ways instead of embracing new technologies.
Loss of control is a sticking point for many suppliers considering going digital with their payments. They’re accustomed to the traditional approach of sending a paper invoice and waiting for a paper check via mail. They find comfort in the tangible process.
However, embracing digital payments gives more visibility into the status of each invoice. Additionally, it helps speed cashflow and improve resource planning.
This is why AvidXchange is introducing a new, no-cost solution to give suppliers enhanced visibility into their cash flow via its AvidPay Network for Suppliers portal. AvidPay Network for Suppliers is a self-service digital portal where suppliers can check the status of their invoices.
According to Hughes, the portal is meant to bring the benefits of personal banking to a small business.
“It should feel like an intuitive experience whether you’re accessing it on a mobile device or a desktop device,” she said. “If you’re talking to one of our teammates and agents, the information you’re getting in that moment needs to be the exact same as what you would see online.”
With the AvidPay Network for Supplier portal, controllers and other financial team members can make more informed decisions and solidify plans for business growth. The portal helps strengthen the relationship between buyers and vendors, allowing suppliers to have more autonomy with invoice and payment statuses at the ready, instead of contacting their buyers for updates.
Hughes and Harvey said the latest rollout is just the beginning, as their team focuses on innovations to enhance operations for our supplier network. And that’s what makes AvidXchange unique.
According to Harvey, this dedication to suppliers is not only important for vendors, but also for their clients who utilize the AvidPay Network.
“As we put more buyers onto our network, we want to be able to tell those buyers that these are the four or five things every single one of your suppliers should expect. This is how we’re going to take care of them. This is how we’re going to accentuate that relationship,” Harvey said. “And when we talk to suppliers, we want to tell them we’re trying to help you get better. Continue to talk to us and we’re going to build things specifically for you to help your business continue to grow.”
Please note: The “Net 30” podcast is designed for audio consumption. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
- Chris Elmore, Chief Evangelist, AvidXchange
- Becky Hughes, VP of Supplier Strategy & Insights AvidXchange
- Jamal Harvey, Manager of Supplier Growth, AvidXchange
What we’re seeing inside over the last five, seven years is that these small businesses are waking up and coming into the market with access to tools and technology at their ready.
Because if you’re a janitorial company, you’re not thinking about accounts receivable. You want to go out to your next job. But we have to make it easy enough for them so you can get your cash flow and you can keep your business running.
Welcome to the “Net 30” podcast. I’m Chris Elmore, AvidXchange’s chief evangelist. AvidXchange is a leading provider of accounts payable automation, software and payment solutions for middle market businesses and their suppliers. Now, I’ve spent 22 years in this space and had over 8000 conversations with accounts payable departments, and I’ve written eight books on the accounts payable process.
And if you want to clear a room at a party, you tell them you’ve written a book about accounts payable. Now, the voices you just heard at the top of the episode belong to two of my really good friends here at AvidXchange, Becky Hughes and Jamal Harvey, who joined me for this episode to talk about the evolution and expectations of the modern supplier.
We talked about how the right technology can not only improve visibility and cash flow for business owners, but also cultivate strong relationships between vendors and their clients. And as always, on the net 30 podcast, we do this in less than 30 minutes. So, let’s get into it.
So AvidXchange is known as it accounts payable automator, which basically means that we create technology and services to help people receive invoices and get those invoices paid. But what people do not know about AvidXhange, or maybe our little secret, is that we have an entire army of people who sit in service to the supplier to help them receive that payment and help them produce that invoice.
So I have a statistic to back this up and that statistic is we’ve paid in the AvidXchange network over 965,000 suppliers over the last five years. So today on the podcast, I’m very excited. I am excited because I consider you guys are friends. Yeah, we’re not we’re not working. So we do. I know a lot of personal stuff about you.
Yeah. And it’s going to come out on this podcast. But look, by the way of introductions, we have Jamal Harvey with us. So and then we have Becky Hughes. Becky, what should people know about you? Personal elevator.
Personal elevator pitch. All right. So Becky Hughes been in the payments business for almost 20 years. Hmm. I know. I sold credit card processing before I joined AvidXchange. And I left credit card processing because I wanted nothing to do with payments.
When you joined we didn’t have payments.
No, we didn’t. No, we didn’t. I joined AvidXchange in 2009. I’ve been here for 14 years and have lived, breathed and built the supplier payments invoicing supplier side of our business. My whole career here at Avid.
Which is, by the way, so true live breed bill. It really did. It really did. You were the epicenter of those 965,000 suppliers.
Yeah, well, we’ve got a lot to talk about. We’ll get back to you in just a minute. And so Jamal Harvey’s here today. Hello. There we go.
How are you?
What should folks know about you?
I’ve been at AvidXchange almost five years the entire time. And supplier. I have four daughters and I am passionate about my people and my customers.
There you go. There you go. So the best way that I can maybe explain this relationship between Becky and Jamal is Jamal that you’re kind of dedicated to actually physically talking to the customers as it stands today. Yes. With your team. And we want to get into that. And in Becky, this kind of rolls up into great products that you produce for the suppliers.
Yeah. No, absolutely right. Our teams work together very closely on just understanding what our suppliers are struggling with. And then how do we bring that together with the power of our technology and the power of that, like the access of the data that we have inside of the network to provide really interesting capabilities for our customers. And Jamal helps us intersect and get that back out.
And I think the great thing about the partnership is there’s a feedback loop. So my team talks to the suppliers, I get the feedback, we give it to the product team, the product team tries to get new and interesting things to bring back to our team so we can give it to the supplier. So it’s a big feedback loop and without one, the other one doesn’t work.
So we’re working together continuously.
Well, let’s keep that up. So, to that point, give us numbers around how many folks you talk about.
So on any given day, we talk to about 5525 suppliers. And I had to look that up just to make sure that that number is correct. And there are about 5500 suppliers each. And every day that we’re here, we’re talking to that many suppliers. That’s a lot of folks that we’re trying to help every day get on e-payment solutions, get automated, get away from checks and try to better, better their business and make everything faster, safer, more secure.
And so all of this conversating comes back to you, which you helped the company create some great tech. But the question is, in your opinion or not really your opinion because you got experience and data to back this thing up. So let’s go to there, how tech-savvy these folks are?
Okay. So I think one of the things that I do love about working together with Jamal’s team, but really about working inside of our culture here at Avid is we are very innovation oriented. And when you think about these suppliers, right, you think about the ecosystem that they’re operating in today. The vast majority of those suppliers are domestic, small and midsize businesses.
They’re just the longest or the largest number, the fastest growing index inside of our industry, inside of our country right now. They’re are super important base. They’re nurturing they’re nurturing our businesses, our mid-sized businesses and larger, more enterprise suppliers. They’ve had technology capabilities for a long time. But what we’re seeing inside over the last five, seven years is that these small startups, small businesses and even the smaller, modern and mid-level businesses are waking up and coming into the market with access to tools and technology at their ready.
You’re watching accounting systems coming to the market become freely available to them. All of the tools that they use today are all available on compatible mobile devices. You’re seeing real time payments and banking capabilities that are offering immediate initiation of receipt of invoice, immediate initiation of receipt of payment, transparency to what’s going on. And so, when we think about our partnership with suppliers, the relationships we’re building through Jamal’s teams and our other groups are critical as we deeply understand how they’re becoming accustomed to using business.
And we put tools in their hands that will support them doing the jobs they need to do and not have to worry about where these transactions are in flight. And that’s what we’ve got to stay ahead of.
Is just making sure that they get paid. Yeah, right. Paid accurately. There’s a lot of tech out there for the suppliers to help them. And we’re right. We’re building some. By the way, in just a little while, I want to talk about, you know, a new piece of technology that we have coming out or it is out. You’ll give me that scoop lay of the land on that one.
But with all of that, it seems like someone could get confused pretty easily. Yeah. And so what are you seeing around that?
So you’re just talking about like in the confusion of like all the different tools that they could be using or just where I mean, just the nature of they’re doing their best.
I know just personally when people are presented with innovative ideas and they’re presented with an innovative, a lot of innovative ideas. Their knee jerk reaction is to do absolutely nothing.
Oh, absolutely. They’ll become they’ll become frozen. So, the trick in this is when you’re designing your products and tools, we are partnering together closely with our product design teams and customer teams. It’s not just about designing the tool itself. It’s not enough to design the table or the door.
But you but you think about how you orient this tool in such a way that it becomes natural for someone to feel very at home and like what they are trying to do is intuitive. And what I do is whenever I’m talking to, you know, our teammates and our businesses about how we shift and who we’re thinking about, I go, remember that you are working with a small business owner that went to a QuickBooks website or some other website, right?
I’ll just pick any generic website. They went to any generic website, and they decided they wanted to try something out and they clicked. And just in the first 30 or 45 seconds, they knew exactly how to navigate the situation, the room, and the arena. They knew what they were looking for. I’m familiar with that transaction, familiar with that customer name.
I’ve seen them before. I knew they were using Avid. Oh, I knew I adopted an electronic payment method. So here it is. And I got a notification that told me my payment was on the way. And look, I can see the status is lined up with that. Exactly. It should feel like an intuitive experience whether you’re accessing that experience on a mobile device or on a desktop of dice, or if you’re talking to one of our teammates and agents, the information you’re getting in that moment needs to be the exact same as what you would see online.
So, Becky, one thing that I want to point out that I think that’s important, if we go back three years almost to the day, a lot of our suppliers were forced into this electronic environment, and they were presented with a lot of tools and tech that they quite honestly never had to deal with before. Right. But they were in a situation where they didn’t have access to get a paper check.
It was in a lockbox or it was somewhere else. And that building was locked and they were forced into a situation where they had to adapt to an electronic payment. And that’s why when it comes to customer facing supply or base people, it’s so important to slow down and take your time and explain to them what they’re looking at.
Because, Chris, you said when you get overwhelmed, you don’t do anything. But in this situation, their business had to move forward. They had to continue to pay. So it’s so important that we understand on our end, as AvidXchange, that when we are creating products and tools and tech, that has to be intuitive for someone to kind of understand what they’re looking at.
What you explained was great for me to see, but you have to put yourself in the mindset of a supplier who was getting a paper check and that was fine with it. Then all of a sudden the mail wasn’t coming in. The place where they went to get their check they couldn’t get access to. It was physically locked for weeks and months.
And so their only avenue was to get this electronic payment and we needed to make sure that we had our house in order to get them the payment quickly, safely and securely and in a way that they could understand and they would be able to continue their business.
Yeah, and I think like this is such a powerful point because I feel like I know that our teams have both really had to learn how to work together with a customer base that the, the components and the problems that we’re solving or the receivables portion of their job, they are necessary aspects of their job, but that is not their business.
Right. Like their business is a multitude of millions of other things, whether it’s hardware stores or landscaping or whether it’s general contracting, whatever the nature of their business is, that was their passion. And somewhere along, having to have a business, they have to manage their accounts receivables, they have to make sure they know where their cash flow is coming.
Right? And there’s a couple of users in there and then they get introduced into the ability. So the sense activity of understanding the position we’re starting from when we initiate those relationships is critical. And we think about that and we integrate that in the details of how we build our designs.
Because if you’re a janitorial company, like, like Becky said, you’re not thinking about accounts receivable. You want to go out to your next job, but we have to make it easy enough for them so you can get your cash flow and so you can keep your business running.
So, Jamal, to that point, the conversations that you and your team are having, what’s the what’s like maybe the top one or two things that people consistently are confused about or maybe nervous about or scared of?
Well, some of those top questions you were getting, Jamal.
So it was mainly about losing control over where things were in the process. If someone was getting a check, they knew that a check would be coming in the mail seven or ten days. They felt they had kind of agency over that. And then when they go into the electronic world, it’s like, where is everything? I don’t know how to work this.
I don’t know what my log in is for this. I’m unsure of where my money is. I can’t just go and get it right now. So those were a lot of the things that we were getting from suppliers where they just felt like they didn’t have control.
Right. I mean, when you’re out of control with your cash, it’s not a good spot to be.
It’s not a good spot to be. And especially if you are the smaller mid-sized business and you’re not that, you know, it’s more of a sensitive subject when you’re used to doing it one way, but you now you need you know, you need to make the shift into something else. And you just need one or two more tools and able to be able to see it, be able to kind of touch and feel like you did before with the paper check.
What do you want to do? The big announcement.
You. AvidXchange is very excited to be announcing brand new avid Pay Network for supplier, supplier, portal and self-service digital capabilities that we’re going to be rolling out across our supplier base. We have already started with some early beta customers. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but someone will tell me if I’m not.
But we’ve already got a pretty significant we have a couple of thousand suppliers already utilizing the tools in this whole set. Phenomenal. They love it. It’s easy. It’s easy to understand.
Just in plain good old English. Plain good old. What’s the benefit?
Good old English? Let me ask you this, Chris, who handles the finances in your house, in your home?
14:45:13 – 14:47:09
You shouldn’t even ask that.
14:49:12 – 15:11
No, I, I yeah, I saw that one coming. And when she needs to go ahead and handle her, suffer. When you have a question about how much is in the bank. Right. Or maybe something fun you want to do this weekend, what’s the first thing she does?
Okay, so normal consumers, right? If we wanted to find out what was happening with our money, maybe a big, big sale. Big something you want to buy this weekend. Anything you want to do.
I am getting ready to buy something.
Are you going to talk about it? We can talk about that next for sure, right. The first thing we do is we pull out our mobile devices, right. And we log in. And what can you do for when you log in, come out normal bank apps. What are all the things that you can see?
Can see your balance.
You can see your balance.
See the last direct deposit you will see.
You can see your last payment.
I can see the last five things my wife ordered on Amazon that haven’t been delivered yet.
Yeah, controllers can see that too. Yeah, they can see all the things, all the money that was flowing in are flowing to them. All the invoices that was flowing out. And actually our system is sophisticated enough that on the backend inside of those transactions will actually match the invoices to the payments for them so they can see those capabilities they offer, they can set up their notifications so you can be notified if you have money on the way.
Maybe some people like that, right? Or if you wanted to have other family members. Well, and that use case analogy was family members. But if you wanted to have other employees come in and get to see all those tools and set up their notifications and be able to navigate how they’re working together with their buyer customers, they can do that, too.
That’s amazing. So from what I hear you saying is that we took all of those great things in consumer banking and applied it.
Yeah, I mean, that small business banking, right. And it’s small business financial management and we brought it in to AvidXchange. So any supplier who has buyers and transactions flowing across our network, by the way, let’s be really clear about this. It also doesn’t matter which AvidXchange on like a that the structure is built in such a way that they can have customers using a variety of our front end invoicing products and they will all be able to see it in one place.
And it gives them that control back that I talked about before. You can see your invoices, you can see the statuses, you can go in and make decisions about specific invoices without having to make decisions about all invoices. It really gives them that control back or gives them that control for the first time, not even back for the first time.
For them to make important decisions about their cash flow.
17:27:19 – 17:36:12
What’s your reaction to maybe helping somebody adopt this new technology?
First off, it doesn’t cost you anything.
So my team and the other teams in my area, we are walking our suppliers through this process, sending them the invite and helping them get signed up and adopt. So I’d say 80% of the suppliers that are on it right now, maybe 75%, have had one of our teammates show them the portal, show them how to get it working.
So it’s a tool that is pretty intuitive, but even things that are really intuitive for me, I’d like somebody just to kind of get me in the door, kind of walk me down the hall, then I’ll take it from there. So the early returns from the suppliers, like Becky said, is very positive.
I’ll share another customer story that we actually had over the last couple of weeks. We had a situation where and just really empathize. We had a controller who sits at a really corporate location, but their businesses are really smaller, localized businesses. He has 19 different locations, all doing businesses across a multitude of buyer, our buyer customers using us for invoicing and payment execution.
And so we went ahead and we got him signed up and he was able to log in. We were able to make sure he had that that connection to all of his locations. It’s a first time he can see all of the invoice activity and the payment activity going on for all 19 of those locations across all of our network customers.
For his business, super powerful.
Yeah. What was his reaction he remember?
Thrilled. Yeah, thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. Like I know what I’m doing. I can export this data. I know exactly where I can look it up. I can see what’s on track. I can see what’s coming in for this one location over here. I know exactly what’s happening with their invoice.
Thrilled because Jamal, this is not a 1 to 1 relationship, not a buyer to supplier, buyer to supplier. That was one thing that you alluded to, Becky, is that this controller now can see against all of the buyers that, yeah, yeah.
So when he’s all the data right at their fingertips.
Right. One of the things having again having spent 20 years inside the payments business myself and 14 avid when I when we were looking across the horizon, some of the challenges that suppliers are facing inside the market today, the vast majority of other type portal capabilities are 1 to 1, which means that suppliers were being required to create a new login, a new password, a new set of users for each unique buyer they might have been using inside of that particular network.
And that was their number one pain point. And the second pain point is the transparency to be able to see all their transactions in one place, you know, so you take and you listen to those customer constraints and you’re like, man, it’s 2023. We don’t do this anymore. And so you really start to step back and go, No, suppliers like you are business, you’re beautiful business.
We deeply appreciate you. You are valued customers for us and we want to build an experience for you that makes sense for you doing your business. And then we want to add value to it as we go along.
I think that’s one of the biggest things that people don’t understand about AvidXchange is that we consider the supplier customer. That’s right, absolutely. And then is that Jamal? Is that hard for to convince people of that? Because suppliers for the longest time.
It’s not the norm. Right. It’s not the way they’re treated anywhere else in the marketplace or any of their other business lines. So when we are telling them that we are going to create a comprehensive solution that will allow them to see multiple locations, multiple addresses, multiple payments, they don’t I don’t want to say they don’t believe us, but it’s almost too good to be true.
That’s my point. And how do you get over that? What do you tell people?
So the biggest part to get over people, to get them over is to show them the actual portal, to show them, you know, we can have them log in and see if they can accept the invite and we can show them and walk them through it. And the first thing they’re going to do when they open up, they’re going to go, Oh, this is wow.
And they in they really like it. So it’s in beta, it’s small right now. So we’re learning the best way to get across to all of our suppliers. But really having someone see it, I can explain it to you all day. Right? Becky knows it, you know, from the inside out because she built it from the ground up.
But really getting across it, it’s a positive experience for AvidXchange. We’re going to streamline everything to where you can pick up a mobile device or a desktop device and see everything going on with all your payments and invoices. It’s really about just having an honest conversation, telling them what they’re going to do and then telling them how it’s understanding what they’re doing today and saying This is what it can look like for you tomorrow.
That’s the best way to get it through to the supplier.
I would just add to that is for me, when we step back and we look at how other network organizations operate in the marketplace, you hit the nail on the head. This is AvidXchange demonstrating not just by what we say, but through investment of engineering resources, investments of our of our front-end relationship management teams, investment inside of our operations.
It wasn’t like Becky built it like our community should know AvidXchange places like their wallet, where, where it’s meaningful. They are betting on suppliers. We are investing to build tools specifically designed for them because we mean it when we say you’re important to us.
So this is going to be a little bit of a pivot. What we’ve talked your whole world, the supplier, and I’m going to ask you the same thing in your whole world spa. Why should a buyer care about this?
So a buyer should care about this because we are trying to strengthen the relationship between the buyer and the supplier. If the supplier knows that they are going to get paid quicker, faster, more secure. I keep saying that like it’s a tagline line or something, but we’re trying to strengthen that relationship so the buyer knows that the buyer should care because the supplier is going to be happy.
We’re trying to encourage the supplier to continue to do business with that buyer, do more business with that buyer. If the buyer is estranged or escalated, then that’s going to strain that relationship by using the tools and tech that we have is going to ensure that the supplier knows I’m going to go out and do work for the buyer.
I’m going to get paid. The supplier knows the relationship is good.
Buyers have to be able to trust that AvidXchange adds value right to that relationship. When you think about our buyers, like whether buyers are suppliers, right? One of them, they’re customers of each other. But their relationships more often than not start well before they’ve entered into AvidXchange, really helping to facilitate that and orchestrate the transactions in the middle.
So when we come into the center, we have to be a value added for both customers. And from a buyers perspective, those buyers are customers of these suppliers. They’ve built long term relationships, they’ve built faith, they’ve built healthy terms, they’ve built growing businesses. They’ve put their trust in each other. They these buyers put trust in the suppliers to do good work and workmanship.
And these suppliers have put faith in the buyers to go and pay them on time and help feel their business and said These relationships are important to both of these parties. And we come in knowing that and respecting that and seeing ourselves as always wanting to be a complement to that relationship and the health it should be a one plus one equals three.
Right. And that’s our role, how we see our responsibility coming into the intersection of those.
It’s like we’re stretching our hands out. We’re grabbing the buyer’s hand, we’re grabbing the supplier hand and we’re pulling them.
When they get together? Do we sing We are the world? Okay. All right, Jamal, last question. It’sit’s kind of a two-parter. What do you think the future looks like for suppliers and AvidXchange? And maybe what have we not talked about that you wanted to talk about?
I think the future of suppliers, that AvidXchange is only going to get better as we create more things to make suppliers lives easier, they’re going to be able to get more connective tissue to Avid. So as we put more buyers on to the network, we want to be able to have the confidence to tell those buyers. These are the four or five things every single one of your suppliers should expect.
This is how we’re going to take care of them. This is how we’re going to help accentuate that relationship. And then we talk to the suppliers. We want to tell them we’re looking at you, we’re trying to help you get better, continue to talk to us. And we’re going to build things specifically for you to help your business continue to grow.
And we want all to hear with that.
There you go.
I love it.
But Becky, same question. What’s the future look like? And then what have you not talked about that you want?
Man, I think the future is innovation. It’s innovation. And there are so many beautiful and very cool technology and tools that that are continuing to come out to bring more intuition in business decision making and forecasting and helping our customers make like make better plans, build better strategies and grow their businesses, our suppliers just growing and really innovative ways.
So I just I think the future is innovation. I love it. I see all the new cool tech that’s starting to come out and it seems to only be coming out in faster droves. And I just think it’s fantastic. And what we have not talked about is if you’ve listened to not just our last one, but maybe our last two earnings calls, what we haven’t talked about is invoice, accelerator.
And what we haven’t talked about is what happens when a buyer needs to hold on to their cash, but a supplier has a fantastic opportunity and needs it sooner. Maybe something for a future session.
That sounds like a tease.
Yes, that’s a cliffhanger.
One thing. All right. Well, I guess we have to have Becky on the show again. There we go. All right, Jamal Harvey, Becky Hughes, thanks so much for coming in.
Yes, thank you.
Thanks for listening to the “Net 30” podcast presented by AvidXchange. This episode was produced by Travis Durkee. If you like what you heard, make sure you leave us a five-star review and subscribe to this channel.
One more shameless plug before we go. If this conversation has somehow piqued your interest in accounts payable automation, electronic payments or supplier services from AvidXchange, there’s an additional link to request a demo of our solution.
That’s it. We’ll see you next month on the “Net 30” podcast.