For years, there has been bit of a battle in the ocean freight industry between the old ways and the news ways of doing business. Particularly, this regards the practice of electronic invoicing, or the lack thereof. Some freight forwarders do this, and others do not. There are numerous advantages for using electronic invoicing in international shipping. Electronic invoicing, also known as e-voicing, is quicker than traditional invoicing and costs less. In addition, there is less risk involved by eliminating the manual entering of information. It is a great way to streamline the process and improve the cash flow for shipping companies. For shippers, this can provide great insight.
The EIPP Standards Advisory Board is an independent organization in the shipping industry. They push the carriers for more efficiency through electronic invoicing and payment. In 2014, the EIPP Standards Advisory Board released new guidelines for improving this payment process. The guidelines ask for the automation of all invoice process, which includes routing, paying and auditing. They want to include electronic credit note processing from an ocean carrier to a shipper. And there are EDI messaging guidelines.
While the ocean freight industry is currently ahead of other industries when it comes to electronic invoicing, there are still ways to go. For shippers, it would be extremely convenient to be able to go from getting an ocean freight quote, to booking the shipment and then handling all of the payments electronically. Hopefully within the next few years, the entire industry will follow a strict standard of electronic invoicing.