The switch to QR invoice and the obstacles
Since June 30, 2020, it is possible to replace the existing ESR (payment slip with reference number) with QR invoices. When is the right time for this change and what hurdles does the changeover to QR invoice entail? Such questions currently occupy many operators of online stores.
The payment method invoice is and remains the most popular payment method of the Swiss. As already reported last year (link to article), four out of five customers opt for this payment method when completing their order (SRF, 2015). Our empirical values in various stores are even higher.
With the harmonization of ISO20022, the Swiss financial center has optimized some processes and financial procedures, or at least laid the foundations for them. Thanks to active support from the Swiss business community and society, the QR invoice is considered an important bridge between the digital and paper-based world. This should further improve and simplify the most popular payment method of the Swiss. Something very good gets even better.
So from a technical point of view, we are ready and want to enjoy the benefits.
But is the average online store user ready for the switch to QR Invoice?
Depending on the industry, marketing, brand, image, design and about 127 other factors, each store has a different average customer.
Of course not. In my opinion, it’s mostly the big companies (telecommunications groups, insurance companies, big players in the B2C sector) that set the trend and define what the average customer in an online store should be like. There are relatively few outliers here. Mind you, we are focusing here on Switzerland and Swiss customers. How much and how quickly these companies are inspired abroad / internationally, is always different – but in the end, every change, no matter how small, is optimized, “Swissized” and thus shapes our average online shopper. Unfortunately, we in Switzerland have not yet received so many international awards for e-commerce innovations – so we like to help ourselves abroad with ideas.
The QR Invoice is a change that only affects Switzerland for the time being. As it looks, either the uncertainty is too great, the “big players” stores do not yet see all the advantages or they are simply not ready.
Why have the “big players” in B2C not yet converted?
The changeover to the QR invoice is proving to be very sluggish in the Swiss online shopping world. Currently, there are still very few companies that already exclusively send QR invoices. Of course, the parallel time QR and ESR still takes a while, but the advantages are obvious.
never change a running system
The fame before the conversion was great, there was a lot written and reported about it. After the introduction, however, there were not really many B2C companies that converted. Is there a lack of trust in the customer or is the respect so great and one does not want to overburden anyone?
We were already asked in 2018 whether QR invoices can be generated with the ESR plugin. Accordingly, we have pushed and prioritized the development. Before launch, we met all ISO20022 requirements. Now we are here almost six months after launch with the QR Invoices plugin ready, but can hardly look back on experience – even new customers want to stay on ESR.
The reason for this is that store operators of small and medium-sized stores want to be innovative, environmentally friendly, and modern, and also want to benefit from the advantages, but are uncertain because so few large companies are leading the way. Unfortunately, it is the same for us. During consultations, we lack the experience to be able to recommend the changeover with a clear conscience.
For invoicing parties
For invoice recipients
Everything takes time – even experience.
Courageous have shown 2 smaller stores, these have converted. Technically, our QR invoices were accepted by the banks, productively 10 – 30 orders are now processed daily. Our plugin does what it is supposed to, however, this is not sufficiently meaningful for us to use the experience of these stores to convince larger stores with up to 1000 orders / day to convert. And this is not because of technical reasons, but because we do not know enough about how the store customers will react to the change.
Currently, we encounter great interest in conversions, however, since we do not yet have great experience values, the conversion is postponed until later – that is, they want to wait for the experiences of others and then convert.
The conversion from a technical point of view
In and of itself, the conversion can be done with a few clicks. Of course, depending on the complexity of the setup, there are one or two further adjustments that need to be made, but this is not worth mentioning. Automations for document generation, automatic invoice sending and dunning run can be taken over 1:1, simply another document is sent or printed.
There are no changes when importing the XML files. The files already handle the ISO20022 standard since 2018 and can be uploaded as usual.
The conversion at the bank / PostFinance is very easy. Existing ESR accounts can be transferred and everything remains the same, nothing changes. Almost all financial institutions accept QR payments to existing ESR accounts without further ado.
The parallel operation between QR and ESR also masters the ESR plugin, when importing as well as when generating the payment slips.
When is now the right time to switch to QR invoice?
We would like to encourage store operators to dare and take this step. We write the year 2021 and must not be afraid of change and digitalization. The sooner store operator and his customer can benefit from the advantages, the more positive signals are set. In this way, acceptance increases generally and quickly.
Before, during and after the changeover, we stand by our customers. With the right preparation, planning and, above all, together, the changeover to QR Invoice is no longer a significant challenge. This applies to both technical and “user experience” aspects.