New Look profits from scanning and e-invoicing

Major high street retailer, New Look, is using a new universal trading and document imaging solution that allows it to electronically exchange documents with its trading partners and suppliers.  The system enables New Look to fully automate its document processing and will deliver immediate cost savings and improved efficiency.

The solution has been developed by P2D, a business services company that specialises in document systems that turn paper to data.  Using a KODAK i160 scanner as an integral component, P2D offers all the benefits of EDI[1] at a fraction of the normal cost.  Whereas EDI is traditionally the preserve of large corporates and is normally too expensive for small businesses, the P2D solution allows all suppliers to join at no cost to them.

The P2D solution with Kodak scanner provides a more efficient invoice processing system for New Look and its suppliers.  As the company expands, it will mean operational costs associated with the finance function will be minimized and staff freed up to focus on core activities not invoice management and approval.

The solution acts as an electronic exchange for documents such as invoices, orders and balance statements and automates the manual processes with a secure service.  Documents are transmitted directly between New Look and supplier systems removing costly and error prone data entry.  Each transaction is delivered for a fixed transaction cost of 25 pence - less than the cost of the stamp that an invoice printed and posted to the retailer would cost.  Some reports estimate that the variable paper and delivery cost of a traditional invoice is over 1.20.

Since the system went live, 120 suppliers have already agreed to use it, and 300 are expected to be online within the next 6 months, with P2D supporting them to get set up correctly.   

The P2D solution is an electronic hub that receives documents as either data files direct from its suppliers or images from New Looks KODAK i160 scanner. The data is extracted from the images using the latest rules-based Optical and Intelligent Character Recognition technology.
The hub handles all incoming paperwork from a New Look supplier.  This can include a document such as a standard paper invoice or a delivery note that needs to be matched to other documents the system allows all back up documentation to be attached to an invoice so New Look staff can see granular detail.  The invoice is then scanned and sent to the hub which keeps the original paperwork and extracts the data required for the accounting systems in use.  The data is then translated and the original invoice archived for future retrieval and auditing.

Supplier invoices can be accepted in any format such as CSV, XML, Webform or from any one of the typical SME accounting packages including Sage, Quick Books and Pegasus. 

Privately owned with retail space growing 30% last year to total almost 3 million net square feet (some 589 stores), New Look processes approximately 70,000 invoices every year with the majority now received directly into New Looks accounting system from the P2D hub.  Of these, about 20% will still be inputted and processed manually using the Kodak scanner which is located at New Looks offices in Weymouth.  The company has also purchased a 3 year Kodak Service and Support contract to ensure 100% uptime and availability of the scanner. 

Ian Butterworth, New Looks accounts payable finance manager, explains, Handling huge volumes of invoices and processing them efficiently on-time and with the minimum of resources is the Holy Grail for retailers of our size.  The P2D solution gives us the ability to manage this workload very easily and our suppliers will benefit from it as well, without having to put in place an expensive EDI system.  Critical resources will be freed up and working with New Look made far easier than ever before.  What has impressed us more than anything is the solutions flexibility and inherent scalable qualities. It can be expanded to cope with many more suppliers in any country with relative ease which is ideal for our growth plans given we are opening stores in Belgium, France and Middle East.

Robin Colla, P2Ds chief executive adds, We are the first company in the UK to have developed a complete system such as this which is set to deliver substantial cost-savings and efficiencies to New Look and its core suppliers.  It came about after close consideration of New Looks requirements to have a cost-effective and efficient solution that most of its suppliers could use and benefit from.  ROI will be delivered instantly and working with the retailer will now be a quicker and simpler operation.  New Looks suppliers will see invoices processed faster, receive greater up to date information on their invoice payment status which will allow better cash flow management.  We believe such a solution offers an alternative to EDI for businesses for whom it has been cost prohibitive in the past.

One of New Looks suppliers, Bob Tims, general manager at Cambra Styles , said, Joining the network and getting up to speed with the new system was easy, especially as P2D guided us through the process of getting connected.  With up to date processing and payment information online, it self evidently saves time. It has meant we seem to get paid quicker too.

Colla concludes, While the P2D solution will eliminate 80% of paper invoices received there is still a need for the business to scan some invoices in from New Looks smaller suppliers.  The KODAK i160 combined with its Capture Software means scanning is done quickly and accurately first time thereby enhancing accounts staff productivity.

About P2D
P2D is a unique business services company specializing in document solutions that turn paper to data. It was established as a direct consequence of the fast-changing regulations and corporate attitudes towards electronic document management and electronic trading that have taken place with the advent of the 21st century.

The P2D Document Network, a global e-trading hub allows members to freely exchange documents, such as invoices and orders, whether in electronic or paper form. P2Ds philosophy is to provide state-of-the-art document solutions at an affordable price to large, medium, and small-sized companies alike, via its economies of scale.

P2D outperforms the market on both price and performance. Its solutions are flexible and configurable and provide not only the sending and receiving of documents but automation of any associated process that the client may require, from document imaging, approvals workflows and matching, through to full e-procurement. Indeed, for most companies, such change needs to be managed in controlled increments. P2Ds solutions are developed outside clients firewalls, sending data securely and directly into their systems it is outsourced data capture at its most sophisticated. 

About New Look

New Look is the third largest womenswear retailer in the UK and second largest footwear retailer, with an average consumer age of 29. The retailer now has 577 stores in the UK, 10 stores in mainland Europe, and a further 2 franchised shops. Established in 1969 and floated on the UK stock market in 1998, New Look was taken back into private ownership in March 2004.

About Eastman Kodak Company

Kodak is the worlds foremost imaging innovator. With sales of $10.7 billion in 2006, the company is committed to a digitally oriented growth strategy focused on helping people better use meaningful images and information in their life and work. Consumers use Kodaks system of digital and traditional products and services to take, print and share their pictures anytime, anywhere; Businesses effectively communicate with customers worldwide using Kodak solutions for prepress, conventional and digital printing and document imaging; and Creative Professionals rely on Kodak technology to uniquely tell their story through moving or still images.

[1] Electronic Data Interchange

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