CloudTrade offers a supplier a number of ways to send an electronic invoice - including XML and EDI invoice submission. By far the easiest and most popular though, is to simply send a PDF e-invoice via email.

Is PDF e-invoicing really e-invoicing?

We often hear the statement (usually from our competitors!) that PDF e-invoicing is not really electronic invoicing. In most cases, this statement is simply not true.

The widely accepted definition of an electronic invoice is that it "should contain data from the supplier in a format that can be entered (integrated) into the buyer’s Account Payable (AP) system without requiring any data input from the buyer’s AP administrator".

When a PDF is ‘application generated’ i.e. produced directly from the billing application raising the invoice (which most are!), in almost all cases it will be a text PDF, with the invoice data items embedded directly within the PDF. The PDF file simply acts as a carrier and a way for people to visualise the content of the PDF. Our patented technology takes advantage of this data layer and maps the invoice data direct from the PDF to an e-invoice structure. In other words, the service is akin to mapping one flavour of XML to another flavour of XML.

Can a supplier send any type of PDF?

The only constraint of the service is that the PDF must be ‘application generated’, i.e. produced directly from an application. Machine generated PDFs almost always carry the raw invoice data within the PDF itself. Our service reads the data direct from the PDF and maps it to an e-invoice structure.

If the PDF is generated by scanning a paper invoice, an image or ‘photo’ of the invoice will be passed in the PDF. Unfortunately the only way to process an image PDF is to use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology – which by its very nature cannot guarantee data quality without an human operator to review. For image files, we offer our Cloud Capture service which takes advantage of the market leading OCR engine to capture the relevant invoice data.

Are Electronic Signatures required?

In most European, North American and Asia Pacific countries, electronic signatures are not requirement of the local tax authorities. In regions where they are not needed we also do not encourage them, as they add cost, time and effort for the supplier (and buyer) and only act as a barrier which impacts supplier adoption. In regions where electronic signatures are a requirement, we support them.

What if the supplier is unable to send a machine generated PDF?

If a supplier is unable to generate a text PDF from their billing application, there are a couple of options:

  1. PDF Driver. There a numerous free to install PDF drivers on the internet, which when downloaded simply allow you to print to PDF in the same was as you would normally print to a printer. Examples include: CutePDF or Bullzip
  2. Other e-document formats supported. Alternatively, we also support other data documents such as: XML, HTML, EDI, .doc, .csv, that can be delivered either via email or via a data transfer protocol such as FTP, HTTP, etc.

Does a supplier have to download any software to use CloudTrade?

No. As long as they can produce an invoice as a text document e.g. PDF, HTML, Word (which most billing applications can) and can send via email, you don't need to install any new software.

Can a supplier send more than one invoice per mail?

Yes. We can support almost all scenarios that a supplier can throw at us, including:

  • One invoice file on one email
  • Multiple invoice files on one email
  • Multiple invoices in the same file
  • Invoices and attachments in the same file
  • Invoice and attachments as separate files

Although PDF files are the most common file type we receive, we support any data file type, incl: HTML, CSV, IDOC, EDI, Word, etc.

More paper removed in a shorter time frame....

We believe that for an e-invoicing project to be successful, it must be easy and non-disruptive for suppliers to use. Only then will suppliers move away from paper and onto electronic invoice submission.

PDF invoicing is the preferred way to invoice for most suppliers. It is easy to use, non-disruptive and out-of-the-box with most accounting applications. Based on experience of on-boarding thousands of suppliers since 2010:

CloudTrade will move more suppliers onto electronic invoicing - thus remove more paper from accounts payable - in a shorter time frame, than any other e-invoicing approach. Guaranteed!

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