Digitizing Your E-commerce Business - Why You Should Go Paperless
The world is going through hard times. During times like this, we begin to realize that the future of the ecosystem we live in is strictly connected to our everyday habits. The sooner we understand that the quality of our lives depends on our behaviors, the bigger chance we will have a brighter future.
As the digital age takes over almost every aspect of our lives, we’ve slowly gotten accustomed to hearing the phrase “going paperless”. Many businesses, e-commerces in particular have become more aware of the perks of transitioning operations to paperless options in this digital realm.
Even if you don’t consider yourself or your e-commerce business environmentally conscious and tend to stay inattentive to the aggravating environmental impacts we cause, going paperless still holds many benefits for your business.
Cost of paper for your business
Going paperless will save you a lot of money. According to Informit, a typical US worker uses more than 10,000 sheets of paper per year which equals roughly two cases of paper per employee. That means you are spending around $40 for a case of standard copy paper, and a typical worker goes through two of those. That means you spend $80 on copy paper, just for a single employee.
That doesn’t stop there, either. The cost of using paper is not just about the price tag on the copy paper. There are some invisible costs, and they are much higher than you think. Filing of the report, looking for the missing documents, re-creation of documents, these are all labor costs. According to a study done by Deloitte & Touche in the 1990s, a typical US manager spends an average of three hours a week searching for a paper that’s been lost, mislabeled, or misfiled. Yes, we are not in the early 90s anymore, but this study just gives an insight into the invisible labor costs of using paper.
Environmental effects of using paper
When you digitize your business, not only you’ll cut costs and manage your time more efficiently, you’ll also be doing your home, mother earth a favor. Could you find a better deal than that?
Have you ever heard of The World Counts? If not, go ahead and check what mass paper production does to our planet. 420,000,000 tons production of paper and cardboard, which means two pieces of paper for every single person on Earth, every single hour.
The forests are cut down or burned to produce paper, and producing paper requires tremendous amounts of energy and water. Paper also accounts for %25 of total waste at landfills.
Save space around the office
Filing cabinets are expensive, they take too much space and they are not convenient compared to digital solutions. It’s estimated that the offices still use around 50-70% percent of their office space for filing. Most of the time, you won’t need to access the majority of the documents that are stored in the cabinet. Even though keeping records and data is extremely important, wasting half of your space by having huge filing cabinets isn’t the way to do it.
Imagine all the free space you’ll have when you get rid of the file cabinets. It’ll definitely make the space less cluttered, you can even put a few plants that could make your office look more like a ‘home’.
How going paperless can help your e-commerce business
Going paperless is an exciting process but saving the environment is not the only motive for a business to transform into a paperless office.
When it comes to changing the way you work, revolutionizing your business, getting rid of your daily office habits, and implementing new technologies may sound a little too much to handle at first. Beyond dispute, it is overwhelming to switch to new technologies and learn new methods to operate your business. Businesses often have a tendency to think a complete transformation like going paperless will slow down their process or even cause money loss. After all, we’ve always relied on paper, either because we think it is the only convenient way to run a business, or we were too lazy to make the switch.
If we have to point fingers at one industry that has taken the lead in wasting paper, it would be e-commerce. Billions of online purchases made each year. According to a report published on Fast Company, last year Amazon shipped more than 5 billion packages and this number only includes its Prime users. The same report indicates that 165 billion packages are shipped each year in the US only. An educated guess calculates this number as equal to more than 1 billion trees.
With the dramatic increase in online shopping especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, packaging waste caused by e-commerce businesses is turning into a massive problem.
The good news is, in the past decade, lots of businesses have started to realize the impact of their operations on the environment and how much difference they can make by reducing their paper volume. While it was not just an act of kindness towards nature, ditching paper receipts made a huge difference both for the environment and for their own wallet.
Paper receipts and packaging are not the only aspects that waste paper. Let’s look at other office habits that run on paper.
- Shipping forms
- Invoice forms
- Inventory forms
- Employee Timesheets and files
All these processes have digital alternatives that you can use to eliminate your paper consumption while successfully running your business. A recent study by Cisco suggests that e-commerce retailers that adopt technologies such as digital and interactive signatures, and paperless invoices, can improve their profitability by over 15%.
Though most businesses are still using paper contracts while making business deals, electronic signatures have started to become more popular. When you think about the time and effort you spent while dealing with paper contracts, you will realize it is too much work, to begin with. You receive the document, print it, sign it, and scan it to send it back. In such cases, there is no reason to allocate too much of your time when electronic signatures can replace written signatures. Before you get started with signing business contracts electronically, you should get accustomed to how to sign a pdf document.
There are lots of software that can help you transform your paperwork into digital documents whether it’s for signing contracts or for working on your everyday workload. Using these systems, you can manage your employee files and timesheets as well as documenting shipping and inventory data easily.
Using paperless forms can end the hassle to create paper inventory and shipping documents and eliminate the time spent on printing them out and mailing.
A Final Word
Here, we discussed only a few reasons why it makes sense to reduce the amount of paper used in your business, and more importantly, provide ways you can implement digital solutions into your operations right away to get your transition started.
Making the decision to go paperless is all about streamlining your business more efficiently. It’s about minimizing the amount of time you and your employees spend on inventory checklists, sort through filing cabinets, search for lost documents, manage invoices and bills, and work on scheduling. And spending all that time and work to further your business.
By going paperless not only you’ll be saving money, eliminating unnecessary waste, and keeping up with digital-savvy customer demands, but also you’ll be bringing your business in line with the times and discovering what can be gained through new technologies. Especially if you are in e-commerce, you have already expanded your business to online customers, and all you have to do now is make the necessary changes backstage.
There are so many solutions you can take advantage of to make the transition to a paperless office much easier, you just need to be willing to accept the change.
Eralp O. Arslan is interested in literature, cinema, music, and technology. He is a digital marketing specialist at JotForm.