80% of all invoices digital within one year

Largest online department store in the Netherlands

With 1.6 million customers and more than 100 million website visitors each year, Wehkamp.nl is the market leader in online shopping and the largest online department store in the Netherlands. Its product range consists of over 100,000 different articles and the company employs more than 700 employees. Over 5 million packages are delivered each year from two distribution centres.

If there's one retail organisation that is miles ahead in the digital revolution, then it's wehkamp.nl. This former mail order company, which was synonymous with the thick paper catalogue, has transformed itself into the largest online retailer in the Netherlands. The catalogue made way for a website and wehkamp.nl continues to reduce its need for paper: The paper invoice is now threatened with extinction.

"It has all happened very fast," says Gert-Jan Wunderink. He is managing director of Lacent, the company that looks after the invoicing of over 5 million orders each year for wehkamp.nl. "Aproximately five years ago, about half of wehkamp.nl orders were placed via the website. The other half were ordered by phone. Today, 98% of all orders are online orders. Wehkamp.nl offers its customers a whole range of payment methods. You choose how you want to pay: directly when ordering via iDEAL, via a bank transfer or in instalments via an account. We also want to digitalise our invoicing as much as possible."

Paying has never been so easy

In order to achieve this, Lacent took the first steps towards switching from paper bank transfer to digital invoices 18 months ago. AddComm's DigiAccept was assigned an important role in this process. AddComm also looks after all of Lacent's paper invoicing. With DigiAccept the customer receives a digital bank transfer via e-mail with a direct link to iDEAL. "This switchover is the biggest step for wehkamp.nl customers," according to Gert-Jan Wunderink. "A DigiAccept in the mail takes a little getting used to. But the benefits are enormous: paying has never been so easy."

Manageable migration thanks to phasing

An important condition was that the digitalisation process would run smoothly. "We took our time with this migration. We fine-tuned the process to each other's needs so we would be able to exchange the information without any problems. Of course, we first examined all our own processes before making them compatible with DigiAccept. We also gave careful consideration to design so the paper and the digital invoices would look the same. We went through the process in a phased manner. We didn't implement the switch for everyone at the same time, but spread it out over 15 manageable batches. It may have taken more time, but it all turned out to be very successful in the end."

The target is 98% digitalisation

The result of the digitalisation is impressive: "In the space of one year we have been able to switch 80% of wehkamp.nl customers from paper invoices to digital ones. That's quite an achievement, but we're not finished yet. Our target is 98% digitalisation. We will now concentrate on the 20% of customers whose e-mail address we do not have. After all, the entire process depends on having properly working e-mail addresses on file. This can be acchieved by carrying out a smart check when customers are on the website and also by checking the address with third parties. This helps eradicate errors. We also have to educate the customers to a certain extent and convince them of the importance and the benefits of providing us with their e-mail address. There will always be some people who simply refuse to ever order online. And, of course, wehkamp.nl will continue to meet their needs as well. We won't be abolishing the invoices with bank transfers completely," says Wunderink.

50% reduction in printing and delivery costs

Digital invoicing is already resulting in huge savings for wehkamp.nl. Wunderink: "Postage costs have been reduced by half in the past 12 months. The printing and paper costs decreased by more than 50%. On the other hand, payment via e-mail is lagging a little behind the paper invoice. An actual paper invoice simply makes more of an impression than an e-mail. And that's why we intend to work with AddComm on exploring the digital possibilities even further. Possibilities like sending an automatic text message when the e-mail is not received, for example. We will continue to use the paper option, especially in cases of overdue payment. Paper or digital: we are now in the position where we can use the option that best suits the situation."