Health Food Associates, Inc. Gains Healthier AP Results With Electronic Invoice Handling
Founded in 1935, Health Food Associates, Inc. owns and operates 23 Akin's Natural Foods Market and Chamberlin Natural Foods grocery stores in the United States. Each retailer is dedicated to providing responsibly sourced food and supplements to individuals looking to live healthier lives. This includes a wide selection of organic brands, homeopathic products, beauty aids, treats, and cooking items supported by the insights of trained professional staff.
“We were once one of the very few players in the market,” said Philip Campbell, senior vice president of planning, Health Food Associates. “This all changed with the entry of several large retailers taking advantage of the growing population of people looking to better their lives with healthier food and nutritional choices. However, we’ve maintained our leadership in the markets we serve by offering the greatest range of organic products and supplements as well as the advice of knowledgeable sales personnel.
“In addition, our stores are continuing to grow and evolve with bright, open shopping experiences that invite interaction with our onsite staff. Soothing colors, the breadth of our product line, and knowledge are among our many trademarks.”
Better Handling Of 4,000 Monthly Invoices
In 2017, Health Food Associates decided to further support the efforts of its retail staff by easing the time spent on invoice processing and related procedures. On a monthly basis, the company’s accounting department based at its corporate headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma received an average of 4,000 vendor invoices a month from 16 Akin’s locations. This material was bundled on a near daily basis by each store and sent via mail and UPS for payment.
To streamline the entire operation, the company went online in December 2017 with the DocStar Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution with advanced workflow, reporting, and intelligent data capture capabilities. After an extensive search process, the program was selected primarily for its ability to add visibility to Health Food’s accounting system, eliminate the manual handling of invoices, and streamline the entire pipeline of steps ranging from the preparation of material at each store to the sending of checks to vendors.
DocStar achieves this by storing documents from virtually any input device for centralized storage accessible from widely distributed locations. In addition, DocStar AP Automation was designed to integrate with any ERP or accounting system including Dynamics GP, making it easy to retrieve data, review invoices, and automatically push AP workflow in real-time through the use of any computer, tablet, or smart phone.
Reduced Invoice Transaction Times
According to Campbell, DocStar began with a pilot program that synched the solution with the company’s existing AP system. Once live, DocStar immediately reduced the time spent on invoice transactions, while offering an electronic view of all past and present work in the queue.
“The elimination of paper alone has freed up so much time,” explained Campbell. “In addition to increasing the accuracy of the entire AP process, we now spend more time on audits, which have enabled us to take better advantage of vendor credits and identify double billing errors. Plus, manual mistakes have virtually disappeared since invoices are automatically coded with individual store information.”
Enhanced AP Workflow
Another daily advantage is the ability to distribute the invoicing work between three accounting staff. “With the receipt of so many invoices every month, it was very easy for any one of us to get overwhelmed,” added Danelle Gelino, office and accounting manager, Health Food Associates. “DocStar allowed us to preset invoice information and have each invoice sent directly to a specific accounting person based on specific coding and criteria. We’ve not only decreased errors, but actually reduced the time dispersing checks and sending payments by 25 percent. This allowed us to dedicate ourselves to more value-added activities that have both increased the bottom line and reduced costs”
As for the future, Health Food Associates is working with DocStar to create a platform enabling the direct electronic receipt of vendor invoices. This will include syncing the invoice with each store through the solution.
“We’re looking to radically simplify our entire invoicing system across all 16 Akin’s stores,” further explained Campbell. “Less bookkeeping will equate to better in-store service, which is really at the heart of our success. This is just one more way DocStar is empowering growth in this very tight market.”