We are currently living in a world where we see constant change. Today, new technologies emerge at a fast pace to free up our time so we can spend time on things that really count.

However, such changes usually do not occur within the snap of a finger; they are actually a slow change from one reality to another over a painfully long time.

For example, there is a move towards eReceipts around the world, but the pick-up rate seems to be rather slow.

Zooming in on data extraction benefits

For this reason, we wish to highlight why we believe that analyzing and processing paper receipts adds value to companies if this is done in an efficient way.

First, let’s establish what information we can retrieve from old-fashioned paper receipts. Then, we will list down what the key benefits of data extraction are:

  • Relevant tax information
  • Breakdown of items bought
  • Metadata of the purchase

Relevant Tax Information

Around the world, quite a few jurisdictions have taxes in place that depend on sales such as Sales Tax, Good and Services Tax or Value Add Tax. Very often, companies are eligible to claim some of the taxes paid if they fulfill certain conditions.

These conditions are the ability to provide information about what items were procured from whom and for what purpose.

Considering this process is generally automated or optimized for larger trade-related expenses, it turns out to be rather inefficient for daily expenses.

Breakdown of Items Bought

Whereas electronic credit card confirmations contain the amount spent, they do not include any breakdown of the actual items bought.

For example, if a company wants to analyze what was bought, they require a more in-depth look into the receipts.

Data about items purchased can be applied to a range of use cases. Some examples here include ensuring that company expense policies are complied with and enabling market research firms to gather data and track consumer spending patterns.  

Metadata of the Purchase

You can gain additional insights when looking at the not-so-obvious details of a receipt. These can be a payment time at a restaurant, the distance travelled in a taxi or the postal code of a shop.

It’s important to keep in mind that some specific information is relevant for expense policy implementation, whereas all of them are relevant for market research.

So what are the use cases?

We can broadly break down the use cases in three areas:

•Processing expenses

•Audit and compliance

•Market research

Processing Expenses

When managing and booking expenses, the information from paper receipts has to be captured digitally.

By automatically extracting all relevant information and feeding it into a structured process, expense management can be automated to a new level, gaining you benefits from data extraction.

This way, companies can be assured that the relevant information is available for auditors and can be conveniently found with a quick search.

At the same time, having all the data available from receipts also helps to enforce company expense policies.

In this case, rules such as no alcoholic beverages on business trips or taxi claims only after 8pm can be monitored easily.

Audit and Compliance

If your organization already has a digital repository of receipts, existing transactions can be audited digitally to ensure the stored images comply with the regulations in place.

For example, when your business files for the tax refund, you can check relevant receipts to ensure they contain all relevant data like tax amount and tax number.

If there is a purchase for which your company hasn’t claimed tax, you can highlight it in order not to lose out on the possible claims.

Market Research

In the case of loyalty programs, the information from receipts can be used to establish shoppers’ patterns and gain insights into their behaviour.

The information analyzed ranges from the correlation between items frequently bought together to shopping behaviour at a certain time to buying frequency across multiple outlets.

The possibilities for market research are vast, but you need to pair them with loyalty programs in order to incentivize customers to provide data by submitting shopping receipts.

Data Extraction – Takeaway

In conclusion, we know expense management is changing fast and the productivity tools related to it are long-term investments.

These are offering sustainable ways to leverage data, enforce policies and claim tax refunds that would otherwise be missed out.

As executives or CFOs of sales departments, it’s important to work closely with technology that brings our organization to the next level.

Posted by:Rene Hess

Inventor and Co-Founder @ Innovo42. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn