I’ve written before about billFLO, a service that enables users to send and receive machine readable invoices straight into their accounting system.

They’re announcing this morning a deal which is a great case study to show the value that connected business services can bring to SMBs. It’s a subject I’ve passionately been discussing with a bunch of SaaS vendors, mainly herded by the ever thoughtful Sunir Shah, Chief Handshaker from FreshBooks. I take the position that, for example, OAuth is a fantastic tool, but extending that sort of service across data, provisioning, billing and identity is the holy grail. Anyway – more on that in another post.

The announcement from billFLO this morning is about a link up between themselves and Do it Best stores. Do it Best is a Co-op of 4,100 Hardware stores in the US (and some international). The hardware stores are independently owned and most are small “mom and pops”.

While Do it Best has EDI capability, they found that many of the smaller stores don’t have the ability to digest the EDI invoices that headquarters could send to them. They partnered with billFLO to enable the small stores to be able to receive billFLO invoices to replace the hundreds of paper invoices stores receive each month.

The stores are already seeing some benefits. Matt Rogers, owner of Do-it-Best’s Papenhausen Hardware store says that:

billFLO functionality has freed up so much time for us. The bookkeeping takes just a few minutes as all the invoices are imported instantly into our accounting system and because everything is now electronic, we don’t need to move pieces of paper around. The store manager reviews the electronic invoices at the store, while the accounting is done at the office

billFLO has several pricing plans but for the average Do it Best store with large numbers of invoices, $50 per month gives them billFLO with no limits on invoice numbers.

More than a story of one vendors success selling through a large company, it’s a indication of the value of connected software – I’m looking forward to that being the norm, rather than the exception – that’ll sure be on exciting day!

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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