The Perfect Brew: 1degreeC’s e-invoicing journey

By Job Eloja

Whether you prefer old-school kopi or creamy frappés, coffee forms an irreplaceable part of most people’s morning (and even afternoon!) routines. In fact, about 62 percent of Singaporeans drink coffee on a regular basis. As employees continue to work from home, many are now turning to specialty coffee producers to have their daily dose of caffeine delivered.

With this surge in demand, it’s important for operations to run as smooth as a good cup of joe. When it comes to invoicing, however, coffee shops and other businesses often encounter several struggles. For one, traditional bookkeeping is just plain inconvenient. Paper invoices can get lost or damaged, often leading to delayed payments. While email invoices can be sent, billing errors can still arise from manual data entry. 

As a means to help businesses overcome their bookkeeping woes, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) rolled out the nationwide e-invoicing network in 2019. Currently known as InvoiceNow Network, the network facilitates the electronic generation of invoices in a standardised digital format. These e-invoices are then directly transmitted to the recipient’s financial system—no paper or manual data entry required!

To make e-invoicing even more seamless, IMDA has partnered with major banks like DBS, OCBC, and UOB to link InvoiceNow solutions with the PayNow e-payment system. At the start of the year, there were only 1,000 companies using InvoiceNow. This number has since risen to about 25,000 and includes homegrown specialty coffee producer 1degreeC

Cool beans for a warm country

Founded by “elderpreneurs” Mr Richard Koh and his wife Madame Ong Bee Yan in 2016, 1degreeC is a local coffee start-up that specialises in handcrafted designer brews. Its distinctive name was inspired by the unique geographical location of Singapore, as well as the company’s flagship product: cold brew coffee. “Singapore is 1° north of the equator, while the C stands for cold coffee company,” explained Mr Koh.

Traditionally, coffee is made by pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a filter. This produces a full-bodied drink with a hint of bitterness and acidity—just the way some people like it! In contrast, 1degreeC relies on the cold brew method. Mr Koh explained, “The freshly roasted coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for over 16 hours. This process produces a smoother, sweeter and less acidic coffee brew.”

1degreeC’s current product offerings include five types of cold brew coffee. Their signature white cold brew coffee is described as creamy, with a velvety texture and a lingering nutty aftertaste. But the company also offers two exclusive flavours: almond milk and masala. “No other cafés offer these drinks,” said Mr Koh.

Though coffee is a popular drink, tea is actually the most consumed beverage in the world after water. To cater to tea connoisseurs, 1degreeC added four cold teas that use fresh herbs and organic ingredients to their product line. The new flavours include the vibrantly-coloured blue pea as well as refreshing basil and mint.

Giving InvoiceNow a shot

Since 1degreeC’s founding, they’ve amassed some notable customers, such as multinational companies HP and Procter & Gamble as well as corporate pantries at Changi Airport. “I used to generate invoices using Microsoft Word and emailed them to my customers,” explained Mr Koh. But with around 14 invoices to deal with per month and multiple bulk orders, the paperwork and errors often piled up. 

While 14 invoices may seem small to some, it can be overwhelming for start-ups like 1degreeC that have only two to three full-time staff. Properly filling out a single invoice requires a keen attention to detail, taking up several hours just to get the papers in order. Without even considering the time spent chasing for late payments, processing 14 invoices takes up at least three to four days of productivity.

To resolve these issues, the company decided to adopt InvoiceNow. “With this, I hope to reduce paperwork and errors. Also, I can spend less time on paperwork and have more time for productive work.”

With e-invoicing, Mr Koh can now focus more on growing 1degreeC and delivering quality brews to his loyal customers.

Mr Koh chose SESAMi, a Singapore-based e-commerce service provider, for 1degreeC’s e-invoicing needs.  “Learning how to e-invoice has not been easy for me as I am technologically-challenged,” he admitted. But in light of e-invoicing’s many benefits, Mr Koh is still looking forward to mastering the platform and fully blending InvoiceNow into 1degreeC’s operations. In fact, he’s even hoping to influence his contacts. “My business partners would be the easiest to convert into e-invoicing,” said Mr Koh.

It’s not just start-ups like 1degreeC that can take advantage of e-invoicing. Any business can adopt InvoiceNow and reap the benefits of going digital. Take advantage of the IMDA’s E-invoicing Registration Grant, which provides businesses with a $200 one-time payout upon first registration to InvoiceNow. Sign up on or before 31 December 2020 to get the grant!

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