Several months ago, we were “invited” by Elum Designs to receive our invoices through a service called Terms on Time. Little did I know that the service was the brainchild of Brad Foster, the Founder and President of Elum Designs. The worthwhile objective of Terms on Time is to improve communication and cash flow between suppliers and retail outlets. Is it succeeding?
According to the smattering of testimonials on their website, Terms on Time is a roaring success. In fact, several of our stationery suppliers like Real Card, Sweet Pea and Meri Meri now use Terms on Time.
While Brad’s brainchild may well be the beginning of an efficient online accounts receivable system, there are a few disturbing features that create great inefficiencies and confusion to end-users: namely, the stationery stores that have been co-opted into this collection mechanism. Specifically, it creates a mind-numbing amount of follow-up emails that are machine-generated that spread confusion rather than create efficiencies. Secondly, control over one’s cash flow has effectively been delegated to your vendor. Thirdly, by its nature it generates a huge amount of useless paper for the end-user.
While the techies in Terms on Time will insist that we are not using the system efficiently (which is true), I will counter that I am not a machine and have no plans on becoming one anytime soon. I have heard from several Guild members that they feel the same and some suppliers now have doubts on the efficacy of the system.
When people introduce “new” technology you should always ask the question: “Who benefits?” In the case of Terms on Time, the entire benefit of the cash flow program lies with the supplier. Is this fair and reasonable or should it be viewed as a win-win for both parties? While I personally see great value for Terms on Time, its founders may best be served by looking for ways to gain wider acceptance by retailers. As far as I can see, there is only one winner with Terms on Time and great disenchantment on the other side of the ledger from those forced to use it.
This is a shame.
Richard W. May
Therese Saint Clair