Marine Layer is a California casual retail apparel brand with a focus on absurdly soft, high-quality clothing made from custom-developed fabrics. Founded 13 years ago as a small pop-up shop on Chestnut Street in San Francisco, they have grown to 47 brick and mortar locations with over 300 employees. The company has a special commitment to sustainability and keeping textiles out of landfills by using as many recycled materials as they can.
As an innovative company that has developed more than 100 unique fabrics, Marine Layer’s manufacturing and procurement process can be quite complex—and so can their financial operations. Add in the management of nearly four dozen retail locations, it’s no surprise their Finance Accounting team had their hands full.
Paying invoices with manual processes and managing expenses in Excel were not viable options as the company continued to grow and scale. So to streamline financial operations, save time, and more efficiently use their accounting team’s resources, Marine Layer turned to BILL Accounts Payable and BILL Spend and Expense.
The Marine Layer accounting team processes between 200 and 300 invoices on an average week. Most of their invoices are for finished products from vendors, but they also have vendor payments for building rent and utilities like water, trash, and gas.
“With the amount of bills we have, it would be overwhelming and almost impossible to keep up without BILL,” says Kelly Ransom, Financial Accountant at Marine Layer. “Just organizing all those bills, making sure they're paid and approved properly, would be a little bit of a nightmare.”
“With the amount of bills we have, it would be overwhelming and almost impossible to keep up without BILL.”
BILL Accounts Payable enabled the Finance Accounting team to implement a streamlined approval process for invoices that was fast, flexible, and transparent. Thanks to BILL, they save at least a couple hours of work every day.
“If I had to process invoices manually, just trying to cut checks or trying to send out wires every day would probably take up my entire day at least,” says Ransom. “And BILL also really cuts down on any sort of manual errors that might happen if we had to cut checks or do wires every day.”
“BILL really cuts down on any sort of manual errors that might happen if we had to cut checks or do wires every day.”
BILL provides the team with transparency around invoices that makes it easier to collaborate. “BILL makes it really easy to have one source when I have any questions about bills,” says Ransom. “BILL is the central place to go in every week and see all the bills I need to approve and schedule.”
Ransom also appreciates the easy-to-find approval history kept in BILL. If she is out of the office, BILL makes it simple to assign another approver. And the visibility has helped during the company’s annual audit, when auditors ask for copies of all the invoices.
“BILL makes AP flexible, but also creates an audit trail. We need those checks and balances to make sure all the bills have at least two sets of eyes on them.”
“BILL makes AP flexible but also creates an audit trail. We need those checks and balances to make sure all the bills have at least two sets of eyes on them.”
BILL makes routine tasks, like paying recurring rent payments, easier for staff. “Recurring invoices auto-populate in BILL, which makes it easier,” says Ransom. “My team doesn’t have to reenter those 48 plus bills every single month.”
BILL also helps with managing their cash flow. “BILL has a nice homepage that shows all the bills scheduled for the next seven days and 30 days,” says Ransom. “That really helps the accounting team plan ahead.”
“BILL has a nice homepage that shows all the bills scheduled for the next seven days and 30 days. That really helps the accounting team plan ahead.”
Overall, BILL has empowered Marine Layer’s relatively small team to better manage their workload. “BILL has definitely allowed us to keep our team a little bit leaner,” Ransom says.
The integration between BILL and NetSuite has also made life easier for the Finance team. “BILL makes it really easy,” Ransom says. “Our AP person can tag me on any kind of time sensitive payments, or we can chat back and forth about a bill if it needs to be re-coded.”
“We enter all of our bills into NetSuite and BILL and then sync to ensure the information matches,” Ransom continues. “The integration works pretty seamlessly, I would say.”
With hundreds of vendors, Marine Layer needed a way to quickly resolve disputes while maintaining good relationships. BILL gave them the tools they needed. For example, when vendors ask about payments, BILL makes it easy to find and share the payment status.
“We can go into a payment, take a screenshot, show when it's scheduled, when it's been sent, or if it's been deposited into the bank account or cashed,” Ransom says. “BILL provides great visibility for us and also for vendors. We don't have that kind of visibility when we're just sending direct wires.”
“BILL provides great visibility for us and also for vendors. We don't have that kind of visibility when we're just sending direct wires.”
When there is a problem, BILL gives them an extra layer of security—and peace of mind. “If we need to void a check or cancel a wire, BILL makes it really, really easy,” says Ransom. “I’m definitely not as comfortable sending a payment straight from our bank account.”
“With wire payments, there's a lot more opportunity for something fishy to happen or just something to go wrong,” Ransom continues. “With BILL, if there is a mistake or another problem, it is very easy to cancel. BILL makes everything easier and doesn't give me as much anxiety.”
Prior to BILL, Marine Layer used corporate cards for expenses. Their users were not always timely in reporting their expenses. To close, the Finance team had to wait until everyone had submitted their expense through Expensify. And because users only interacted with the system once a month, they did not have familiarity with expense coding and how it should be coded.
“I would really need to go in there and be pretty detail oriented to make sure everything was coded properly,” says Ransom.
BILL Spend and Expense syncs daily, so their expenses are much more up to date. “BILL gives us more up-to-date expense reporting,” says Ransom. “And it automatically codes to the accounts that we want, so I don't have to check and code each expense to make sure it's going to the right place.”
“BILL gives us more up-to-date expense reporting. And it automatically codes to the accounts that we want.”
And instead of having to wait 20 days after an expense was purchased for it to be recorded, expenses in the system the next day. Thanks to BILL Spend and Expense, the team is saving at least overall three to four hours per week on expense management. During the close, Ransom no longer has to interrupt what she was doing to bug people about expense reports.
“BILL is just a real time saver overall and it definitely speeds up our financial close,” says Ransom. “Not having to manually code for our monthly close really saves time and makes the close more efficient.”
“Overall, BILL is less of a headache for people having to submit expense reports and for me. It increases happiness for everyone,” she concludes.
“Overall, BILL is less of a headache for people having to submit expense reports and for me. It increases happiness for everyone.”
They were also attracted to BILL Spend and Expense because of the cash rewards option, which they did not have with their corporate credit cards. “I feel like I'm addicted to the points from BILL Spend & Expense.” Ransom says. “I try to pay anything and everything with BILL cards. Over the past couple months I've switched a lot of automatic subscriptions to BILL. We might as well earn some points and some cash back.”
Ransom has been using BILL rewards to fund company activities. “I'm starting to plan fun team lunches or other team outings. With our spend last month, we were able to cover our JP Morgan 5K and then have a little happy hour afterwards!”
Having one financial operations platform has been the biggest benefit of BILL overall. “Having one source of truth makes it really easy for the finance team, for management, for auditors, and even vendors,” says Ransom. “BILL saves a lot of time, a lot of manual errors, and just makes everything more efficient.”
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