Running your own ecommerce business is no small feat, which is why many online retailers look to industry experts for guidance about everything from building a solid tech stack to finding the right accounting partner. After all, the best advice comes from people who have successfully navigated the scenarios you’re struggling with. The only drawback? The internet is full of conflicting information, and it takes time—your most scarce and valuable resource—to find the diamonds in the rough.
Here’s the good news: Over the last few months, we’ve spoken with several ecommerce experts who have proven track records and plenty of wisdom to share. These are just some of the insights they’ve offered.
On Ecommerce Sales Taxes
“Paying a little bit of sales tax that you should have collected before you got that [nexus] button turned on is a lot less expensive than the consequences of not collecting it and not remitting it.” —Brad Scott, Director of Finance, Halstead Bead, Inc.
Economic nexus is established when a business has any sort of physical presence in a state, or reaches that state’s revenue and/or sales volume threshold. During our Sales Tax Concerns for Small Online Sellers webinar, panelist Brad Scott recommended that businesses be vigilant about collecting sales tax as soon as nexus has been established.
“Check in at least once a year to see how your nexus footprint has changed. Do you have nexus in more states than you did before? You don’t want a liability just growing within the business.” —Alex Oxford, Founder, TaxValet
Also during the webinar, panelist Alex Oxford stressed the importance of regularly reviewing your business operations so you don’t miss anywhere that your business has established a nexus.
“Every online retailer’s tax situation is different [but] when they wait until just before the filing deadline—the last minute—we don’t have time to explore their full situation and discover ways to reduce their tax liability that might not be apparent during the first review.” —Mark Chapman, CPA, My Virtual CFO
Procrastination can have some serious consequences, which is why CPA Mark Chapman says online retailers should file early and reduce tax liability. Need some help staying organized to make this possible? Check out our tips.
On Utilizing Technology
“There’s so many different parts of your business that you can automate. If you try to do everything at once, it can be very overwhelming. But taking some first steps, as soon as possible, will really help your business.” —Soon-Chul Choi, CPA, Webgility
Veteran ecommerce sellers know that automation is the key to productivity and accuracy. By leaving the administrative tasks to technology, you can reclaim your time and spend it on strategy. It might seem intimidating at first, but the return on investment is nearly immediate.
“If you don’t have a system that combines [your data in one location], then you drop the ball without even knowing it.” —Peter Eastvold, Owner, BlackRock Business
QuickBooks Point of Sale expert Peter Eastvold noticed in the early days of his operation that he was missing leads from prospective clients because his systems weren’t connected. And the pitfalls of lost data? Let’s start with no long-term business viability.
“Brands that invest in the right technology and implement proactive measures are more likely to succeed regardless of how sales channels or customer expectations evolve.” —Nick Manzo, Global Omnichannel Lead, 1WorldSync
Ecommerce is a tech-fueled industry, and businesses that hold tight to antiquated methods of operation should know their days are numbered. But if you’re willing to work with technology, you’ll more easily adapt to any changes.
“It’s all about what’s best for your business. You may find the most benefit from an inventory management system, accounting automation software, or a point-of-sale (POS) system that integrates across channels. Even better if you use a solution that consolidates all of your omnichannel data needs into one tool.” —Parag Mamnani, Founder and CEO, Webgility
Every organization has slightly different needs, but a multipurpose solution can address several pain points at once while saving time, money, and plenty of headaches.
On Omnichannel Retail
“Omnichannel customers are the holy grail of shoppers, but it takes time and effort, and actually that unified view of your data to find who those customers are and then target and retain them.” —Koshika Samarasinghe, Retail Product Partnership Manager, Shopify
Shopping is no longer a linear process. From digital advertising to social media to brick-and-mortar stores, consumers may see a brand dozens of times before making a purchase. Each touchpoint creates a stronger connection and a more loyal customer.
“Today’s consumers do not dissociate their in-store and online experiences within a brand. They expect to have multiple touchpoints with a retailer, and they demand that their experience from each touchpoint or channel be seamless.” —Anati Zubia, VP of Marketing, Webgility
The key to a true omnichannel business? A streamlined customer experience across digital and physical channels. No more treating your marketplace presence like a separate business from your brick-and-mortar store.
“Once you understand what your conversion paths are, you need to rank your pathways and see which ones are the most valuable.” —Sean Buckley, Retail Partnerships Lead, Shopify
In a recent webinar, omnichannel expert Sean Buckley from Shopify spilled the secrets real high-growth sellers are using on the platform. A popular tactic: testing conversion pathways across sales channels to determine which are most profitable, then prioritizing accordingly.
On Working with Accounting Professionals
“Ultimately accounting professionals are on the front lines for clients and need to be able to see when there is risk.” —Veronica Wasek, CPA, VM Wasek
Most ecommerce-minded entrepreneurs don’t launch their businesses to get into accounting. Instead, they trust their finances with educated, experienced professionals who can identify any issues with compliance.
“A really good, proactive advisory accountant is working on a forecast with the client on a monthly or quarterly basis. Technology makes real-time advisory possible, so you can offer clients much more tangible insights.” —Jody Padar, VP of Strategy, Botkeeper
Jody Padar, CPA, urges ecommerce accountants to embrace automation and focus on big-picture financial advising rather than crunching numbers.
On Moving Forward
“It’s critical for ecommerce businesses to assess and leverage their strengths to seize the humongous opportunities that exist in the challenging yet high-growth environment.” —Manoj Chhablani, VP of India Operations, Webgility
Manoj Chhablani, author of Amazon bestseller The Genius You, has been in the industry for over a decade and advises business owners to take advantage of the consumer shift toward online shopping and conquering ecommerce with a growth mindset.
“The future of ecommerce is still in front of us. Here’s what I mean: if the world of ecommerce was a baseball game – we are still at the hotel. We haven’t even left to go to the stadium yet. That’s how early we are in the story of ecommerce.” —Harley Finkelstein, President, Shopify
From the president of the most popular ecommerce platform—what other motivation do you need?
By guest contributor Taylor Knauf