How to navigate cross-border selling successfully
The opportunity for businesses to expand by selling overseas or cross-border has never been greater.
Beyond just the opportunities for major enterprises, online marketplaces have now made cross-border exporting accessible to huge numbers of SMEs, providing a simple and effective way of presenting their products to a broader customer base.
For example, in 2018 cross-border SME exports accounted for around a third (32%) of all UK export activity, with a large proportion of this business being done within European markets.
Indeed, exporting to Europe is an essential part of growth strategies for many companies – big or small – but doing so successfully is not always plain sailing.
Keeping up with compliance
Compliance is the big challenge for many businesses.
For example, in July of this year the European Union implemented a series of new ecommerce regulations as part of plans to create a more level playing field for all businesses and provide greater transparency for consumers. The most significant of these changes surrounds VAT.
Some will argue that the changes are a long time coming. The last set of EU VAT rules were updated in 1993, well before the advent of mass ecommerce and the digital age.
However, for some businesses – particularly small firms without compliance and tax teams – this may have hit them out of nowhere and caught them off guard. And trying to get up to speed isn’t always easy. Many business owners will have been confronted with potentially confusing information and a seemingly endless series of FAQ pages about these new European VAT regulations in recent months.
Regardless, it is essential that companies overcome these complexities in order to remain compliant. Those that fail to do so could face a series of risks – including significant fines and delayed goods at the border – that may ultimately have a negative impact on their bottom lines and export sales.
Businesses are not alone
You don’t have to be alone when it comes to managing the complexity. Third party experts like Avalara can act as an essential business partner in navigating compliance challenges such as the new European VAT regulations.
Avalara’s cloud-based platforms can be updated in real time as regulations change, helping businesses seamlessly manage complicated and burdensome tax compliance tasks imposed by state, local, and other taxing authorities throughout the world.
Avalara’s message to business owners is that they are here to offer a helping hand. As the way they conduct tax affairs in Europe changes, they are here to help make sure you stay one step ahead and remain compliant.
Brexit has largely done it for me. My business is based in France and I exclusively use Amazon FBA. In 2020, my UK turnover was 14% of my total turnover, so about €145k. I’ve given that up. I’ve also given up buying from UK businesses for that reason. To me this article is a bit misleading because the headline is all about the opportunities that are there and then goes on about the complications that make it difficult. So because I use FBA, I’ve got 4 different tax agents for 5 different Amazon storage countries. Spain is a total nightmare from a VAT point of view. So, I just accept the agent’s fees and the occasional unjust ‘fines’ as a business cost. On another tack, you have to remember that in Germany 14% of customers return goods. If I hadn’t been established for 16 years, I wouldn’t be starting now!