This year Avalara welcomed over 3000 attendees to its two-day Inspire Virtual event – a series of sessions bringing together retail experts and leading industry voices. The aim was to discuss the future of global commerce and the opportunities and challenges facing sellers looking to grow their businesses internationally.
If you missed out, fear not! You can catch up on all the Inspire sessions on-demand here. But as an even quicker shortcut, we have summarised three key takeaways from the sessions.
Keynote speaker, retail magnate and TV Dragon Theo Paphitis delivered a clear message on day one – you need to have a robust plan when breaking into new territories. This means researching which markets have the most potential and using modern technology to take advantage of the e-commerce opportunities out there.
But that is easier said than done, and the reality is that taking this leap requires bravery. Theo himself commented that opening an exporting arm can be daunting at times. His advice? Reach out to third parties for reassurance, and to fill any knowledge gaps for businesses to make the most of cross-border opportunities.
‘Omnichannel retail’ was one of the core themes at the summit, reflecting the urge to rethink and reconsider how to ‘build back better’ in the retail sector post-Covid 19. In an interview with Luke Tugby, editor of Retail Week, retail expert Mary Portas, spoke about the world being ‘one big shop floor working in an omnichannel way, with interconnectivity being vital’. She explained that the future belongs to forward-looking brands who are ‘creative, flexible and fluid.’ Technology is an enabler for this.
But before businesses rush to expand their omnichannel capabilities, they need to step back and consider the underlying drivers of value for their specific business. Hamish McRae, the associate editor at The Independent, spoke of the new direction of the world economy post-Covid, dictated by consumer choice. As he put it, ‘the big picture is one of growth, and the small picture is one where your product is at the early stages of people wanting to adopt it’. Balancing growth ambitions with your ability to expand your operations effectively is vital.
In light of increasingly complicated and changing regulations, it is key you get your compliance house in order to avoid your customers suffering the consequences. No one wants to be hit by unexpected delays to their goods at the border or be ambushed by hidden costs.
To help navigate these choppy waters, it is important to know your markets and understand the rules. This can be a demanding endeavour, especially for small businesses, who may lack the resources or personnel to dedicate large amounts of time to the admin work involved.
Onboarding a third-party expert who can help you manage uncertainty about trading regulations and processes such as customs clearances, taxes, import restrictions in unfamiliar markets. Alex Baulf, International Indirect Tax Director at Grant Thornton, explores the value of ‘bringing someone in to be more strategic and own the tax strategy roadmap, to keep up and prioritize the changing requirements.’ This will ensure you don’t miss out capitalizing on the cross-border opportunity due to red tape.