Scaling up your business for retail peak seasons

Peak sales seasons are a great opportunity to expand, as the right marketing strategy during peak season can attract a huge number of new customers to your business.

However, you’ll need to be prepared to handle a significant volume of both sales transactions and returns, and have an efficient cross-border shipping process. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to fulfil the increased sales the retail peak season brings.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can start scaling up your business for retail peak season. We’ll provide specifics on how you can reinforce your business infrastructure, perfect your tax compliance processes, and improve your supply chain management. 

For Europe and the U.S., retail peak season generally refers to the period between Black Friday (the day after American Thanksgiving) and Christmas. However, different countries and cultures have vastly different peak seasons. The advice we provide below can apply to any business looking to scale up for peak sales season, regardless of location or timing.

Shipping and supply chain management

When you’re getting ready for peak sales season, it’s much better to be early than late. As such, it’s wise to prepare your business ahead of time so you can make the most of the opportunity. A key task to complete is ensuring your supply chain is able to fulfil the high demand peak season creates.

Smart supply chain management is essential for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, as they lack the resources of large companies and may not be able to overcome challenges like material shortages or supplier price increases. In the ecommerce market, failing to maintain an effective supply chain likely means you’ll lose customers to larger competitors like Amazon.

Providing an excellent post-purchase experience is particularly important during peak seasons, because of the influx of new business you’re likely to see — it’s vital that you make a good impression on any new customers. By impressing new customers during retail peak season, you can spread awareness of your brand and potentially maintain your increased revenue even once peak season is over.

One of the best ways to ensure your customers are happy during peak season is to plan for things to go wrong. For instance, carrier contingencies are essential, as delivery companies can frequently be overloaded during peak season. If your carrier is unable to provide its usual service, having a contingency plan can be the difference between keeping and losing customers.

Additionally, customer convenience can play a big role in drawing customers to your store instead of your competitors. Offering delivery options like ‘ship from store’, ‘click and collect’, or ‘pick up/drop off collection’ can put orders in customers' hands much faster and ensure customer satisfaction.

Complying with tax and customs authorities

Tax compliance should also be high on your list of challenges to overcome when it comes to peak sales periods. More sales may mean selling to new markets, which means you’ll need a good understanding of your potential tax liability and obligations. You’ll also need to ensure you have software solutions in place to help handle tasks like the application of correct HS codes for when you ship goods across borders.

4 steps for scaling up your tax compliance

If you’re hoping to scale up internationally during a peak sales season, treat tax compliance as a step-by-step process.

  • Step 1: Before the season begins, your first step should be to research any potential liabilities based on your projected sales. Make sure to research the tax laws of the specific countries or regions you’re planning to sell in. For example, if you’re scaling up your business so you can sell into the U.S., you’ll need to research the tax laws of particular states, as well as U.S. national regulations.
  • Step 2: Next, make sure you’re registered for VAT or sales tax in any of the relevant countries or jurisdictions. Part of your research in step 1 should be looking into how exactly registration works — the details you’ll need to submit, the authority you’ll be submitting the paperwork to, and so on.
  • Step 3: Third, ensure you have a digital solution capable of calculating a broad spectrum of tax rates — this is an essential tool if you’re selling to multiple countries during peak sales season. Digital solutions like the Avatax platform can quickly and accurately calculate tax rates for an online store, then apply them at checkout. 
  • Step 4: The final step is to be certain you understand how to file returns so you’re remitting the correct amount of tax to the correct authorities. This task is crucial if you’re looking to avoid non-compliance penalties over the peak season. If you’re unsure, contact a local tax expert for advice on staying compliant.

Avalara can support your business as you scale

Although the increased revenue the retail peak season brings is a huge benefit, it gives your business a much bigger tax footprint. If you don’t have a strong financial background, and you’re looking to avoid financial and legal penalties from non-compliance, it’s a smart move to contact the experts at Avalara. We can provide you with tips on how to stay tax compliant even during the busiest time of the year. You can click here to get in touch today.

For more peak sales season tips, click here to download our latest whitepaper — it’s full of great information on scaling up your business, such as tips on navigating customs and handling international tax law.

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