Customer case study

Yesway says “yes way!” to Avalara MatrixMaster

“Once we make the change, all the stores have to do is update their registers, which takes less than five minutes.”

– Lisa Dodson, Price Book Manager, Yesway


Tax challenges

  • Rapid growth presents complex compliance risk
  • Risk increases exponentially as new states are added
  • Thousands of SKU’s requiring proper tax code assignment

Business systems

  • PDI Enterprise (Back-Office System)

Products


Results

  • Region-specific tax compliance risk mitigated
  • SKU eligibility for SNAP simplified
  • Taxability confidence

Reducing risk for rapid growth convenience chain

Yesway was founded on a simple idea: convenience stores should be, well, convenient. While product selection, pricing, service, and store layout are important, perhaps the most important factor in the convenience equation is location. 

Yesway is growing its geographic footprint quickly through acquisition and integration — and the pace is increasing. Today the company has around 30 stores in its home state of Iowa, with approximately 90 more across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. 

Yesway plans to acquire, improve, and rebrand 500 convenience stores in selected regions of the United States over the next several years.

Fast growth introduces new challenges

Because the company’s strategy is centered on fast growth through existing stores in new territories, the risks associated with sales tax compliance grow exponentially with expansion into each new state — a single acquisition can add anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 new SKUs, and local/regional rules governing sales taxes multiply the complexity due to inconsistent rules and classification of products.

“There are so many strange tax laws,” says Lisa Dodson, who manages the price book for Yesway. “For example, in Iowa a candy bar that contains flour is non-taxable, but one without flour is taxable. We can’t have those kinds of complexities slowing our growth or creating unnecessary compliance risks such as penalties, fines, or customer dissatisfaction.”

Rather than trying to solve this rapidly accelerating challenge on her own, Lisa decided to find an automated solution to assist with mitigating risk and getting the job done faster. “I wanted a knowledgeable, resourceful partner that would help us with unfamiliar situations,” she says. 

Lisa contacted PDI, the makers of Yesway’s back-office system, and asked for recommendations that would integrate easily. Only one recommendation came back: Avalara MatrixMaster.

Mastering multi-state, multi-jurisdiction retail tax rules

Avalara MatrixMaster is a specialized service designed to solve problems like Yesway’s. Retail companies with thousands of SKUs provide a complete list of products. Avalara then determines the taxability of each item in every state where the customer operates.

In Yesway’s case, these updates happen weekly. Lisa’s team runs a report from PDI Enterprise and sends it to MatrixMaster. The updated matrix comes back within a few days, and Lisa’s team validates it, asking clarifying questions if necessary. 

“We send them the report on Monday, and they upload the updated matrix by Friday,” she explains. When the matrix is ready, uploading the file into the POS system is simple. “Once we make the change, all the stores have to do is update their registers, which takes less than five minutes.” 

Yesway also uses MatrixMaster to determine the eligibility of individual SKUs for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). This can be a bit tricky, as Yesway offers both take-out items, which are eligible, and foods for immediate consumption, which are not. “MatrixMaster is there to help us catch those special cases,” says Lisa.

Lisa adds that the initial setup was smooth and easy, with the initial matrix of more than 50,000 SKUs having been returned by MatrixMaster within a month. 

With MatrixMaster, Lisa feels confident about Yesway’s sales tax compliance even as the complexity accelerates with growth. “The peace of mind is very beneficial,” she emphasizes. “We haven’t had any issues, but I like knowing that Avalara will stand behind their work if it ever becomes necessary.”

Lisa adds that the people at Avalara are easy to work with. “Any time I have a question, I can just give them a call.”


Avalara Sales Tax Compliance Suite

Avalara supports quick deployment by providing over 700 pre-built integrations to business applications.

Avalara AvaTax

Delivers sales tax calculations to your shopping cart or invoicing system, and aggregates your transaction data so you can calculate what you owe in Returns.

Avalara Returns

A filing service so seamless you’ll barely lift a finger -- Returns pulls your data from AvaTax to prepare and file your returns. If you choose, we can even remit payments for you.

Avalara CertCapture

A seriously upgraded way to manage tax documents in the cloud for tidy, audit-ready records. Syncs with AvaTax to automatically apply exemptions at checkout.

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