Customer case study

Discogs engineers find building AvaTax integration “shockingly fast”

“In my past lives, I’ve done a lot of integrations with some pretty nightmarish systems. Avalara was very, very easy. I had no trouble understanding the logic, which was clear and consistent.”

– Joshua Provonchee, Software Engineer, Discogs


Tax challenges

  • Tax compliance risk due to global marketplace complexity, ever-changing tax landscape

  • An ecommerce marketplace that presents challenges with calculating tax

Business systems

  • Proprietary marketplace system

Products

  • Avalara Certified Service Provider for Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) Program

  • Avalara Managed Returns Service

  • Enterprise Support

Results

  • Confident tax compliance across jurisdictions and regions

  • Flexible Avalara API makes integration and upgrades easy

  • Dev support highly-invested in seamless implementation

Sales tax calculations automated for complex, global marketplace

Discogs is on a mission to build the biggest and most comprehensive music database and marketplace. Imagine a site with discographies of all labels, all artists, all cross-referenced — and an international marketplace built on top of that database. Originally created as a hobby project in 2000, Discogs has become a definitive resource for physical music media such as vinyl and CDs, ranking just behind Amazon and eBay globally. 

Discogs found itself exposed as legislation in 35 states began holding platforms like Discogs responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax for the transactions it enables. The company chose AvaTax to handle its sales tax calculations.

“Avalara proved to be a one-stop-shop for the variety of advisory services we needed to automate our U.S. tax compliance efforts,” said Nick Haselwander, the company’s director of product. Discogs’ engineering organization dove into what it thought would be the daunting challenge of building an integration for its proprietary billing system.

Integrating AvaTax
Discogs currently runs a custom-built billing system in addition to the marketplace platform that processes direct sales. “We chose Avalara to work with our proprietary platform and then to flex easily when we need to make changes to our marketplace,” Nick explained.

The company’s developers created an internal tax microservice to serve as a bridge between the marketplace and AvaTax, to insulate the process from changes happening to marketplace code. “The tax service also does some housekeeping on the data before it’s passed along to AvaTax,” said Joshua Provonchee, software engineer. “That helps us economize the number of calls to the AvaTax API.”

Easy and exceptional
“In my past lives, I’ve done a lot of integrations with some pretty nightmarish systems. Avalara was very, very easy. I had no trouble understanding the logic which was clear and consistent as we applied it across different endpoints,” Joshua added. 

“In my experience a project such as this is challenging and can be time-consuming, but the integration to AvaTax was fast. I was actually a little confused by how little work we needed to do,” Nick agreed.

“The quality of Avalara’s support stood out more than anything, compared to past integrations I’ve done,” said Kian Dinyari, senior software engineer. “It’s like dealing with another engineer in your own company. There’s no turf. They are totally invested in solving your problem.”

Kian and Joshua reported that the whole integration went very smoothly. “Everything worked shockingly fast,” said Joshua, “and their sandbox actually represents what you get in production, which isn’t always the case.”


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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