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Customer Experience is Key for Online Merchants

Customer experience is everything, according to a recent PwC survey report that quantifies the hefty price that satisfied clients pay in return for excellent solutions and service. The increasingly strategic importance of delivering a top-notch customer experience explains why online merchants face growing pressure to make their customers’ online experiences fast and seamless, including calculating and applying sales tax as quickly and accurately as possible.

As they strive to optimize the purchasing process, more online merchants – potentially a lot more online merchants of all sizes, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on South Dakota v. Wayfair in June – are trying to make accurate tax calculations a seamless component of e-commerce. By automating the sales tax collection process, online retailers free up more time, energy and creativity to devote to strengthening the customer experience. That has a concrete payoff, according to the PwC research: Users who enjoy great customer experiences will pay up to a 16 percent price premium on products and services and also report increased levels of loyalty.

Creating a top-notch customer experience is key to keeping customers happy. According to a recent article in Inc., “customers don't want to just buy a great product or select a reliable service. They want to turn the actual purchase into an experience that's enjoyable… something more than a simple transaction they pay for.”

The explosion of online marketplaces has made it more critical for retailers to differentiate their brands through providing excellent customer experiences. One way to do this is to offer value-added functionality through automated technology. Retail and tax executives should consider similar guidance as they look to make accurate sales tax calculations a seamless part of the online shopping experience.

As retailers and tax managers evaluate sales tax automation technology, they should look for solutions that can perform the following:

  • Automatically perform real-time and accurate sales tax calculations and sales orders and invoices for shopping cart items;
  • Automatically validate addresses to ensure the correct product taxability rules are applied;
  • Provide access to centralized sales tax data or maintain the tax data in your own environment;
  • Maintain exemption certificates;
  • Process coupon codes and discounts; and
  • Generate signature-ready PDF returns.

An example of this type of solution is the Vertex tax automation offering that is now included as a core bundled extension (CBE) on the Magento Commerce platform.

Retailers and ecommerce providers who consider automated technology as a key differentiator and part of their strategic plan for excellent customer experience programs will be the ones who will thrive.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.


About this Contributor

Kate Shields Headshot
Kate Shields
Head of Commercial Marketing

Kate Shields is Head of Commercial Marketing, working across the organization for sales enablement, partner marketing strategy and execution, as well as demand generation to increase revenue and grow the business. Prior to joining Vertex, Kate was Vice President of Marketing at a Fortune 1000 specialty consulting firm. Kate’s 25-year career has been spent combining technology and marketing to drive business success. Kate earned her M.B.A. in marketing and B.S. in MIS from Saint Joseph’s University.

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