Staci Stickovich

Let’s talk turkey…and sales tax

Post originally appeared on the Avalara Blog on October 30, 2015.

Turkey and taxes. The U.S. has a long history of both. And in 2010, the two converged in Virginia as part of an annual Thanksgiving tradition where tribal and state leaders pay homage to a more than 330-year-old treaty: then-governor Bob McDonnell was presented with a turkey (and two deer) by tribal chiefs in lieu of taxes. Unfortunately, paying taxes in trade doesn’t work for most of us. Depending on where and how you celebrate this year, your Thanksgiving feast could be served up with a side of sales tax.

Home cooking. Stop by your local supermarket for your traditional Thanksgiving dinner fixings – turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin, etc. – and you won’t pay sales tax on those food items in most states. That’s most, not all; 14 states tax groceries at either the full sales tax rate or a reduced rate. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. Buying local? Some states, like Virginia, consider farmers and co-ops that sell at outdoor markets or through Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs or websites to be engaged in “direct marketing.” Since they sell to consumers or end users, sales tax is collected on taxable goods and must be separated out from the item price. Some states, like Kansas, also require sales tax to be collected on monthly CSA subscription fees. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

How to keep data safe in a BYOD era

When employees can utilize their own mobile devices for work, they are often more productive. As a result, organizations are beginning to utilize them more as business tools by adopting cloud-based services and custom apps that foster productivity.

Unfortunately, the rise in the mobile workforce has also led to an increase in security risks. In August of this year, a report from Check Point Software found that mobile devices are the biggest point of vulnerability in any enterprise’s cybersecurity efforts. In fact, the survey found that companies with more than 2,000 mobile devices, there is a 50 percent chance that at least six of them have been infected with some type of malware. Given that mobile workers are out and about, accessing company data from anywhere, business leaders are rightly concerned about the security of these devices. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Let’s be direct: If you sell to consumers, sales tax is an issue

Post originally appeared on the Avalara blog on October 7, 2015

Getting closer to the customer is no longer a retail-centric sales strategy. More manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers are starting to sell direct to consumers (D2C). Motivations vary: brand awareness, customer loyalty, even product innovation. But for the most part, B2B sellers are simply looking to give consumers what they want — the ability to buy products directly from the source. Many are already doing it. A June 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 70% of U.S. consumers already purchase directly from manufacturers.

Adding a D2C sales channel can help you grow and expand your business, but it’s a vastly different buying experience for the customer. Before diving in, you should ask yourself: is the company operationally ready to handle direct to consumer transactions? Is your web store mobile-friendly? Can you manage high-volume inventory and order management? Have you ramped up customer support? How are you handling transactional tax? That’s right. As soon as you supply items to the end user, you’re on the hook to collect sales and use tax. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Curious about Business Intelligence tools but unsure where to start?

Business Intelligence (BI) tools allow business leaders to stay informed of the inner working of their companies so that the decisions they make have the best possible outcomes for business growth. According to Gartner, Business Intelligence tools include the applications, infrastructure and best practices that enable a business to analyze data to improve decisions.

Having BI tools can help organizations increase their competitive advantage. By centralizing data, business leaders are able to spot trends, uncover inefficiencies, and gain a deeper understanding of their customers. According to ComputerWeekly contributors Martha Bennett and Boris Evelson, as more pressure is placed on businesses to make the shift to the digital and mobile realms, data and information becomes ever more important. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Will it be happy holidays for retailers this year?

Five To-Do’s for 2015 that will have you wrapping up the season in the Black (Friday).

Post originally appeared on the Avalara blog on September 9, 2015

November and December are no “ho-ho-ho” laughing matter for retailers. Seasonal shopping is serious business. Nearly 20% of total retail sales occur during this period. But shopping trends are a lot like fashion trends; what was hot last year may not be now. Here’s a closer look at some key takeaways from 2014 as well as a “nice list” for what retailers can do this year to keep customers happy and keep them spending.

  1. Get the early birds and the last-minute shoppers

Why wait for the day after when you shop on Thanksgiving! The shopping calendar is getting longer with more people getting a jump start on holiday gift-buying and others waiting to snap up last-minute deals. Last year retailers offered premium deals on Thanksgiving Day rather than holding off until Good Friday or Cyber Monday. Drawn-out discounts also led more people to shop later into the season causing sales to spike on December 21 and 22. Continue the tradition this year by: Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Pinnacle announces new Customer Immersion Experience

The Future of Productivity has come to Indiana!

Pinnacle, An Advanced Imaging Solutions Company is taking business productivity to the next level – and business leaders are invited to experience the difference. The certified Microsoft partner has recently opened a Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience Center in their Mishawaka office.

The Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) allows businesses to test-drive Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite in a hands-on environment. These sessions enable you to explore the full potential of Microsoft’s best-in-class technologies, including Office 365, SharePoint Server, Skype for Business, and Dynamics CRM. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Traction in the Cloud leads to new business models

Traction in the Cloud leads to new business models
Cloud computing has been making waves in the tech and business communities since its inception. A recent study from Oxford Economics and SAP found that not only are 69 percent of businesses planning to make heavy investments in the cloud over the next three years, but they are also planning on deploying more business models in the cloud as well. In fact, 55 percent of enterprises are planning to launch new business models in the cloud in the next three years, compared to the 44 percent that are doing it now.

Enterprises aren’t the only ones moving to the cloud. Small businesses are making their mark there as well. According to a 2014 study from Emergent Research and Intuit, 78 percent of small businesses will be fully cloud operational by 2020 [see SlideShare]. The benefits of cloud computing for small businesses include improved efficiency and streamlined processes.

Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Top benefits of managed IT services for SMBs

As technology evolves, it can be costly to employ personnel with the level of skill and acumen needed to maintain an organization’s entire infrastructure. Managed Service Providers (MSP) take on many of the maintenance-related duties regarding networks and systems for business.

It’s popularity can be attributed to the many benefits it carries for small and midsize business, and has resulted in exponential growth in the managed services market. In fact, according to MarketsandMarkets, the managed IT services market will be worth $50.83 billion by 2019.

Below, we’ve uncovered the primary benefits of outsourcing managed IT services for SMBs: Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

Services sales tax spreads through states

Post originally appeared on the Avalara Blog on September 9, 2015

In most states, services are exempted from sales tax unless explicitly made taxable by law. So why are the governors of at least two states, as well as legislators in another, fighting to change that?

Sales taxation used to focus exclusively on physical goods. As the United States moved toward a service economy, states started to realize that not taxing services meant giving up billions of dollars in potential revenue. Continue reading

Staci Stickovich

3 tips to protect your business against Cyber-attacks

The Mississippi Business Journal recently reported that
it’sKeep your data on lock from hackers! no longer a matter of “if” a business becomes the victim of a cyber-attack – it’s a matter of when. Businesses from all industries and sizes are at risk of cyber-attack. In fact, a recent study from the Ponemon Institute found that a staggering 91 percent of health care organizations had experienced at least one security breach in the last five years.

Organizations are aware of the increasing need to safeguard sensitive information from cyber-criminals – but what can be done to make sure their data is secure? Here are three tips to help business leaders protect their data: Continue reading