Tips for Making Tax Season Less Taxing

Ah, spring. The season when flowers poke their heads up and accountants put theirs down. Yes, it’s that time—tax time. In the frantic melee of filing your federal returns, it can be easy to overlook your other tax obligations.

Here are some tips for staying on top of compliance in areas where oversights are common:

  • Account for contract help. You can minimize your audit risk by employing a bulk validation tool to ensure information, addresses and employee forms are correct and complete.
  • Collect and remit sales tax. Replacing manual processes with automation ensures the right rates and rules are applied to all your transactions and reported and remitted correctly.
  • Be audit ready. Over the past five years, the number of businesses being targeted for an IRS audit has increased. You can’t control your odds of being audited but you can control your odds of passing one.
  • Ensure year-round compliance. The more time you spend on taxes (which, by the way, don’t make you any money), the less time you have to spend on serving customers and generating real revenue.

You can’t avoid the taxman. But with the right processes in place, you can spend less time worrying about filing deadlines and preparing returns and get back to what spring is really all about: showering your customers with attention and making your bottom line bloom!

The good news is that we have teamed up with Avalara to help our customers address the complexity, time and risk of managing sales tax. One of the new and exciting features of Monsoon Stone Edge 7.5 is a robust and seamless integration with our partner, Avalara, for seamlessly dealing with all your tax needs.

Want to learn more? Avalara’s put together the 2015 Sales Tax Survival Guide to help you learn the important business function you can’t handle alone and what you can do about it.

 

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MonCon 2015 – It’s a Wrap!

monconimagebanner-2015web

The sixth Monsoon Commerce conference, held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, has come to a close and it was an incredible three days of keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, networking, parties, and more. A big thanks to our customers, partners, sponsors, presenters, and community– you helped make this year’s MonCon 2015 a huge success! At MonCon 2015, attendees discovered high-value content, an abundance of networking opportunities, hands-on training from Monsoon Commerce staff, and actionable ideas to help them grow their eCommerce businesses. And they had a blast! But don’t take our word for it… here are a few comments from our attendees:

“I was apprehensive about going to MonCon, but it was absolutely worth the money and time out of the office.” – Darren Barker, Chef’s Corner Store

“MonCon exceeded my expectations not only in the content presented but the mindshare and enthusiasm the entire Monsoon Commerce team displayed to every attending customer.” – Jim Schneider, Save on Supplements

“The event ran so smooth and organized. Having time to talk to other attendees and trade tips back and forth was worth the whole trip.” – Carrie Regnier, 1 World Sarongs

Outside of presentations and sessions, attendees spent time with MonCon sponsors, including eBay, Yahoo, eMerchant, World First, Avalara, and Miva. Our sponsors and exhibitors enjoyed spending time with our attendees and excited to help them transform their business.

Key Highlights From MonCon 2015:

  • Keynotes from industry experts, including Justin Jackson of Amazon Services and eCommerce guru, Bob Schwartz, former President of Magento
  • Hands-on product workshops
  • Dozens of breakout sessions (full agenda available here)
  • An exhibitor pavilion featuring valued partners and service providers
  • Product roadmap discussion
  • Networking meals, receptions, and loads of fun (including sunshine!)
  • Dinner outside in the Marina Courtyard with delicious food, fun drinks, and entertainment

For full details, check out the conference recap.

Check out a few photos from MonCon 2015:

For more event photos, check out our full MonCon 2015 gallery.

Thank you to all of our attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors who made MonCon 2015 a great success and a fun event!

MonCon 2015 Sponsors and Exhibitors:

Sponsor Image for Email

 

 

We look forward to seeing you all at MonCon 2016 next year!

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Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly – A Message from the Frontlines

This guest blog post was contributed by Monsoon Commerce customer, Andrew Carr of Mobius Commerce.

 

If you have received a recent message from Google Webmaster Tools regarding your website being “Mobile-Friendly”, it’s important to take action to address this issue. As stated on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Zineb Ait Bahajji, a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team, was quoted at SMX Munich as saying that the new mobile-friendly algorithm change will have more of an impact on search rankings than either Panda or Penguin, two of the largest and most impactful search algorithm updates Google has ever launched.

One thing to note is that the algorithm is applied page by page. This means that each page’s mobile friendliness is judged separately. That’s good news if your eCommerce catalog is mobile-friendly but your forums or other content sections are not. The unfriendly sections will not cause your entire site to be ranked as unfriendly.

Google currently offers two ways you can check your mobile friendliness:

  • If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

I have tested both tools, and while the Mobile-Friendly Test says my pages pass, the Mobility Usability Report still showed errors. However, those errors started to drop off over time, and the report showed the last test date for each page. Also, some pages may still contain errors in the Usability Report, but still pass the Mobile-Friendly Test. For now, as long as your pages pass the Mobility-Friendly Test, they will not suffer a penalty…for now.

The two most common ways of making a website Mobile-Friendly are:

  1. Mobile Site: essentially a copy of your website, where the server does the work to deliver an optimized page that’s smaller and easier to navigate. With a mobile site, you must create a different domain (many companies choose to differentiate theirs by “m.domain.com”).
  2. Responsive Design: the device does the work and automatically adjusts according to a device’s screen size (large or small) and orientation (landscape or portrait). It switches between these options on-the-fly. Responsive design lets you keep your own domain—nothing changes except code on the back-end.

According to Google:

“Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.”

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/mobile-seo/overview/select-config

So if you and your competitor both have mobile-friendly sites, if your site is a Mobile Site, and their site is a Responsive Design, their site will carry more weight with Google in mobile searches.

I’m currently working with 3D Cart on two websites they host for me. New websites with 3D Cart have the option to install a responsive design template. Existing websites hosted by 3D Cart already have a mobile site built in and can upgrade to responsive for a nominal fee. You only need to activate it and paste in a little bit of code. This is what I have done for my website BJJ Sports. When viewed from a mobile device, the website has a very different look and feel in its mobile version, but 90% of the pages pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test with very little effort required.

I have also activated the mobile site for my website One Tri, but I am currently working with 3D Cart to convert it to a responsive design. This is where the real work comes in. While they are doing the work to upgrade my templates, I have to convert all my content. This mostly entails converting tables to divs and replacing height and width properties in images with max-height and/or max-width style properties so that these elements can expand and contract to the viewing size of the device. Since the work is being done on a brand new site, I’m also responsible for moving my own custom code and scripts.

(No, I am not being paid 3D Cart, but if anyone from 3D Cart is reading this, I will gladly accept a free month on my current hosting plans.)

If you’re afraid you will not be ready for the change on April 21st, fret not, Google’s algorithm acts in real-time, which means that you can upgrade to a responsive design website after April 21. However, in order to reap the benefits on day one, you should prepare beforehand.

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New Shipping Report for Monsoon Stone Edge

Monsoon Commerce Reporting SystemAnalysis by our partner, 71lbs.com reveals that for most eCommerce retailers, shipping cost is approximately 10% of their sales. This is a key benchmark to track over time and compare. Understanding and analyzing how your shipping costs compare to how you are setting the shipping price is as much an art as it is a science.

Since the FedEx and UPS price changes for dimensional weight went into effect, we wanted to give Monsoon Stone Edge users an easier way to see if they are setting their shipping rates properly. The shipping costs for these carriers is now based on the volume of a package in relation to its weight. This means that the cost for shipping large, lightweight products has increased significantly.

That’s why we are excited to announce the availability of “Sales Summary with Shipping Cost,” a new shipping report for Monsoon Stone Edge. The new report displays the shipping price the customer was charged and the shipping label cost returned by the shipping platform for the carrier to Monsoon Stone Edge on a per order and aggregate basis.

The report is available for Monsoon Stone Edge version 7.0 and above. It is available for free with a current support and maintenance plan, and is easily installed through Custom Report Maintenance.

In addition, Monsoon Stone Edge has the ability to keep track of box sizes you have in inventory and estimate the shipping cost using the appropriately sized box based on the order. This ensures the accuracy of shipping cost estimates.

Our goal in releasing this new report is to help customers minimize the impact of the new price changes. If you are an existing Monsoon Stone Edge customer and you have any questions about this report, please contact your Account Manager. If you are interested in learning more about Monsoon Stone Edge and its reporting functionality, contact our sales team.

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MonCon 2015: The Best Investment You’ll Make This Year

Don’t Wait: Early Bird Registration Ends This Sunday, February 15
March 16-18 | Manchester Grand Hyatt | San Diego, CA

Downtown Skyline in Spring -Courtesy Joanne DiBona SanDiego.org

Early Bird Registration Expires February 15, 2015

Join us next month at MonCon 2015 in San Diego! If you haven’t registered yet, take advantage of our discounted Early Bird rate which expires this Sunday, February 15. After the Early Bird pricing expires, registration goes up by $150.

Here are a few reasons why you should attend, whether you’re new to Monsoon Commerce or a long-time customer.

New to Monsoon Commerce? Why You Should Attend MonCon 2015

With dozens of breakout sessions, industry keynotes and expert speakers, unlimited access to the Monsoon Commerce Client Services, Account Management, and technical teams, and plenty of networking opportunities, MonCon 2015 is a must-attend conference for online merchants, multi-channel retailers, and marketplace sellers.

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to meet and learn from industry experts. With industry keynotes from Amazon Services and the former President of Magento, dozens of breakout sessions, and customer panels, MonCon will give you the inspiration, insights, tools, and knowledge to give you and your business that extra advantage ahead.

Monsoon Pro and Monsoon Stone Edge Users: Why You Can’t Miss MonCon 2015

MonCon is the perfect opportunity to learn from the pros, network with other users, and meet the Monsoon Commerce team. This year, we are offering a new opportunity exclusive to customers: A full-day workshop designed to provide you with practical, hands-on product training in a small-group setting. Combine that with industry keynotes, product training and breakout sessions, lots of networking opportunities, and open access to our Support, Training, and Product teams, and MonCon is an event you won’t want to miss.

MonCon offers dozens of sessions, from marketing to global expansion to warehousing best practices, plus breakouts dedicated to expanding your knowledge of Monsoon Stone Edge or Monsoon Pro. Examples of sessions for Monsoon Stone Edge Users include: product tips and tricks, shipping best practices, and workflow and automation. For Monsoon Pro, you can expect sessions such as advanced pricing strategies, FBA, and eBay and Amazon best practices. Check out our agenda page for more details.

Enjoy Sunny San Diego and Stay at the MonCon Venue, the Manchester Grand Hyatt

In addition to all the powerful benefits for attending MonCon, you get to enjoy sunny San Diego during the conference! Did we mention it was 79 degrees in San Diego last week?

If you haven’t reserved your hotel for MonCon yet, join us at the MonCon venue, the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Take advantage of being on site for the conference, and enjoy this newly-renovated bayside retreat, which offers breathtaking views and is steps away from the city’s urban center and Gaslamp Quarter. Plus, you’ll get a special rate as a MonCon attendee, plus 10% off services at the on-site spa, complimentary in-room Wifi, and more!

Visit our site for more details about the hotel and location and to register for MonCon.  Spaces are going fast – don’t miss out!

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Meet the MonCon 2015 Keynotes: Former CEO of Magento, Director of Amazon Services

MonCon 2015 kicks off next month and we have exciting new details to share! In addition to speakers from Amazon and eBay, we have loads of industry experts slated to speak at our sixth Monsoon Commerce conference.

Today we are thrilled to highlight two of these speakers: Keynotes Bob Schwartz and Justin Jackson.

Bob Schwartz

Bob Schwartz

eCommerce luminary Bob Schwartz, former CEO of Magento and former EVP/Founder of Nordstrom.com is lauded as a high-energy industry leader and insider.

Most recently Bob was President of Magento (sold to eBay Inc.) where he and the founders built the company into a global eCommerce technology platform. In three years, Magento transformed into a leader in its space with a market share totaling over 30% of all online eCommere companies in the world. In the early days of eCommerce, Bob was hired by the CEO of Nordstrom ($15 billion per year fashion retailer) to start and build Nordstrom.com into an industry leader that is doing over $2 billion a year in revenue.

Bob is a serial company builder and globally recognized leader of technology and consumer-facing internet companies. He has produced over $1 Billion in exits for shareholders and founders via acquisitions from Amazon, eBay, Nordstrom, Packard Bell, First American, Cendant, Aetna and others.

At MonCon, Bob will share his expertise in how to build a successful brand, as well as discuss significant changes coming to the retail industry driven by technology.

Justin Jackson

Headshot_Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson, Director, Amazon Services, started with Amazon in Seattle in 2009 leading the go-to-market effort for Amazon Webstore. Since 2009, he has led sales and marketing teams in Amazon Payments, Amazon Local, and Marketplace. In 2012 he launched the Amazon Wine category, followed by Amazon Art in 2013. He is currently based in Dallas, Texas overseeing teams focused on the suite of Amazon Services offerings.

Join us at MonCon to hear Justin talk about the state of Amazon, particularly as it relates to third-party sellers. He will also share a variety of relevant data points regarding marketplace selling, both current and future projected trends.

 

MonCon is a rare opportunity to meet and hear from eCommerce leadership tied to Magento and Amazon in an intimate setting. In addition to the high-profile keynote speakers, we have incredible presenters and targeted topics lined up, including eBay. Discover all of our session topics on the MonCon agenda page. From Amazon Best Practices to Email Marketing for Retailers to Warehousing Best Practices, there is something for every retailer at MonCon.

Spaces Going Fast! Register by February 15 for Early Bird Rate

MonCon registrations are filling up fast. Take advantage of our discounted Early Bird rate of $465 for the full three-day conference until February 15. After that offer expires, registration goes up to $615. Register today!

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MonCon 2015 – Call for Presentations

moncon-2015

We are now accepting presentation proposals for MonCon 2015, and you have until January 23, 2015 to submit your presentation! This is the perfect opportunity for you to share your experiences, innovations, and best practices with the Monsoon Commerce community of retailers and partners.

We are open to all skill levels and ideas. We encourage our Monsoon Commerce customers, partners, and sponsors to participate.  However, we ask that this not be used as a platform for selling your product.  This time is reserved to educate the Monsoon Commerce community.

A few examples of presentation topics you could submit:

  • Tips and tricks for using Monsoon Commerce products
  • Success stories using Monsoon Commerce products and services
  • Innovative integrations with Monsoon Commerce partners
  • Research that would benefit the Monsoon Commerce community

There are perks for presenting at MonCon! Here are the benefits:

  • To recognize your contribution in making MonCon 2015 a success, we will waive your registration fee to MonCon 2015 if you’re selected to speak, a value of $495
  • Gain visibility for yourself and your business or services among eCommerce industry professionals
  • Demonstrate your expertise and the success of your business to a broad audience

Format of Presentation

Presentation audience can be from 10-400 people, and all conference participants are invited to attend. Presentations may be co-presented with another colleague, customer, or Monsoon Commerce partner.

The Submission Process:   

  • Step 1: Submit your proposal to moncon@monsooncommerce.com before January 23, 2015. Please submit the following information:
    • Your name, company, and title
    • Proposed title for your presentation
    • A description of your presentation in 2-3 paragraphs
    • Links to any sample slide decks, videos of presentations you’ve given
    • Resources you researched that you can provide in your submission
    • Phone number and email contact information
  • Step 2: A conference committee will review the proposals and select which presentations are the best fit for this year’s conference.
  • Step 3: Once chosen, we will keep you updated with the latest deadlines and provide you with guidelines to make sure your content is appropriate for the MonCon audience.
  • Step 4: Present at MonCon 2015 in San Diego!

We thank you for your consideration – we can’t wait to hear your stories!

Start the new year right by taking advantage of our super early bird pricing of $365 and register for MonCon today before the discount expires on January 15!

Note: We will refund your registration cost if you are chosen as a presenter at MonCon 2015.

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Registration Now Open for MonCon 2015

San Diego | March 16-18, 2015
Super Early Bird Rate Expires January 15

san diego edited

We are pleased to announce that MonCon 2015, the Monsoon Commerce conference, is back and open for registration! Join us in San Diego March 16-18 for the premier eCommerce event where online merchants, multi-channel retailers, and marketplace sellers learn about and share key strategies to drive online sales and streamline retail operations.

At MonCon, you will get inspired by eCommerce industry experts, gain insights from your fellow customers, learn practical tips from Monsoon Commerce staff, and make valuable connections with our partners. Combine that with industry keynotes, dozens of breakout sessions, an abundance of networking opportunities, and open access to our Sales, Support, Training, and Product teams, and MonCon is an event you won’t want to miss.

This year, we are offering a new opportunity exclusive to customers: A full-day workshop designed to provide you with practical, hands-on product training in a small-group setting. This is an amazing opportunity to get personalized, face-to-face education and service from our team of experts.

We’ll be sharing more details about our conference agenda in future posts, but here are some important details for you to know:

  • When: March 16-18, 2015
  • Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, CA
  • Who: You, and 300 Monsoon Commerce customers and prospects, plus Monsoon Commerce staff and key partners
  • Cost: Super Early Bird price (through January 15) is $245 for the two-day conference, and $120 for the full day workshop. This is an incredible value for the quality and quantity of content you’ll find at MonCon!

     Group Discount (same company): Buy 2, get 3rd+ at 50% off.

To get a taste of the conference, check out all the fun we had at MonCon events in previous years!

Registration for both the two-day conference and full-day workshop is $365 through January 15. Act now to get the best deal and secure your spot!

To get additional details about the conference, please visit our MonCon conference page.  We look forward to seeing you in San Diego in March!

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Webinar: The Evolution of Amazon Dynamic Repricing & What It Means for You

Mark Your Calendars for October 23, 2014amazon

Marketplace repricing technology has gone through a tremendous evolution in the last decade. Recent changes have resulted in marketplace sellers having more robust data delivered more rapidly than ever before. Join eCommerce expert David Van Der Merwe of Monsoon Commerce for this complimentary webinar to find out the benefits (and potential pitfalls) of this technology, and how to best leverage the Monsoon Pro marketplace solution to take advantage of new opportunities to grow revenue and win the Buy Box.

Attendees will learn:

  • The current state of pricing technology, and why it’s relevant to marketplace sellers.
  • The benefits of rapid repricing delivery, and the potential pitfalls (and how to avoid them).
  • How Monsoon Commerce leverages this new technology to help you succeed and grow your revenue.

The Evolution of Amazon Dynamic Repricing & What It Means for You
October 23, 2014
10:00 am – 10:30 am PT
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm ET
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm GMT

Posted in Books and Media, E-Commerce, E-Commerce Strategy, Electronics and General Merchandise, Marketplaces, Monsoon Commerce, Pricing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

eBay Welcomes Monsoon Commerce to Enhanced Certified Provider Program

ebay logoWe are very excited to announce that Monsoon Commerce has been invited to participate as a charter member in eBay’s enhanced Certified Provider Program. Providers will receive extensive services and support that benefit their customers selling on eBay, including best practices and selling tips. The ultimate goal of the program is to help sellers of proven providers accelerate their growth on the marketplace.

The performance-based program is limited to solution providers who have demonstrated success in supporting eBay sellers’ performance. For more than a decade Monsoon Commerce has worked with eBay, leveraging our relationship to help our sellers succeed. We anticipate that the enhanced Certfied Provider Program will give us even more access to eBay’s team and their expertise.

For more information, check out the article from eCommerceBytes and the announcement on eBay’s blog.

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