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Black Friday is a popular holiday around the world in which floods of consumers flock to stores to make the most of the discounts presented to them. This year, the number of consumers investing in Black Friday deals online is only expected to grow.

The total amount expected to be spent online during Black Friday this year is $12 billion, and for Cyber Monday this figure is $10 billion. According to another source, E-commerce sales are expected to grow from 14% to 18% over these two holidays. It is because of figures such as these that sellers feel under pressure to hit holiday targets.

In this article, we will explain how you can prepare your online business for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019. We will advise on how to optimise your platform to maximise sales and how to stay VAT compliant during these holidays.

Optimise for Black Friday success

e-commerce

1. Check the speed of your website

If you have an online store, you need to ensure it is up to scratch before the holiday weekend hits. Heightened traffic can slow page load speed and even cause your site to crash, and we all know that when a website crashes, it is very off-putting. Check your site’s performance before you begin to incorporate deals on your site.

2. Ensure a smooth checkout process

When a customer purchases online, a long-winded, complex checkout process is not what they want to see. In particular, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday they will want to be able to buy their items at the click of a button. In order for your business to make sales, you can optimise your checkout process by enabling One-click buying, or by incorporating PayPal, Shopify Pay, Apple Pay or Android Pay onto your site.

3. Optimise your site across all devices

Being able to access an online store from a mobile device with ease is essential nowadays. Retailers who do not optimise their website for mobile could miss out on a lot of sales this Black Friday. In 2018, 39% of holiday sales came from mobile phones. Online businesses can optimise their website by ensuring that their content is easily viewable and formatted for use on a mobile device.

4. Break language barriers

If you regularly sell products across Europe and/or internationally, your E-commerce platform should already be optimised so that anyone who accesses it can easily understand it. However, if you are planning to sell to cross-border markets this Black Friday and you have not yet made your site viewable in other languages, it is important you change this. Black Friday is not only popular in the UK and US, but also in countries such as France, Germany and Spain.

5. Make use of social media

According to research carried out by the National Retail Federation, during Black Friday in 2018 17% of all shoppers used Facebook to look for information on Black Friday sales and promotions. 9% of all shoppers used Instagram and 4% of them used Twitter. This presents an excellent opportunity for merchants looking to gain traction this Black Friday – if you are an online seller you can use social media to promote your discounts and drive traffic to your platform.

6. Take advantage of Amazon Black Friday

If you are a seller on Amazon, Black Friday is a day not to be missed. With 45% of all sales expected to take place on Amazon this year, online businesses need to get ready to optimise their products in order to see them fly off virtual shelves. Amazon FBA specialist Chris MacNeil has suggested that sellers stock extra inventory and offer free shipping on products to reap the benefits of Amazon Black Friday to the max.

Stay VAT compliant

VAT

As Black Friday takes place across Europe, cross-border sellers will see their sales increase dramatically. Although this is means a new level of success for these businesses, if sellers are not aware of the VAT implications of the countries they are selling in, they can became liable for tax without realising it. For example, J&P recently reported that E-commerce businesses across Europe run the risk of passing other countries’ distance selling thresholds during holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Once a business has passed a distance selling threshold, it is against the law if they do not register for VAT and start charging VAT on the sales they make in that country.

So how can you ensure that your business stays compliant?

1. Know the distance selling thresholds of the countries you are selling to

Keep a record of where you are making your sales and keep in mind each country’s distance selling threshold, so that you know when you have passed the threshold. The table below presents the distance selling thresholds for the most popular E-commerce markets in the EU.

Country Distance Selling Threshold (in £) (in €)
UK £70,000 £70,000 €81,700
France €35,000 £30,000
Germany €100,000 Approx £85,000
Spain €35,000 £30,000
Italy €35,000 £30,000
Poland PLN 160,000 Approx £32,000 Approx €37,000
Czech Republic CZK 1,140,000 Approx £38,000 Approx €45,000
Netherlands €100,000 Approx £85,000
2. Keep a close eye on the number of sales you make

It is important that you closely monitor your revenue in order to avoid passing over thresholds unknowingly – you can do this through using analytics software or software that tracks your sales which may be integrated into the E-commerce platform you use.

3. Register with an accountant who specialises in VAT

If you are concerned about staying VAT compliant whilst enduring the whirlwind of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is a good idea to consider getting in touch with an accountant who can keep you updated on global VAT regulations and register for VAT on your behalf if required – J&P Accountants can do just this!

Start selling!

We hope that this guide has helped you to feel prepared for the festive bonanzas that are taking place over the next two weeks, and we wish great success for your business. If you have any queries about staying tax compliant and maximising your business’s growth, please do not hesitate to call us on 0191 378 0287, speak to one of our advisors, or drop us an e-mail to vatdurham@jpaccountant.com.

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