“Any business operating in the US market knows how cumbersome the calculation of taxes can become due to ever-changing tax rates. Each state has its own tax regime prompting us to have a responsive system for calculating taxes according to the state where the order is shipped. The problem turns even severe when dealing in the B2B space where each customer places a high-value order. Since managing the back-end IT infrastructure and solutions was not our core competency, we leveraged the knowledge-base of Allied Consultants. I teamed up with their project team lead and carved out a solution using Microsoft Commerce Server, Accurate Tax Services and AccountingMate” (Client’s Project Team Lead).
The client is one of the leading plastic distributors and component manufacturers in the U.S. Client operates across nine U.S. states including New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. Having an operating history of 50+ years, the company has long-term relationships with world’s leading plastic and component manufacturers. The company has a full range stock of materials including plastic sheets, plastic Rods, and plastic tubes.
Delivering mechanical plastics that comply to the highest manufacturing standards is something that sets the company apart from its competitors. The company deals in two broad areas:
|Mechanical Plastics||Industrial Components|
|See through Plastics (Polycarbonate, Acrylic, Acrylic-Mirror, PETG) Black ‘n’ White Acrylic SheetsFoam BoardsPoly-carve||Pressure Formed PartsServices (Computerized cutting, CNC Routing, Laser Cutting)|
Custom cutting is the most valued service that allow the company’s customers to order plastic and components in quantities ranging from single unit to 1000s. Since custom cutting feature is highly popular among company’s customers, there are 100s of daily orders that the firm has to cater. This becomes a major challenge due to the variety in state tax structures. Further, each state keeps altering its tax structure and rate each year. A significant workload is to generate invoices as per the custom requirements entered by the customers. Each state’s applicable taxes have to be calculated. The main variables that impacted each invoice were:
- Quantity ordered
- Quality requested
- Destination State & applicable logistics charges
- Destination state’s tax structure & rate
Making the tax rate integration process as smooth as possible was also important since there were several processes simultaneously took place during each transaction. It was thus required that latest tax rates are retrieved and calculations made according to the oft-revised rates. Following processes usually took place in a typical transaction.
- Perform Online Checkout Process
- Calculate Shipping charges
- Calculating & communicating Tax levied according to the U.S. shipping destination
- Calculation of grand total by incorporating information such as City, State, Zip, Quantity of Items, applicable tax
- Generating invoices based on the aforementioned information
- Relay order dispatch command to the warehouse
Since it was impossible to manually calculate the tax according to customer’s location (each state has different applicable taxes), it was important to come with an integrated tax calculation solution that could also manage order details such as shipping charges.
Allied Consultants developed a solution that could integrate the calculation of applicable taxes, shipping charges, and quantity-based subtotal of the ordered materials.
- Shipping Charges
- Quantity of Items
Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 was used to develop the eCommerce shopping cart for the client. Commerce server provides the tailor-made design for every business user. It allows the application end user to self-manage the app. The Microsoft Commerce Server provides four main business modules:
- Catalog Manager
- Profile Manager
- Order Manager
- Marketing Manager
The eCommerce server’s API was made to send information to Accurate Tax that in turn calculated the applicable taxes of each order according to the destination state.
AccountingMate was used to store orders and final invoices were then generated using AccountingMate. Credit Card integration was also performed to provide multiple payment options to the platform users.
Tax calculation that complies to latest changes in each state’s tax structure is a cumbersome process. Making it easy was always beneficial for the end-user of the client. Tax is calculated immediately with a click of a button based upon the shipping destination of the customer. The client is now able to service 100s of client daily while maintaining an enhanced customer service, records management, and delivery services. The client now prefers to sell the merchandise through its eCommerce shop. Time to order confirmation, order processing and dispatch is reduced tenfold.
Cash flows have improved over the past 1 year and development plan for an up-graded website integrated with the eCommerce platform is underway.
- Microsoft Commerce server
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008
- ASP.NET 2.0