Secrets of the Amazon(.com)
Online shopping is quickly surpassing traditional shopping for more than just holiday deals and steals. From groceries and clothing to appliances and household décor, almost anything one needs can be purchased with a few clicks and delivered right to the front door. Convenient? Yes. Costly? Not if done right.
With more than 200 million users in over 185 countries, Amazon.com is one of the most popular ecommerce websites today, and the company does its best to hook a customer up. Here are eight ways:
If the price of an item drops within seven days of purchase, Amazon will refund the difference to the customer (if the item was sold and shipped by Amazon, not a third-party seller). For TVs and phones in specific, customers have 14 days to request a price difference refund if the item is being sold elsewhere for cheaper.
Send Amazon your used, unwanted phones, DVDs, video games and more and receive gift cards in exchange. Although the gift cards are for Amazon, as opposed to the cash given out by similar trade-in programs, the value tends to be much higher. An article on BuzzFeed.com points out that an iPhone 5 may fetch $75 on Gazelle but will bring in $225 in Amazon credit.
Amazon also hosts a number of microsites that offer even more savings.
Amazon Gold Box hosts popular, limited-time deals (think Cyber Monday-style) all year long.
Amazon Warehouse offers returned items at discounted prices. With labels such as “Like New” and “Very Good,” quality isn’t compromised—or a surprise.
Coupons is—you guessed it—and entire microsite of coupons for pretty much any type of item on the site, including household appliances, electronics, baby supplies, outdoor gear, clothing and more.
Amazon Outlet offers items at 30 percent off—or more.
MyHabit is dedicated to discounted designer goods.
Not everyone can afford $99 per month for Amazon Prime membership, but nearly anyone can benefit from the perks of membership, should a household member choose to be so kind. In fact, an Amazon Prime member can choose to be kind to four household members in total.
No sales tax (sometimes)
Third-party sellers on Amazon.com are not required to charge state sales tax, so purchasing big-ticket items from specific sellers can save a good amount of cash—if the seller chooses to take advantage of Amazon’s policy (not all do).
Free shipping (sort of)
For $99 a year, Amazon Prime members receive free 2-day shipping on most items. For students, the cost is only $49 per year, and comes with a free 6-month trial.
The Subscribe and Save program allows customers to subscribe to common household purchases such as shampoo, toothpaste, diapers and even food at a discounted price. Choose the quantity and frequency for delivery of the discounted items and receive an additional 15 percent off if five items or more are delivered on the same day.
Item arrives broken? They’ll replace it. Item arrives later than promised? There’s some money headed your way. Item never arrived (or was spotted by your kleptomaniac neighbor first)? Another is on its way—free of charge, of course.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.