Application Development

E-commerce Solutions: Drupal 'How-To'

Mar. 7 2013
Dagoberto Aceves
Lead Engineer

Enterprise E-Commerce Solutions and Webstores -- A Drupal ‘How-To.’

Taxes are an integral part of the solution; make sure to plan for their implementation

Building an e-Commerce requires a great deal of complexity.  There are multiple layers ranging from Products, Customer Experience, Order Management, Order Fulfillment, Card Information Security, Shipping, and Collecting Money.  Forgetting anything…what about taxes?  Taxes are confusing as it is (Tax Day is fast approaching by the way).  When taxes need to be bundled into an e-commerce solution things can get even more complicated.  Taxes typically get addressed when building out the Money Collection layer.  However, taxes are of such importance that their inclusion into the solution merits more attention and will most likely require a dedicated solution.

As Developers we tend to build things based on our own experiences on the web.  Whether we are developing high-end enterprise solutions, custom Drupal modules, Drupal themes, or application solutions we like to architect them similar to the best user interface designs we come across on other sites.  The same principle holds true when we develop e-commerce solutions for clients in the Healthcare IT, Entertainment, and Technology industries. Regardless of the scope and scale the development team here at Achieve really strives for the best User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) in all of our solutions, not just e-commerce and billing solutions.

However, it is not just the developers that build the site.  The lines of communication need to be open between all parties of the project including developers, project managers, and clients to CFOs and tax experts.  This is Project Management 101, but it has a heightened importance when creating a sophisticated webstore that includes extensive tax law.  If there is limited communication about the implementation of taxes, the solution may become a problem, one that can end up costing the client thousands of dollars in penalties and fines.

More often than not taxes hardly register on the radar of importance when developing a highly sophisticated enterprise e-commerce solution.   The intricacies of tax laws are vast and it is very important to incorporate Tax Directors and CFOs in webstore projects.  These stakeholders can define the state of the company’s nexus.  If you are asking, ‘what is a nexus?’ you would not be alone.   

A Nexus states the amount and degree of activity within the states boundaries that must exist before said state can tax a business entity’s income.  This is extremely important to know when integrating tax functionality into the billing code and solution.  Other pertinent questions to ask when developing an e-commerce solution:

  1. Will the client’s products have different tax rates in different state and cities (this is common) if so what are they?
  2. In which states is shipping taxable?
  3. How are the taxes calculated outside of the country?
  4. Is the Value Added Tax (VAT) calculated on the product?   

If you don’t know the answers to these important questions you could potentially be creating a site that could cost your client.  Your client may not have tax experts on hand but that does not exempt them in the eyes of the law.  Ignorantia juris non excusat.(ignorance of the law does not excuse).

We are not tax experts here at Achieve, but we do know how to work with companies who are, and we know the best and most credible third party sources to use.  Achieve also has countless hours of integration experience, so if you decide to use a third party tax solution we can create a seamless solution for you.   As Drupal experts we are familiar with Drupal Commerce, which has SaaS tax support.  Our developers have vast expertise in custom enterprise solutions, application solutions, API integration and web solutions in order to optimize your internal efforts and increase productivity, saving you time, money and resources.  


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