Avalara Power
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated May 10, 2019

Avalara Power

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Modules Used

  • AvaTax
  • Returns

Overall Satisfaction with Avalara

We use Avalara for sales tax calculcations, reporting and remittance. The tax department owns the relationship with Avalara, but the IT and web platform departments work quite closely with Avalara as well. Avalara takes the challenge out of calculating sales tax for our multi-state, multi-entity retail businesses. In light of the Wayfair decision, Avalara has been a great tool to already have implemented. We have added approximately 25 states since the Wayfair decision.
  • Provides up-to-date sales tax rates
  • Maintains taxability rules in every jurisdiction -- assuming that you have your products mapped accurately.
  • Completes the reporting and remittance process in a timely manner
  • Customer service can be a challenge. Avalara tends to give you a canned answer . . . even when you tell them that you've already tried their canned solution.
  • Billing can be a challenge. Review all bills from them. Verify all amounts with your contract.
  • Timeliness of responses on compliance notices from states has a little to be desired. Process is very slow, even though Avalara prepares, files and remits for the majority of our sales and use tax returns.
  • As a result of Wayfair, we had to begin filing approximately 7,300 sales tax returns in a year vs. 1,500 sales tax returns. And we did this without adding a headcount. We may need to add headcount in a couple of years when we are subjected to more audits, but for now, Avalara took on the extra returns and we didn't need to add a preson to our department.
  • Also as a result of Wayfair and the requirement to collect and file in many new states, our transaction-based fee went up significantly , which hurts our bottom line.
  • We spend a little more time researching compliance notices, since we don't actually prepare the returns (Avalara does), but it is still a much more efficient process than manually preparing returns ourselves.
Sometimes the dashboard is hard to follow or takes forever to load. There are also some features that aren't very easy to find. I think the dashboard probably contains more information that would be nice to know, but you don't find out about these things unless you attend an Avalara training or a conference like CRUSH.
  • We use the returns filing. As mentioned below, this allowed us to more than quadruple our annual compliance burden without adding staff. We fully expect to add staff within the next couple of years to help deal with the audits that are (no doubt) coming.
  • Vertex O Series
For the size of our company and the tools that we need, Avalara was priced better than Vertex or Sabrix and, appeared to be more self-suffient . . . that is more intuitive than the competition. The sales person from Vertex made us feel like we were too little for them. Avalara made us feel like we would be a valued partner from the beginning.
I believe Avalara works best for web retailers. Not sure that Avalara would be the tool to use at POS systems. While the system is very fast and reliable, there are random times where it lags. There doesn't seem to be a system problem or anything, just a time delay.

Avalara Feature Ratings

Sales and Use Taxes
10
Cross-border Taxes
Not Rated
VAT / GST Taxes
Not Rated
Energy and Fuel Taxes
Not Rated
Geolocation for Tax Assessment
9
3rd-Party Software Integrations
6
Tax Data Reporting
8
Compliance Administration Management
8
Tax Exemption Processing
Not Rated
Tax Document Management
Not Rated
Complex Tax Scenario Management
7

Cross-Border Tax Compliance with Avalara

Wayfair has required us to increase our footprint. Without Avalara there is no way that we could have kept up with the number of new states.

Using Avalara

6 - Tax, Accounting and IT are the primary users of Avalara. IT helps coordinate the web team and accounting utilizes Avalara reports to prepare the journal entries for the cash tax payments. Tax is the primary user -- that sets up the product mappings, compliance calendars and runs reports for audits.
2 - The people that support Avalara within our company have a solid understanding of sales tax and how it works. They have worked with various support people within Avalara to determine how to best set up rules and mappings and know how to run ad hoc queries and tests.
  • Real time tax calculation
  • Reports that can be generated by state/time period to support audits
  • Returns are filed by the same system that calculated the tax, so all information is in one place.
  • We utilize Avalara to verify tax rates for one of our lines of business that doesn't (yet) use Avalara. Just need the details of the transaction and let Avalara do the rest.
  • We also obtain rate tables for our HQ state that we utilize in our Excel based use tax process.
  • Use tax -- The Avalara solution to automate this sounds good . . . I just need to get the internal support for this project.
  • We also have a handful of brands/entities that currently use a flat rate table from Vertex to calculate tax. This needs to change!
Accuracy. The systems works. There is very little down time. For most of our businesses, Avalara provides a start to finish process for all of sales tax.

Evaluating Avalara and Competitors

  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Vendor Reputation
  • Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
From day one, Avalara made us feel like a true partner. They answered all of our questions and took the time to get to know us and our business -- even our very manual, custom processes. Their responsiveness during implementation was key to us getting the system in place in a timely manner and within the expectations of everyone involved.
I 'm not sure that much would have changed. We may have looked at the other vendors with a little more detail and we probably would have talked to more people about their experiences with the different services/products that Avalara offers. We didn't utilize the Avalara returns/compliance from the beginning and we truly wish that we would have started that process on day one!

Avalara Implementation

Change management was a small part of the implementation and was well-handled
  • Determining how to map products.
Focus on the mapping of product and make sure that your merch team understands the criticalness of accurate classification. Use the implementation process to build relationships with others within your own company. We also could have used a little more assistance on how to set up the filing calendar for returns. This additional help may have pushed us to implement the Avalara returns process much sooner than we did.

Configuring Avalara

For our business, it was just right. We didn't find anything that it couldn't do to meet our needs.
Don't map UPCs -- Map product categories!

Avalara Support

Timeliness of responses to compliance notices is terrible. We oftentimes get a second notice before getting a response from Avalara.
ProsCons
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Not kept informed
Escalation required
Difficult to get immediate help
Need to explain problems multiple times
Slow Initial Response
No - Transaction cost is too high. Business won't support spending more $$.

Using Avalara

ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • Product mapping is very easy using the upload feature
  • Running transaction reports for audits is very easy.
  • Looking up filed returns can be a little cumbersome. Not all returns are on the dashboard as quickly as I would expect.
  • Setting up a filing calendar can be cumbersome. A lot of information to enter!

Integrating Avalara

Fairly quick and easy, even with our custom connector.
  • API (e.g. SOAP or REST)
  • We have a self-developed system that we have integrated with Avalara.
Our systems are self-deleveloped and our IT team worked with the developers at Avalara to build a custom integration. During integration we had a good experience. Sometimes it took a little longer to get a response, from the Avalara team, but we eventually always got the assistance that we needed.