This week in our summary of the latest ecommerce news, Amazon.co.uk and eBay have announced that they will be closing accounts for sellers who HMRC believes are not paying correct VAT, and a new British marketplace launches. Find out everything you need to know about how these updates will affect your ecommerce business.
Amazon takes measures to enforce VAT compliance
Amazon.co.uk has announced that it may be required to close seller accounts if HMRC informs Amazon that the seller is in breach of UK VAT regulations. Earlier this year, HMRC released a policy paper on its new powers to tackle online sellers who aren’t paying the right amount of VAT. HMRC is now allowed to gather data from business intermediaries who facilitate online transactions and electronic payment providers - these include marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, as well as payment providers like PayPal. It also means that HMRC can hold marketplaces jointly liable if sellers aren't avoiding paying VAT.
Responding to the changes in VAT legislation, Amazon.co.uk has released a statement on Seller Central: “HMRC is tracking VAT compliance, and under UK law, Amazon is required to disclose to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seller account data on request if HMRC believes a seller may not be compliant. Under the new legislation, HMRC can now inform websites such as Amazon Marketplaces if it believes a seller is in breach of VAT regulations and require that we stop the seller from selling through Amazon.co.uk and that we remove the account.”
Find out more about HMRC’s new powers to combat VAT avoidance here, and find out when and how you should register for VAT.
eBay announcement on VAT compliance for overseas sellers
eBay has also announced that it will be taking measures, including permanent suspension, to ensure that all sellers are paying the correct amount of VAT.
In the announcement, eBay said: "We work closely with HMRC to ensure our sellers comply with their VAT obligations. If we are informed by HMRC that a seller is not complying with these requirements, then we will take appropriate action, up to and including permanent suspension.
"We have already contacted hundreds of overseas sellers to notify and educate them on the need to comply with the law and we will continue to remind seller of their obligations."
Read the full announcement from eBay here.
New marketplace, OnBuy, launches
OnBuy, a new British marketplace, launched to sellers on 7 November, 2016. The new marketplace was first started in 2013, but disagreements amongst shareholders meant its full launch was delayed. Now sellers are being invited to sign up to OnBuy, with a consumer launch planned for early 2017.
To sell on OnBuy you have to pay a monthly subscription fee of £49 with no commission charged on top. Alternatively, you can pay £89 per month for an account management subscription, which includes a dedicated account manager, help with listings, access to Featured Opportunities and Advertisement. Payments will be taken using Stripe, which charges 1.4% + 20p per transaction. Sellers that join OnBuy before February 2017 will also receive £500 credit to have their products featured as Boosted Products.
Find out more about OnBuy here.
New system status and community boards for eBay.com
For UK sellers using eBay.com, a new community and seller center has been launched, which includes updated community discussion boards, a unified seller news portal, and an improved system status board. The new system status board provides real time, automated updates on any problems or technical issues with eBay. The community boards now have a recognition programme with ranks and badges for valuable contributions, personalised content, and more engagement from eBay employees. The Announcement Page and eBay for Business blog will now be on the Community page as well, so all of eBay’s announcements can be found in one place.
Do you use eBay’s community forums? How does it help you run your eBay business?
Find out more about the changes and updates to eBay.com’s site here.
Instagram is testing a ‘Shop now’ feature
Instagram is starting to test a ‘Shop now’ feature with 20 US-based retailers. Posts with the ‘Shop now’ function will have a ‘tap to view’ icon in the bottom left hand corner of the picture. When shoppers tap the icon a tag will show on the products available to buy in the post with their prices, they can then tap on the tag for a product and it will take them to a detailed view with a ‘Shop now’ link below the picture. Initially, the new feature will only be accessible to a selected group of Instagram users in the US but there are already plans to develop it to facilitate product recommendations, and enable users to save content for later.
Find out more about the new Instagram ‘Shop now’ feature.