The inception of the GST marks an exciting period for Australian technology resellers. Whilst focus has predominantly been placed on the "big bang" come July 1, the channel should not assume that GST-related sales will rapidly diminish as this passes.
Overseas experience has shown that the implementation of GST is a sustainable sales catalyst, lasting over several years as less-progressive businesses slowly embrace the necessary GST-ready computerised accounting systems.
I think the true test will come in October when the majority of small businesses are faced with the task of calculating and compiling the information required to complete their first Business Activity Statement (BAS). As Australian businesses come to realise the work involved in manually preparing their BAS they will embrace the various GST-ready computerised business solutions on the market. This realisation may not hit many businesses until later in 2000 or beyond.
Despite the inevitable fear and uncertainty sparked by change, the introduction of the GST can be seen as a positive influence on you and your customers' businesses in the sense that it encourages business owners to take a closer look at the inner workings of their business and streamline processes wherever possible.
Thousands of SMEs are in need of assistance in updating and adapting their business systems in accordance with this unfamiliar reshaping of the new tax system. Amidst this maelstrom is an opportunity for resellers to position themselves as true GST solution providers.
Many businesses are totally reliant on their accountant to process their accounts. In the GST world, where tax is no longer something businesses only have to worry about once a year, this could prove expensive. Tax has traditionally been considered an area only to be handled by accountants, but this is no longer the case. We expect further waves of businesses to choose to computerise in order to reduce their fees by relieving their accountant of low-level data entry work. Don't allow you or your staff to be intimidated by the GST. It's not too late to educate yourself thoroughly on the GST and familiarise yourself with the leading business software packages on the market.
GST has extended the window of opportunity for technology resellers in the field of computerised point-of-sale (POS) solutions. The perplexing tracking, tracing, payment and processing required under the new tax system has resulted in POS systems fast becoming a necessity, as opposed to a luxury, for serious Australian retailers. Various major software developers have released comprehensive POS packages priced around $1000 that will dramatically reduce the GST paperwork nightmare and allow retailers to take complete control of their business. In short, a quality POS solution will handle GST "behind the scenes" so retailers can focus on their business instead of worrying about tax collecting.
In the lead up to GST, much like the response to sales opportunities generated by Y2K, the channel has witnessed myriad GST-related products rapidly emerging on the market in recent months. Some are of a more questionable nature than others. Supporting and supplying only established GST-ready products and brands is paramount. Endorse only the technology suppliers who are prepared to face the continual challenge of adjusting to legislation changes. Identify and eliminate the products that are surfacing purely to "cash-in" on the GST, only to disappear from the market in three months time. Resellers who provide their clients with "quick buck" solutions cannot hope to develop and retain a repeat-customer base.
The organisation behind each product is as important as the product itself.
Ongoing tax reform will require the long-term support and commitment of the organisation to provide timely and localised updates created specifically for the Australian GST.
The lead up to this complete reshaping of the tax system has seen a boost in hardware and software sales for retailers. Your support of committed technology suppliers during and beyond this period will spawn a long-term sustainable partnership with your client base.
Craig Winkler is CEO of accounting software vendor MYOB Australia. The company welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org