Retail Solutions- Briefs
Now it's Wal-Mart.com
American retail icon Wal-Mart has bet its e-commerce future on the savvy of Silicon Valley, announcing it will join with blue-chip venture firm Accel Partners to spin off its online retailing operations into an independent company.
Wal-Mart says the new company, dubbed Wal-Mart.com, will work to speed up the development of its e-commerce site and lure more of its offline customers to the Net. The announcement comes on the heels of the long-delayed revamp of the Wal-Mart.com Web site on January 1.
Wal-Mart is the latest in a string of offline retailers that have bet on the success of their e-commerce operations and tapped into the technology know-how of Silicon Valley VCs.
Already companies such as Nordstrom, Kmart and others have joined forces with VC firms to create independent e-commerce companies.
The teaming up of the world's largest retailer with Accel is sure to make a splash in the e-commerce pool. If successful, the venture could eventually pose serious competition to online retail giant Amazon.com.
One of Australia's established online department stores, dstore (dstore. com.au), recently announced it has expanded its operations, including the appointment of a youthful management team. And The Evolution Group's Justshops.com.au is claimed to be Australia's first true virtual mall.
Canadians suffer an unexpected tax bite
If you bought software in Ontario, Canada after the spring of 1997, your purchase price may have just gone up by 8 per cent. Recently tabled final regulations describe the circumstances in which sales-tax exemptions are available. And in some cases, transactions that were presumed to be tax-exempt are not, and taxes may now be applied retroactively. How did all of this come about?
The current legislative scheme for taxing retail sales of computer software came into being May 7, 1997, when all computer software became classified as `tangible personal property'. Under this scheme, all retail sales of computer software are now subject to the eight per cent Ontario retail sales tax, with only limited exceptions. The vendor is required to collect the tax from the licensee and remit it to the government.
In general, the legislation exempts custom-developed software from tax, but what qualifies as such was left to be defined in regulations. This means that the Government of the day has the ability to make rules defining eligibility for exemption and to change those rules without having to return to the legislature for a change in the statute.