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Avalara Offers New Development Capabilities, APIs For Partners And Customers

The Avalara Integration Studio and new sales tax return and e-invoicing APIs, unveiled Monday, will help ISVs, development partners and customers build Avalara’s tax calculation and compliance functionality into their business and ecommerce solutions.

Tax compliance application developer Avalara today debuted a low-code development platform and APIs that will help customers and partners link Avalara’s software with third-party and custom-built applications.

The new Avalara Integration Studio expands opportunities for partners to build tax calculation and compliance integrations and experiences into business applications and ecommerce platforms, either through links to Avalara’s tax compliance automation software or by embedding Avalara into their solutions, according to the company.

“The big idea is, this allows developers to innovate around the Avalara platform,” said Greg Chapman, senior vice president of global partnerships and channels, in an exclusive interview with CRN. “This is targeted at developers at our customers and at our partners.”

Avalara, based in Seattle, develops tax calculation and compliance software that works with point-of-sale applications, ecommerce software and other systems used by online and brick-and-mortar merchants to automatically calculate and charge sales taxes on customer transactions.

The company’s AvaTax software, the core of the company’s Avalara Platform and Avalara Compliance Cloud systems, help merchants collect and report state and local sales and value-added taxes, goods and services taxes, excise taxes, lodging taxes, and taxes on food, beverages and alcohol. The company also provides software for managing business licenses, certificates and compliance documents.

Avalara’s software is already integrated with a number of commercial applications including Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite ERP applications, Shopify and Adobe Commerce (previously Magento) ecommerce software, Intuit QuickBooks accounting software and Zuora’s subscription management application. The company provides customers with Avalara Compliance Cloud applications through more than 1,200 partner integrations that manage the flow of data between Avalara’s platform and merchants’ transactional and financial systems.

But some businesses, especially larger ecommerce companies, have custom-built applications that they want to integrate with Avalara. And a growing number of ISV partners are looking for easier ways to integrate their applications with Avalara’s software or even embed it within their solutions, Chapman said.

BigCommerce, an ecommerce platform provider for approximately 60,000 online retailers and brands, is a long-time Avalara customer and partner, embedding Avalara’s tax calculation software within its ecommerce system. While Avalara often works directly with large merchants, BigCommerce provides Avalara with a way to reach SMB merchants by serving as a one-stop shop for all ecommerce functionality – including Avalara’s tax calculation and reporting technology.

BigCommerce has been advocating that Avalara take the steps of expanding the platform’s development capabilities and APIs, said Matt Crawford, general manager of shipping and tax at Big Commerce, in the interview.

“The Avalara partnership has been outstanding. But we release new features and new capabilities often,” Crawford said, adding that Avalara’s new development platform and APIs will help his company more quickly integrate new functionality into the BigCommerce system.

“We need to provide our services in a flexible way so that BigCommerce can quickly pivot their business in the ways they need to,” Avalara’s Chapman said.

The new Avalara Integration Studio is a low-code platform for integration development that the company said provides simple, customized workflows that developers can follow to build specific functions. Avalara Integration Studio simplifies the complexity around understanding tax context and Avalara APIs and allows non-technical people to assist with developing integrations.

The platform takes the approach of decoupling the front-end presentation layer of a compliance application from the back-end compliance functionality, a move the company said offers developers more flexibility and control for building tax compliance workflows into business applications.

The announcement also includes previews of two new APIs for developers that will extend the Avalara API portfolio beyond tax calculation and compliance document management.

The new e-Invoicing API allows partners to offer their customers the ability to trigger and manage e-invoicing workflows from within their applications. The Returns API provides partners with a way to natively embed tax return workflows for customers within their applications. Avalara said it is seeking feedback from developer and partner communities about the APIs prior to their commercial release.

“I think this is just another example of how Avalara is bringing new functionality to us,” BigCommerce’s Crawford said. “It’s easier to integrate Avalara and it’s easier to control the customer experience once you’re integrated and you can provide that functionality to a merchant.”

Crawford noted that states and local governments today are constantly looking for new tax revenue opportunities and ways to collect them, creating ongoing challenges for merchants. Or they are making changes to taxes and tax rates: Several states, for example, including Connecticut, Georgia and Maryland, have recently suspended gas tax collections in light of surging gas prices.

“The requirements for something like Avalara keep getting more and more important,” Crawford said.

Avalara is also providing additional resources for developers including the Avalara Developer Portal, Avalara Developer Blog and Avalara NEXT – the latter an event for developers responsible for building global tax compliance into commerce and business operations.

“Developers are critical partners to Avalara. We want to make it as easy as possible for developers to build integrations, compliance experiences, and brand-new compliance applications using the innovation and expertise from Avalara,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy, Avalara chief product officer, in a statement. “The capabilities announced today are the next step in our journey of learning from, working with, and supporting the developer community.”

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