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“Customer obsession”: How OFX helps AVASK’s online seller clients successfully expand to international markets

In 2020 when many businesses had to shut down because of the pandemic, AVASK co-founder, tax director and co-author of The Online Hustle: The Ultimate E-commerce Selling Guide, Melanie Shabangu put her entrepreneur hat on and asked: How could we still support ecommerce businesses? 

Melanie attributes this ability to quickly pivot to her “customer obsession.” It’s the same drive that made her jump at an opportunity in 2012, when a contact at Amazon tapped her to help sellers expand to the European market, even when she had little experience in the ecommerce industry. And it’s the same quality that she says she looks for in strategic partners like OFX.

We wanted to partner with a company like OFX that embodies the same ethos as AVASK.

This hunger to support entrepreneurs combined with her accounting expertise has helped propel AVASK from a one-person consultancy into a leading global accounting firm for ecommerce businesses. 

How AVASK helps online sellers

AVASK provides bookkeeping and international tax services, as well as financial strategies to help e-commerce businesses in more than 50 countries cut costs, grow revenue and expand to international markets. 

According to Melanie, some of the most important questions that ecommerce businesses looking to expand internationally should ask are:

  • Do I have sufficient funding for my inventory?
  • Do I know what the consumers really want in the country I’m expanding to? 
  • Do I know the rules and regulations in the market I want to expand to?

Breaking into a new market is no easy feat. “Have your pricing strategy in order and prepare your cost analysis,” says Melanie. 

Melanie also advises ecommerce sellers to factor in changing exchange rates as part of their financial plan. Without a currency strategy in place, doing business in multiple currencies can negatively affect your cash flow and profit margins.

“In the UK, you will be selling in sterling, in Europe you will be selling in euros. Those are two different currencies. So you could be losing money in between when you’re transferring your funds from the UK into Europe or from Europe into the US.”

For US-based sellers who are used to selling and buying solely in USD, this can be quite an adjustment.

AVASK tax director Melanie Shabangu shares the top challenges faced by online sellers who want to expand internationally

Why AVASK partnered with OFX

One of AVASK’s goals is to become a one-stop financial shop for online sellers. In partnership with OFX, AVASK offers their clients a better and faster way to move their funds globally through the OFX Global Currency Account, which allows sellers to send, receive and hold multiple currencies in one simple dashboard. 

Melanie says one of the main benefits that sellers get when working with AVASK is the 24/7 access to OFX’s team of currency experts. This benefit comes with no additional cost to AVASK. 

We are in a position to call on the OFX team to support our own clients. We know when we refer a client, somebody is going to speak to that client. They’re not just going to be getting automated messages. To us, that’s very important because that pretty much aligns with the AVASK way of working.

Melanie says AVASK loves to work with technology when it makes sense. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that there is that personal touch, there is that customer obsession that goes hand in hand when supporting our clients.”

Specialist service isn’t the only benefit for AVASK clients. With no or low fees* and preferential exchange rates, clients save on every recurring overseas payment or receivable, and get more of their money when they convert their international revenue to their home currency. 

With consultants based worldwide – including Europe, US, Canada, UK, Australia, Mexico, China – AVASK leans on local know-how to set up their clients for success wherever they are selling. 

“Having the available teams on the ground in the countries where the sellers are actually selling their products — that’s what makes us definitely different.”

With this global model in place, AVASK also uses OFX to pay consultants and move funds between their offices at bank-beating exchange rates. 

Why ecommerce accounting firm AVASK uses OFX as a currency exchange provider

*No OFX fees for FX transfers for US, EU, UK or Singapore clients. A small OFX fee will be charged for HK, NZ, AU, Canadian clients. For example $15 OFX fee for FX transfers under CAD$10,000. Occasionally third-party intermediary banks may deduct a fee from your transfer before paying your recipient. This fee may vary, and OFX receives no portion of it.