Solar power has always been in the eye of the global economic market. More and more businesses understand that the more sustainable the business practices are, the bigger the response from the customers is.

In Japan solar power is being used more and more on farmland across Japan not only to grow crops but also with the purpose to generate power. It allows for farming to create a two-part source of income and efficient use of farmland.

Furthermore, the increase of solar power use on Japan’s farmlands helps the Japanese government’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Of course, this sustainable generating of power doesn’t come without its issues.

At the Farmdo Group in Gunma prefecture, solar panels installed on top of greenhouses have been generating electricity since 2014, while mizuna potherb mustard, arugula, and lettuce grow inside. Covering an area of 48 hectares, producing power to supply about 10,000 households.

Under the “feed-in tariff” system, power companies purchase electricity generated from renewable energy sources at a price determined by the government over a period of 20 years. The Farmdo Group expects to recoup its solar-related investment in seven to eight years. “The additional revenue from selling electricity helps stabilize agricultural operations, and lower the barriers to starting a farm,” a group official said. Installing solar panels to the portion of agricultural land must be converted to non-agricultural use and support equipment must be set up.

Installing solar panels to the portion of agricultural land must be converted to non-agricultural use and support equipment must be set up.

As stated by the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry of Japan the total number of permits for such conversions grew from 96 in fiscal 2013 to 1,992 in fiscal 2018. Over that span, the amount of agricultural land apportioned for solar power generation increased from 19 hectares to 560 hectares.

The Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association estimates that by 2050, about 30% of land used for solar power generation will be agriculture-related.

“It is important to balance agriculture and power generation,” said Takashi Nozu, an associate professor at Waseda University. “It is also necessary to carefully consider how to increase profitability, given the initial investment and maintenance costs involved.”



Foreign Online Sellers in Japan

A “Foreign Online Seller” is a person or company outside of Japan selling and shipping to online buyers in Japan.

Foreign Online Sellers cannot fully comply with Japan import and tax rules for importing and selling products in Japan. To resolve this, the government of Japan has implemented new rules for foreign online sellers to ensure sales and import tax compliance.

Declared Import Value:

Online sellers with no company established in Japan must declare the online sale value of their imported product to be the same as the import value on their shipping invoice. Japan Customs will apply Duty and Consumer Import Tax based on the online selling price. Japan Customs also requires supporting documentation in the form of a Foreign Online Seller Report (FOSR) to be part of the Shipping Invoice. This report displays your store name or website, inventory, and selling price of all products being imported to Japan.

To ensure Sellers do not undervalue their import, Japan Customs will conduct a selling price search to ensure your selling is within an acceptable margin of the same or similar products. If your Declared Value/Selling price is below the acceptable margin, Japan Customs will apply a Fair Market import value to your shipment. You will then be charged import and duty tax based on the revised value.

During the import process, Japan Customs will:

  1. Review your Store/website and Product selling price to confirm it is the same as the import value.
  2. Check your pricing history to ensure the pricing was not recently lowered to avoid import tax
  3. Monitor your selling price to ensure your pricing does not increase excessively after import.

Sales Tax: Foreign Online Sellers

Profit Tax in Japan: all companies must comply with Profit Tax laws. To claim wholesale, purchasing, import tax, or manufacturing costs on your commercial/shipping invoice, you must sell (transferring) the product to a distributor or subsidiary (another company who will resell the products or to your subsidiary) in Japan.

  • Online sellers with no company established in Japan, cannot comply with Japan profit tax laws. Therefore, Japan Customs and Tax have implemented import requirements for online sellers. Online sellers must declare the online sale value of their imported product and pay the Duty and Taxes based on that value.
  • Japan Customs has become very strict with online sellers. Imported products will be stopped. Japan Customs will review your online account to compare your sale price to your declared value. If they do not match, you will be charged additional taxes and possible penalty fees. Multiple infractions (failure to comply) can result in your company being restricted to import products into Japan.
  • Do not modify your online pricing during import. Japan Customs has access to online seller pricing history. If Japan Customs believes you have intentionally changed your online pricing to avoid taxes, you may be restricted from all future imports.
  • As a policy, COVUE IOR services are fully compliant with Japan Customs and Tax laws. COVUE does not accept shipments that do not comply with Japan import and Tax rules and regulations.

Want to Export your Products to Japan?

Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best.

At COVUE IOR, we seek to make the import process simple, compliant, and accessible to all sellers of all sizes. COVUE is not an ACP. COVUE is the direct IOR: we own our license, and our compliance support is in-house. We trusted by 000’s of Sellers and Shipping providers.

How Outsourcing Staffing Services can help your business reduce cost

Employees- whether permanent or part-time, are a company’s best asset. They play an important role in your business’ success. You want to ensure you are hiring the right people to join your team. Outsourcing Staffing Services is one way to ensure this. One of the best features of outsourced staff is its scalability. You can reduce recruitment costs by partnering with dedicated staffing companies that are able to utilize strategies, get access to better talent, train and retain them. Here’s how dedicated staffing can help you reduce your costs.

  1. Shared Risks

During economic uncertainly, recruiting demands can suddenly drop or spike up. Outsourcing dedicated staffing can enable your company to pass along the cost to the service provider.

  1. Improved Effectiveness of Recruitment

Acquiring new employee burdens your internal resources – sourcing, screening, short-listing candidates, interviews and negotiating offers, employee turnover can put stress on resources. It takes time to find the qualified candidate for your company. Having a job position unfilled can reduce productivity and lead to lost opportunities. Outsourcing staffing services provide you faster hiring with the ability to deploy on-time.

  1. Workforce Flexibility

One of the advantages of using dedicated outsourcing staffing is that it’s easier to support long- or short-term projects while minimizing onboarding cost. You can fill your current needs without any commitment of continuous employment.
Talent acquisition can be a costly process. But partnering with a Dedicated Staffing Outsourcing company can make the best of your recruitment costs

Talent acquisition can be a costly process. But partnering with an Outsourcing company can make the best of your recruitment costs.

Looking for Dedicated staffing solutions? We got you covered! COVUE offers the most extensive and cost-effective Best-in-Class dedicated staffing solutions in the industry.

Get a quote now

Got questions? We’re happy to help you. Contact us now!

Use of Inside Sales to Drive Service Revenue Performance

Post-sale service support revenue has become an important element of Top Line growth in many organizations. The revenue annuity stream it provides can be highly predictive, reliable and generate margins exceeding 30%. Examples of these revenue streams include:

· Service Contracts

· Preventive Maintenance Support

· On-Demand Service Support

· Installation Support

· Service Parts

· Technical Assistance/Call support

· Application Support

· IT Support

· Equipment Usage/Transactional Support

The following discussion will focus on use of Inside Sales to drive Service Contract Revenue and considerations for implementation of the function in an organization.

In most cases, Service contracts are attached to specific equipment or systems. Contract types will vary based on coverage options. It is important to use a formalized process to determine types of contract offerings. Offerings should be based on the Voice of Customer data and strategic intent of the service business in your organization. All contract types can be sold effectively through an Inside Sales operation.

There are (4) key process elements required for an Inside Sales operation:

1. Call Preparation

2. Call execution

3. Administration Follow-up

4. Closing

Each process element will have varied steps depending on Sales Call Types. Following describes the Sales Call Types and the advantage of using an Inside Sales function for execution:

· New Contracts (Point of Sale) – The best time to sell a service contract on new equipment purchases is at point of sale. In this case, many companies will offer extended warranties at discounted pricing for terms up to five (5) years. The Sales representative will introduce the offering. However, the sales representative is often not the best person to close the business. They can run the risk of losing the sale due to perceived added cost or may not have the knowledge to engage in a conversation to put the customer in the right contract type. This is where Inside Sales can help. These representatives are trained to understand customer requirements and the correct contract types based on budget and strategy of the customer. They can follow-up at a predetermined point with the customer based on input of Product Sales. This redirects the responsibility of contract sales to Inside Sales allowing the Sales Representative to focusing on the next capital sale.

· New Contracts (not previously secured) – It is difficult to follow-up on all equipment that does not have an attached contract. Often, Product Sales lack the time required to for follow up. Inside Sales is an effective tool for this task. They can maintain the unattached equipment data base and schedule follow-up calls accordingly. In many cases, the sale can be made over the phone. If not, they can team up with Product Sales and/or the Field Service Engineer for customer follow-up. It is an efficient cost effective alternative to On-site visits when customer interest may not be fully engaged.

· Contract Renewals – This is a highly effective use of an Inside Sales organization. The common term of Service Contract is one year. Each contract needs follow-up prior to expiration. Inside Sales has the ability to schedule follow-up calls at predetermined intervals to ensure the contract is renewed on time. The Inside Sales team can review service history and recommend alternate contract options that best fit the customer requirements. BIC contract renewal rates run 85 – 90%.

· Upselling – Environment and Equipment usage can vary throughout the year. A customer may need to move into a contract type better suited for their current situation. Inside Sales can confirm Service History prior to the contract renewal process and suggest the best service contract option. Inside Sales leverages their experience and data for the upsell, driving increased revenue and improved customer satisfaction.

Another advantage of an Inside Sales function is the ability to gain Market & Customer Intelligence. Inside Sale are engaging in customer contact daily. Leveraging this contact to obtain customer feedback is highly effective.

Implementation of an Inside Sales operation can be costly and time consuming. Organizations without an Inside Sales department typically lack the resources to plan the necessary tasks and strategy. In some cases, an organization with and Inside Sales team delivering suboptimal performance, may not have established an effective strategy or lack proper focus. There are excellent outsourcing options available for Inside Sales that have the expertise and technology needed for Best-in-Class performance. Investigate the options available prior to implementation of your plan.

Inside Sales is an effective and efficient way to sell Service contracts, improve attachment rates, and gather market and customer intelligence. Outsourcing options exist to reduce implementation costs and improve performance. Expect increased Service Revenue as a result of these efforts.

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When to Consider Outsourcing Service Support

The importance of building a World Class Post Sale Support operation is critical to the success of your business. Key factors to achieve success include:

• Focus on the Customer
• Commitment to Service Excellence
• Running your Service operation as a Profit Centre vs. Cost Centre
• Utilization of Technology to improve productivity
• Investment in your people

What happens when the financial commitment is limited in your organization? What if your Business strategy is inconsistent with a Best-in-Class (BIC) support model? Does that mean Customer Support and Satisfaction will suffer?

There are few organizations with the resources to invest unencumbered in all areas of their operations. Compromises must be made to achieve balance. Corporate strategy as well business conditions will drive allocation for investment. Recently, considerable focus has been placed on investment in R&D and Sales & Marketing. This is logical as these areas drive top line growth.

The investment to build a World Class Service Support operation can be costly as well as time consuming. Competing for the needed resources can be challenging when economic conditions are less certain. Traditionally, this leads to decisions that force service operations to be treated as a cost centre. Such an approach can lead to less than optimal customer satisfaction metrics thus, driving down customer retention and loyalty. It’s important to adjust internal strategies to optimize investment and resources without losing sight of the BIC support model.

Often, business strategy does not adequately address Post Sale Service Support. Product Development, Marketing and Financial and Operational improvement is more commonly emphasized in strategic plans, leaving service support buried in operations. A balanced scorecard approach to drive strategy has been a popular tool to emphasize all facets of an organization’s strategy. Customer Support options should be considered equal when developing strategy.

Will Customer Satisfaction suffer without proper investment and strategic focus? History shows Yes. Businesses need a balance of investment, strategy and focus to ensure customer loyalty and retention. There are options available that can help when investment and/or strategic intent are not adequate with a BIC support model.

One option to consider is an outsourcing approach to service delivery. Traditionally, organizations have considered outsourcing as a last resort option. There is a perception of risk with loss of quality, brand and the customer control. These are valid points and need to be taken under serious consideration. However, many organizations don’t have the choice nor the financial wherewithal and time required to build a BIC model. When managed properly, outsourcing can be an alternative to achieve success.

There are outsourcing options for most functions of a Service Operation. Typical outsourced functions include Customer Support, Technical Assistance, Service Sales, Field and Depot support and Logistics. Outsourcing can be leveraged to augment capacity or provide total support in markets where resources are better focused on top line growth. The key to a successful outsource program relies on that selected provider to drive a BIC model delivery and their ability to implement support around your expectations.

Advantages to Outsourcing:

Provides ability to add service capacity without the addition of internal headcount. Many companies maintain tight control of headcount during difficult times. Outsourcing service functions allows headcount allocation to be focused in more critical areas such as Sales, Marketing or R & D.
Expense reduction. Labour and overhead are typically reduced when utilizing outsourcing partners due in part to their focus on Service Delivery and ability to capture synergies.
The advantage of tapping into the technical expertise of outsourcing providers based on the varied client and equipment base they support. This can be leveraged to quickly bring services online.
Outsourcing providers who focus solely on BIC service delivery afford their clients the ability to draw on their expertise to improve service operations.

Lastly, it’s important to consider how this will impact your people. Outsourcing need not be contradictory. Depending on the extent of your outsourcing requirement, many employees will remain with the business. When leveraged for added capacity, the additional support will improve workload requirements. Employees can be redeployed to other productive tasks such as Service Sales, Customer Interface, Operations or, trained for career development opportunities in other disciplines. When properly managed, outsourcing can be a positive for the employees involved. Consider the options and keep employee satisfaction in mind when navigating the process.

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Importance of After-Hours Call Center in your business

You may have set a regular schedule for your business but your customers have not. Your business does not end just because you have closed for the day or it’s a holiday. Depending on the business, there can be innumerable situations when customers might need help at odd hours. Consider an instance where a customer needs to clarify something about your product or is operation. Maybe they operate at night or prefer to handle certain function during off hours. Today, with the advent of the internet and advancements in technology, there is no reason your customer should not be able access support. A proactive business would have to ensure that all calls are attended to promptly.

Here are some important benefits of having after-hours call center service

Happy Customers, Happy Business

Issues and inquiries regarding a product or service usually come at an unexpected time and customers demand answers now not later. Diverting your customer’ calls to a voicemail can be frustrating for some. When their needs are not met at the moment, they need it, it may reflect poorly on your company’s dedication to customer service, tarnishing your brand. Having 24/7 or After-Hours call center support shows your customers that you have their back any time day or night. Statistics show, a satisfied customer, will result in repeat sales.

Building Customer Loyalty

Why did you buy the mobile phone brand you have today? When choosing a product for device, whether it be a mobile phone, a medical, scientific, robotic device or just a simple blender for your home, quality, durability and customer support play a major role in the decision-making process. No product is perfect and issues will arise. Happy customers are more likely to be loyal customers when support services are available 24/7. After-Hours call center services pave the way to brand loyalty.

Increase Sales

Loyal customers can be an advocate of your business too. As an advocate they tend to refer it to their relative, friends or colleagues. In that way, you will surely have a sale. Aside from that, when you receive a call from a customer in need, you have captured their attention. Use this as an opportunity to recommend other products and services they might need. Imagine what having agents who proactively help your customers and encourage them to try other products can do for your business.

Establish a strong brand reputation

When you have won your customer’s trust, they will not hesitate to recommend you to their circle of contacts. Your business will have a positive reputation of being compassionate towards customers, professional and reliable. Your business’ growth is sure to follow once you have proven to your customers that you are always there for them 24/7/365.

Creating a unique stand point

If you want to distinguish your business from the rest of your competitors, stand out by offering your customers dependable 24/7 customer service.

Your business has a greater chance of success with an After-Hours Call Center Service than without.

If you find yourself in a dilemma when it comes to after-hours calls, we got you!
COVUE provides low cost fix pricing solutions for After-hours and holiday call center support. Our services easily integrate into your current system.

How to Select an Outsourced Service Provider

When considering outsourcing options for various functions of your Service Operation, it’s critical to select a provider that can not only meet your technical requirements, but one that best fits your corporate culture. This will be essential when building or maintaining a Best-in-Class (BIC) post sale support operation.

The first step in selection of your outsourcing partner will be to clearly identify the strategic intent of the outsourcing decision:

• Is this a cost reduction decision only?
• Is the decision based on capacity/headcount constraints?
• Is this a short or long range decision?
• Is the intent to maintain current operations or improve them?
• Is the intent to drive toward a BIC Service Support Operation?

In most cases, the strategic intent will comprise of one or more of the questions. Once the answers have been carefully considered, the process of selecting your provider can begin.

• Look for a provider with a total focus on Service Delivery and free of any potential conflict of interest. Many providers are involved in vertical businesses that could distract from the mission at hand – BIC Service Delivery. The best provider will be one where service support is their only business.

• Avoid use of companies that provide Third Party Service (alternative to OEM support) or asset management services to end-customers. Such practices pose a conflict of interest and can lead to loss of end customer relationship and/or intellectual property (IP).

• Ensure your provider remains “Swiss Neutral” across all technical platforms and business segments. Confidentiality is a key to a successful service support partnership. Non-Disclosure Agreements help protect confidentiality but cannot completely guarantee IP security. Investigate and validate that systemic processes are place to ensure IP cannot be compromised and that the provider is committed to IP protection. When possible, select a provider that has implemented a robust security program within their QMS.

• Thoroughly investigate references. The best way to identify an outsource provider is by talking with current and past customers. Do they “practice what they preach”?

• Choose a provider with an experienced management team. Do they have experience implementing and directing BIC service operations locally, nationally and/or globally? Ensure their philosophy is synergistic to your model?

• Is the provider flexible? Can services be customized to your business? Many providers will attempt to force fit your business into their infrastructure. Flexibility will be critical to a successful implementation. Other considerations should include: ability transfer employees, type of information systems utilized and ability to bring services online expeditiously.

The choice of an outsourcing provider could be the most important decision you make on the journey to BIC Post Sale Support and superior customer satisfaction. The provider will have direct contact with your customers. Ensure stakeholders are involved in the decision making process. View the provider as an extension of your business. A trusting, secure and flexible relationship will be critical to success.

Got questions? We’re happy to help you. Contact us now!