Amazon seller Dimitris Paraskevopoulos’ story20. February 2020
Dimitris Paraskevopoulos is a seasoned Greek entrepreneur who has been active in business since 1992. In 2019, he decided to merge his food, health and cosmetics business with his Estonian company, Gourmante Baltics OÜ, which he founded using e-Residency.
When it came time to establish his new company, Dimitris was looking for speed and simplicity, along with access to online tools which could help him efficiently manage his company from abroad.
Gourmante Baltics OÜ sells health and cosmetics products on Amazon and, using a distributor, Mediterranean food products in Estonian retail outlets. Dimitris’ products are produced outside Estonia in different parts of the world, including the US. Overall, Dimitris enjoys selling on Amazon as an e-Resident:
“In my experience, Amazon’s online business is a perfect fit with the online e-Residency environment. This is primarily because of the web-based tools offered by the programme as a whole, in addition to individual service providers such as e-Residency Hub.”
Estonia vs Greece
Comparing Estonia to Greece, Dimitris mentions that, while the process and speed of setting up a company in Greece has improved recently with the introduction of IKE (a type of Private Limited Company), accounting costs are still relatively high compared to Estonia. In Greece, most entrepreneurs pay at least €350-400 per month for accounting services. And in the case of Amazon sellers, accounting costs are significantly higher. Plus, legal and auditing fees in Greece amount to several thousand euros annually, whereas in Estonia they are typically much lower.
Banking poses further challenges. In Greece, opening multi-currency accounts is limited by local law. It is also impossible to connect a Greek bank account to an Amazon seller’s account, and exchange rates create additional costs which can often be quite significant. Finally, service fees in traditional Greek banks are widespread and very high (e.g. fees are charged for all incoming and outgoing payments, and even for simply checking an account balance). Compared to Estonian banks, which offer online services and reasonable fees, the difference is clear.
Taxation is another differentiator between Estonia and Greece. Greece imposes a 2% tax on all online advertising (no such tax exists in Estonia), and Greek tax requirements force entrepreneurs to maintain a separate receipt printer which is directly connected to the Greek tax authorities and which prints receipts the same day that sales are generated. For Amazon sellers, this requirement creates an unnecessary obstacle for smooth business operations — especially considering that online sales can be generated around the clock, including weekends and holidays.
Taking into account the above differences between Greece and Estonia, it seems clear that online access to service providers — as well as the flexibility and attention to customer’s needs that such service providers offer — make Estonia an easy choice when selecting where to incorporate your business.
Dimitris has chosen LHV as his banking partner in Estonia. In addition he is also actively using two large payment service providers — TransferWise and Payoneer. He describes his experiences as follows:
“I would particularly highlight the importance of multi-currency payment solutions for anyone selling on Amazon. If your income is generated in different currencies across various Amazon marketplaces (in our case: EUR, USD, and GBP), the ability to keep several currencies in your account and make payments from these respective currencies saves a lot of time and money while managing the company.
Payoneer is specifically designed for Amazon sellers. When your sales revenue reaches a certain level, you can start receiving advance financing, which can be important for cash flow management. TransferWise also offers strong value through competitive exchange rates. We use both of these service providers in our daily business.”
Web-based accounting platform of e-Residency Hub
According to Dimitris, using e-Residency Hub’s platform called Envoice to handle his purchase and sales invoices is very easy. It is so easy, in fact, that he has chosen to do it himself rather than asking an assistant to handle it.
Amazon sales accounting is handled by e-Residency Hub, which covers all bookkeeping and sales data. For VAT reporting outside Estonia, Dimitris uses Amazon VAT services. Dimitris’ personal e-Residency Hub accountant can extract data from his Amazon seller’s account and Amazon’s VAT service to ensure the company’s Annual Report includes all global VAT payments.
“For transactions outside of Amazon, creating sales invoices in Envoice is very easy. Raising a new invoice only takes a few clicks, and this is especially true for existing clients. For purchase invoices, it is equally simple — I only need to forward the invoices to my custom Envoice email address, and my personal e-Residency Hub accountant handles the rest.
The mobile app is also something that I frequently use for receipts and paper documents. Even when I have to manage more documents than usual, the work required from me is never more than one hour per week. By giving my accountant viewing access to my company’s bank accounts, I save the trouble of having to send monthly bank statements to her, which reduces my workload even further.”
Working with e-Residency Hub
Dimitris describes his experience working with e-Residency Hub as follows:
“At first, I made my decision solely based on the e-Residency Hub website. Setting up my company online through e-Residency Hub was very easy and convenient. The whole process took only a few days.
Over the past years I have had the luxury of meeting the e-Residency Hub team face-to-face several times to discuss the specific needs of my business. The possibility to hold such personal meetings (either in person or via Skype) was also very important for me.
All interactions since then have been very positive and extremely pleasant. I have always received quick answers to my accounting or tax-related questions. The opportunity to meet with the team during my visits to Tallinn has provided additional value. They even helped me find my business partner for trade financing!”