Amazon is expanding at lightning speed. Just a few days ago, it launched its retail operations in Sweden and a few months ago, Amazon was launched in Saudi Arabia. As an Amazon seller, you might also be tempted to branch out your business and go international, but at the same time, you might be a little skeptical. One of the key things to succeed is knowing how to corner the nuances of each market – be it writing the copy for listing or handling the finances. To make your global expansion easier, we have created this definitive guide that contains all the information you will need to sell your products internationally.
What is Amazon Global Selling?
Amazon Global Selling program enables sellers to leverage Amazon’s brand name and reach millions of customers worldwide. By selling only in the US or UK, you are limiting the reach of your product, but the Amazon Global Selling program allows you to expand your business worldwide and build a large customer base. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that using Amazon’s global selling program is the most hassle-free way to break into international markets.
Benefits of selling internationally:
#1: You can expand your customer reach: This one’s pretty obvious. New marketplace means more customers, increased sales and increased profits. And considering that Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce destinations in the world, the traffic and reach your product will get is way better than what they will get in your own store. The image below explains it all:
Image reference: Wakeup Data
#2: Amazon makes it easier than ever: You are already selling in one of the Amazon marketplaces, so you know how things go around on Amazon. Besides, Amazon offers many tools that make fulfillment, finances, etc., even more straightforward. You can also manage everything from a single unified account, so everything is always easily accessible.
#3: You can establish your brand quickly: The best thing about selling on Amazon is that your products will be listed on the world’s most trusted e-commerce website, so you won’t have to invest your resources in building up name recognition or gaining customer’s trust.
#4: The costs are quite reasonable: We are not saying it’s very cheap, but when you compare it with the cost of establishing your own store in the international marketplace, Amazon’s fees are a steal. You are more likely to earn better ROI when you leverage Amazon for global expansion.
How to sell internationally on Amazon?
While taking your business internationally might sound tempting, it’s not as straightforward as simply deciding the marketplace and listing the product. Although most of what you do in your local marketplace will carry over to international marketplaces, you will have to tackle each country individually. As with any other new venture, there are several challenges and hurdles you will face, such as shipping restrictions, product regulations, language barriers, taxes, customs and more. Don’t fret; organizing your thoughts and following the procedure makes everything easier. Our Amazon seller consultants have created this 6-step guide that will help you get started the right way.
Step 1: Understand Amazon’s international marketplace
Before anything else, the first thing you need to do is choose which Amazon marketplace you should sell in. Amazon operates in 14 global sites spanning some of the largest online markets in the world. Here are all of them:
Some of these marketplaces are well established (.com, .co.uk, .in) while some are newly launched (.ae, .au). Both have their own perks and pitfalls. Selling in a well-established marketplace will give you a huge customer base, which is accompanied by cut-throat competition, while selling in a newly launched marketplace means low competition and low site visitors. It is totally your call, but we would always recommend selling in a newly launched marketplace because you get to establish your brand in a marketplace that is going to attract a lot of potential traffic but at present is not so crowded.
If you are still unsure, ask yourself the following questions to make a confident decision:
- Are your products acceptable for international shipping? Shipping regulations vary country by country, so it’s essential to research before listing all the products from your catalog. For example, you cannot ship products that contain lithium batteries in Germany, or you cannot sell gun-shaped toys in India. Make sure you know intricate yet critical rules before you list/ship/sell any product.
- What is the market like? Culture and market don’t just vary from country to country; sometimes, cultures are different in every state. What you feel is normal in the USA might not be in other countries and the product which might be a hit in the USA can hardly have any demand in the UK.
- What are the major festivals and shopping holidays? Holiday sales are one of the most significant contributors to the overall profits, so it’s important to consider them before moving forward. Just like culture and people, international festivals and holidays are different too. In the USA, the UK and similar marketplaces, we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas sales. But these sale don’t even exist in India.
The key takeaway here is that before jumping on the international selling bandwagon, do your homework; it’s a big decision and you are allowed to take time.
Step 2: Register a new seller account
There are two approaches – you can either register your account under North American or European Unified Account or create an individual marketplace account. In North American or European Unified Account, you can register and pay for one participating country and get access to other marketplaces for free. For example, if your seller accounts in the United Kingdom, you will get access to German, Italian and French marketplaces at no extra cost except for the referral fees you pay for each sale. If you want to expand at a slower pace, then choose an individual marketplace account and register only the countries you wish to sell.
Professional sellers can also choose to link all their accounts for a more unified selling experience. Along with a single sign-on, they will have a single view of sales, orders, and buyer messages of all marketplaces. For more information, click here.
After you are done choosing how to register, here is the information needed to register:
- Business name (Japan)
- Phone number and email address
- Tax information
- Bank account information
- Credit card number
Step 3: Choosing your fulfillment channel
Fulfilling a customer that’s not from your home marketplace can be daunting. For instance, your inventory is located in another country than the marketplace in which the order was placed, so the cost associated with hiring a carrier that can ship internationally combined with customs and duties can eat up all your profits. Not to forget the never-ending trail of returns and refunds, which are even difficult to handle in international marketplaces. If you want to free yourself from all these hassles, simply choose FBA as your fulfillment channel. This will help reduce your overall shipping time, make your products eligible for Amazon Prime and the best part? Amazon will handle all returns and customer support in the local language
Step 4: Understand the currencies, fees & taxes:
The world would be a simpler place if there were only one currency but it’s’ not so make use of Amazon’s Currency Converter for Sellers (ACCS). This tool allows you to receive payments from international shoppers in their local currency, but it will be deposited in your account in your own currency. Amazon charges a 4% fee for this service, but it’s acceptable. If you don’t want to pay the fees, you can set up a bank account in individual countries. This will also give you a higher level of control over your finances, but it is complicated too, because you will have to create a legal business entity in that country.
New account also means extra fees. Here is a list of fees you will have to pay for each marketplace:
- US: USD 39.99
- Canada: CDN 29.99
- Mexico: MXN$ 600.00
- Brazil: R$ 19,00
- Spain: EUR 39.00
- Japan: JPY 4,900
- Australia: AUS$49.95
- UK: £25
- Germany: EUR 39.00
- France: EUR 39.00
- Italy: EUR 39.00
Please note that these fees may vary with time.
Just like fees, taxes too are different in every country. Most countries charge sales tax when sellers exceed a certain threshold of earnings while in some states, sales tax is applied as soon as the seller stores inventory in the country, including storing your products in Amazon FBA centers. This is something you will have to find out on individual country levels. There are so many technicalities involved and chances of getting something wrong are higher, so we would recommend hiring a professional in the field.
Step 5: List the products
Your account is set up and you are clear on the fees, customs and taxes, so now you can list the products. Keep this information handy while you list the products:
- Product ID (e.g. UPC, EAN, ISBN)
- Product title
- Bullet points
- Product description
- Search terms (backend keywords)
- Product images
Bulk listing is not yet allowed across all marketplaces, so you might have to list the products manually. You might also want to translate the listing into the local language and no, Google Translate isn’t the solution here. Simply translating the copy isn’t enough. To help your product rank organically, you should add marketplace relevant local keywords as well. The best way to do so is by hiring a third-party Amazon listing translation service and get their help in creating international product listings.
Step 6: Make it happen with Amazon PPC optimization & marketing
To ensure a successful launch and get an instant boost, you should have a robust marketing plan. Because you are starting from scratch, your first target should be to increase visibility and earn more reviews. There are three ways to do this:
- Offer discounts, coupons and promotions to attract more visitors
- Run Sponsored Product Ad campaigns to increase visibility
- Direct external traffic from social media platforms and emails
Please keep in mind that your product should have at least 5 reviews before you bring any traffic because customers don’t trust products that don’t have reviews. Reviews are specific to the marketplace that product is sold in and so they won’t carry over. Don’t worry; click here for some white hat tricks to get reviews on Amazon.
The good news is that running PPC campaigns in any marketplace is exactly the same as running in your home market and the basic rules remain the same, so it shouldn’t be very difficult. If you have any trouble with PPC, you can always hire our Amazon PPC experts.
With great power comes great responsibilities
Taking your business international comes with its own challenges, but the opportunities are also ample. As Amazon continues to expand its presence worldwide, sellers should also do the same. It is difficult but didn’t you feel the same when you first started to sell on Amazon. At least now you have the selling experience under your belt. Our advice would be to branch out one at a time and, of course, to hire Amazon consultants who can help you out with international selling.