Amazon has spent the last few years expanding its global reach, both in terms of customer numbers, seller numbers, product listings, and the countries it markets to. A quarter of Amazon’s total sales were a cross border in 2017, up by 50% from the previous year, across a total of 13 international marketplaces. Some are relatively new, for example, the Australian market, established solely in response to changes in the assessment and collection of local sales tax (GST). Other, older markets carry the benefits of amalgamation – for example, if you register for a US Unified Account, you can automatically sell in Canada and Mexico as well.
So while trading internationally on Amazon has never been so accessible or attractive, there are several pitfalls that a merchant must navigate if they want to sell successfully across international borders. These include complying with local taxes, import regulations, product restrictions, and legal requirements, as well as all Amazon requirements for selling in foreign marketplaces.
THE BENEFITS OF GLOBAL SELLING ON AMAZON
If you are already successful in your local marketplace, an global selling on Amazon might be right for you. Selling across borders can expose you to a far larger customer base, or even provide you with a more receptive market than you might otherwise find at home. Expanding your customer base can also decrease costs and bring you to profit earlier, for example, because all of your marketing expenses have already been met. And if you have the right sort of product, Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) means that shipping and customer service can be effectively outsourced, cutting your logistical costs considerably.
Global Selling On Amazon
1. Getting Started
Preparation is the key to entering the Amazon global marketplace. You should:
- Determine if there is an actual demand for your product.
- Understand your new customers, their buying and spending patterns. Local sale times, such as Click frenzy sales or important holiday dates such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day are good examples.
- Familiarize yourself with import regulations and restrictions, such as prohibited animal and plant products, or packaging and fumigation requirements.
- Be aware of any taxes that you might have to collect and disburse.
- Take into account international delivery times, particularly if Customs and Excise departments are involved.
- Understand that you are competing with local sellers who may have lower shipping and handling costs (or join Amazon FBA – Fulfilment By Amazon program).
- Comply with local requirements for product specifications and quality assurance.
- Assess product compatibility with your new market – for example, electrical currents, measuring units, plugs, and sizing.
2. Setting up Amazon Global Selling Accounts
The first step is to refer to Amazon’s Global Selling Guide. Begin by registering for separate seller’s accounts in each of the Amazon marketplaces you wish to trade-in. The exceptions are the Unified Accounts for North America (includes Canada, the US, and Mexico) and Europe (includes the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain).
Separate monthly dues must be paid to Amazon for each account you hold. In the case of a Unified Account, a single fee is paid to sell across the entire region. As per your domestic Amazon account, these fees are in addition to the referral fees paid on every sale.
Once you’ve set up your accounts, you can link them together and switch between them using your Seller Central interface homepage.
3. Write Your Product Listings And Set Up Your Customer Service Section
You’ll need to create a new body of listings for every marketplace you plan to sell in. Listings cannot be created wholesale across different marketplaces. If you are a Private Label Seller (ie your product is unique), be aware that you will have to register the product’s ASIN separately in each marketplace. Amazon also requires you to ensure that your products are compliant with all local laws and regulations.
It’s also worth remembering that, while you can manage your Seller Central homepage in your native language, each product listing and all of your customer service details must be provided in the language of that marketplace. And while this makes good sense in terms of marketability, customer service, approachability, and rankings, it can be an onerous task to get it right, particularly keeping in mind the need to tailor your Amazon SEO strategy to the idioms of the local language. Amazon now provides a helpful in-house tool called Translate Your Product, which is in beta mode, so it’s relatively bug-free. And if you decide to register for Amazon FBA, they will take care of your customer service needs, including translation.
As always when creating Amazon product listings, you should consider the value of utilizing an Amazon optimization specialist. Optimizing your content to improve organic ranking means your product will be seen by more potential customers, increasing the likelihood of sales.
4. Create Your Product Listings: Manual Creation and Bulk Creation
- If you only have a few products to sell, you can manually create product listings through the Seller Central homepage.
- If you have a large number of products you should utilize the Expand Offers Internationally (EOI) tool for bulk upload, via an Inventory Loader feed file.
- However, If you want to synchronize a large number of listings across multiple marketplaces, for example, to automatically update prices to reflect currency conversion fluctuations or bulk add and delete listings, you can utilize the Building International Listings (BIL) service. The Translate Your Products tool works well with this option. It automatically adds a translated product description to a new marketplace, so long as you have registered the ASIN there. Note that it can take Amazon up to two weeks to upload a product listing created with the BIL service.
Marketing And Selling Your Products Globally On Amazon
Setting up international marketplace accounts means that you are fundamentally starting with a blank slate. You, therefore, have two main goals – generating initial sales and building up a positive seller profile.
There are several ways in which you can achieve these goals. In the US marketplace, you can register for the Amazon Early Review Program. You can tailor your SEO strategy to maximize traffic and product viewings. You can offer discounts, calls to action and other incentives. And you can channel traffic via targeted marketing campaigns conducted on social media and by direct marketing.
AMZ SEO HUB can assist with digital marketing for amazon sellers at every level of your campaign, whether you’re just starting out, transferring products to the international marketplace, or looking to direct traffic and boost sales for an existing product line.
Once you have generated some interest and have a few customer reviews in place, it’s time to think about strategic marketing.
1. Amazon Promotional Tools
Amazon offers a suite of in-house promotional tools that you can utilize to generate those all-important first sales. These include money off promotions, free delivery, 1-click purchase, and the Amazon points scheme that allows your customers to use points gained when buying other products from the same marketplace.
2. The Global Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign
A PPC campaign in the international marketplace works in the same way as the domestic marketplace. It’s good practice to make sure you have a few customer reviews before beginning a PPC campaign to ensure you make full use of its marketing potential.
AMZ SEO HUB is an experienced Amazon PPC agency with the skills to manage your global PCC campaigns across multiple marketplaces and help you generate and boost sales.
Managing Your Inventory Across Multiple Marketplaces
SKU numbers allow Amazon to differentiate between products and automatically keep track of how much stock you have. But they can also work as a tool when it comes to managing your global selling platform.
You can structure your SKUs in two ways to streamline your selling experience:
1. Global SKUs for Unified Accounts
Global SKUs are for use with Unified Accounts and allow you to share your inventory within these amalgamated marketplaces. However, they cannot be used in conjunction with Amazon FBA shipping.
2. Marketplace-specific SKUs
As the name suggests, these are used to manage your inventory separately in each of your marketplaces. You should use them if you use Amazon FBA to fulfill your orders, or if you make mixed-use of FBA and FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant, ie you), or just FBM.
Navigating Order Fulfilment and International shipping
International shipping is one of the most difficult aspects of Amazon’s global selling to get right. How you choose to fulfill your orders will very much depend on the type and quantity of products you want to sell.
You can choose to fulfill orders via Amazon FBA or yourself (FBM).
FBA is generally only suitable to products that have many repeats, in other words, that are not one-off items such as antiques. FBA shipping attracts lower transaction and per-unit shipping costs, as it is always cheaper to ship in bulk to the target market. However, initial set-up and top up shipments require time to arrive and must undergo more rigorous customs processing. Your items must also be prepared according to Amazon’s packing rules. One significant benefit is that Amazon handles all your customer service and takes care of returns.
Remember, Amazon will not act as your agent when you bulk import to their fulfillment centers. Unless you are highly experienced in international import/export matters, it is recommended that you engage the services of a customs broker or agency.
FBM is automatically more suited to the sale of one-off items, or when you are initially testing the soundness of a potential international market. And if your product falls under a country’s import sales tax threshold, it may be more attractive to customers and compete better with similar, locally produced goods. You would also generally not require the services of a custom’s agent. However, FBM incurs higher transaction costs, as it is always more expensive to ship single products compared to bulk shipments. And while FBM allows you to move items quickly because of reduced customs processing and shipping time, you are responsible for meeting all delivery deadlines. You are responsible for the cost of return items, even when it is the customer’s fault. Customer service must also be conducted in the local language.
No matter which method of shipping is selected, the seller must always make sure that they comply with local laws and regulations regarding the importation of goods.
Amazon Global Selling Fees, Payments, and Taxes
1. Managing Payments
You can receive payment for your goods in a couple of ways. You can set up a local bank account yourself (you may also be required to set up a local company). Or you can make use of Amazon’s international payment solution (ACCS). This allows you to receive international payments into your home country bank account, paid in your local currency. You will need to create an account with Amazon and pay their service and transactional fees.
2. Dealing With Local Taxes
Most countries will apply a good and service tax to imported goods. What can vary is the threshold of that tax. If the threshold is exceeded, sales taxes will also apply as soon as an importer stores their inventory within a country (see the section on FBA vs FBM shipping), which can add to the up-front costs incurred by a seller.
You should note that tax laws and regulations for individual countries and regions such as the EU often change regularly. Australia, for example, now charges sales tax on every imported product, no matter its value (previously the threshold was A$900), so as not to disadvantage local sellers. It is entirely up to you to make sure that you comply with all local tax laws and make any required payments promptly to avoid penalties and back payments.
Before starting to sell with Amazon in a new global marketplace, do your homework and consult the professionals. Begin with a local tax accountant and seek information from local government websites and import agencies. And also consider the value of engaging the services of a professional Amazon seller agency to manage and grow your global Amazon business.
Not all Amazon marketing companies are the same. AMZ SEO HUB is an Amazon marketing agency that specializes in:
- Amazon listing optimization service
- Amazon PPC services
- Inventory management
- Amazon SEO services
- Targeted product writing
You’ve put time and effort into developing your domestic Amazon market share. Now optimize, manage, and grow your business across international marketplaces with AMZ SEO HUB!