With 11 marketplaces globally, Amazon is an accessible channel for third-party sellers to reach new customers both locally and globally. Many retailers rely on Amazon to expand their businesses internationally. The reason: Amazon presents an opportunity to expand sales internationally with a consistent platform and process that retailers are familiar with.
Methods for Selling Internationally with Amazon
Passive Listing: If you already sell on Amazon, you can sell to international buyers from your existing listings. In countries where Amazon doesn’t have a local website, buyers can shop on Amazon’s marketplaces globally. You can sell to these customers by simply making your products available for export from your domestic account.
You get paid into your seller account as you would for a domestic transaction. If you use Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), you can join the FBA Export programme to fulfil these orders. With the FBA Export programme, Amazon takes care of the export process, customer service and returns. It’s a great way to test new regions and see which products are popular where. Plus, you’ll get an idea of the level of returns that you may expect. If you want to manage the fulfilment aspect yourself, it’s worth considering how you’ll manage delivery, returns and queries from international regions before you begin.
The passive approach is a good way to trial cross-border trade (CBT) and get comfortable with international selling. If you want to take your CBT plans a step further, active listing would be the next stop.
Active Listing: Active listing takes a more engaged approach to CBT. Instead of making your domestic listings available to overseas shoppers, you list directly on international Amazon sites to attract buyers from that local marketplace. Amazon simplifies this process with unified accounts.
The North America Unified Account allows you to manage offers in the US, Canada and Mexico from a single seller account. In Europe, the European Unified Account allows you to manage the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain from a single seller account. The main benefits of a US or EU unified account are (1) you don’t have to open separate accounts locally, and (2) you pay only one professional seller monthly fee from your home marketplace.
You can also sell on Amazon Japan and China, though you need a separate account on each marketplace — there’s no unified account for APAC.
With the Expand Offers Internationally tool, your original offers can be listed in the target marketplace against existing products (ASINs). But please note that you still need to translate new listings (we recommend several ChannelAdvisor partners for this), and you need a dedicated customer service – Google Translate isn’t good enough to deal with customer requests. Or you can use FBA to get started, if customer service might be challenging initially.
We recommend a phased approach to expanding internationally through Amazon and ChannelAdvisor. You may want to start with getting orders to international customers through passive listing. Then you can launch on a new Amazon marketplace. A great way to get started is to use Amazon’s European Fulfilment Network (EFN), fully supported by ChannelAdvisor. With EFN, you can use FBA to ship your products to EU buyers shopping on all five Amazon EU marketplaces and do this from a single inventory pool.
When you sell globally, you’ll need to triple check whether your products are appropriate for your target country. First and foremost, make sure that you comply with all laws in each country. Note also that product standards differ across countries. For example, MP3 players operating on 110–220V that use two-prong electrical chargers may not be appropriate for European marketplaces, but could be appropriate for Japan. Similarly, feather beds you successfully sell in the UK would probably not sell well in the US because the standard mattress sizes differ. For more details, review product restrictions and other requirements via Amazon’s taxes and regulations page, and contact Amazon partners or ChannelAdvisor partners with additional questions.
We strongly recommend starting with a large selection and small quantities in FBA only: testing the waters, relying heavily on Amazon to ship products and to deal with most customer queries.
We recommend expanding to new marketplaces with a phased approach, rather than adding too many at once and becoming overwhelmed. It’s common to encounter problems, such as customer service queries, along the way even for the most seasoned sellers. Keep in mind that Amazon is very strict when it comes to defects, and Order Defect Rates can rise quickly if you don’t use FBA. For example, if two orders are faulty, and you fulfil only 100 units within a month in a new country to get started, then your ODR is already at 2%, way above Amazon’s 1% threshold. The result is that you can be suspended pretty much instantaneously.
By phasing your roll-out of new marketplaces, you minimise the risk of you being overwhelmed and as a result suffering poor results. Alternatively, you can rely on FBA and expand at a quicker pace, with Amazon managing the fulfilment and customer service queries for you.
Want to learn more about expanding to new regions? Download our How to Take Your E-Commerce Business Across Borders eBook for tips to success.
Blog post by: David Le Roux, senior account manager, ChannelAdvisor