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Amazon’s growth and performance throughout the last 5 years have been nothing short of stellar. The online retail giant—which was already on an upwards trajectory—rode off the incredible surge in eCommerce during 2020 and amassed a whopping $386 billion worth of revenue in sales.

Building upon immense levels of success, the company continues to accelerate its expansionist policies by entering new markets. Today, it attempts to solidify its presence in new regions like Australia, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates. 

The growth of Amazon has been, for the most part, tied to the growth of its seller community. According to the Amazon 2020 SMB Impact Report, US sellers averaged $160,000 in annual sales, an estimated 37% increase as compared to 2019.

Infographic: Amazon's Incredible Long-Term Growth | Statista

The top Amazon sellers seem to share a common theme with the platform they do business on; ambitions of global selling and expansion. To the intelligent seller, new markets equal new vistas of opportunities. However, seeking greener pastures in unfamiliar markets comes with its own set of challenges.

Here at ZonGuru, we’re not only passionate about sharing the tools necessary to succeed in one of the most competitive markets on earth but also focus on broadening the horizons of our seller community. As such, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide containing all the information you need to sell internationally on Amazon and scale your business to unimaginable heights! 

Let’s get started. 

Table of Contents

  1. Is Selling Internationally on Amazon a Good Idea?
  2. Sell Internationally on Amazon via Amazon Global Selling
  3. Amazon Account Registration and Setup Process
  4. Choosing the Right Products to Sell Internationally
  5. Listing Creation on Amazon
  6. Shipping and Fulfillment
  7. Promoting Your Business
  8. Final Thoughts

Is Selling Internationally on Amazon a Good Idea?

Before we discuss the global Amazon landscape and its degree of involvement in foreign eCommerce marketplaces, it’s worth asking if selling internationally on Amazon is a good idea to begin with. Let’s start by addressing the types of sellers that should consider putting plans of global expansion aside for the time being: 

  1. Newcomers who have only recently begun selling on Amazon and need time to grow accustomed to the marketplace dynamics.
  2. Seasoned sellers who have yet to break through into the top ranks or achieve a sustainable amount of sales. This is usually attributed to a lack of understanding bestseller practices. 

With that out of the way, here are a few factors that, if present in any Amazon business, would make international selling a viable plan:

  • Becoming a dominant leader within a specific niche and being certain that the same success can be achieved in other marketplaces as well
  • Receiving global traffic as well as inquiries from international customers indicating a void in other marketplaces.
  • Clear competitive advantage if products are shipped and sold in another marketplace e.g. entering the same marketplace where products are manufactured and sourced from. 
  • The local market lacks the demand needed to meet specific sales targets.

Sell Internationally on Amazon via Amazon Global Selling

Amazon Global Selling is the gateway through which your business can reach out to millions of new customers. It provides sellers with the opportunity to massively increase their customer base by reaching out to an international audience. 

As of 2021, there are officially 16 global Amazon marketplaces sellers can list their products on. Regardless of where the seller is physically located, under the AGS program, Amazon picks, packs, and ships the product (provided they have opted for FBA) using some of the most sophisticated logistic networks on Earth. 

Amazon had massive plans for the Chinese market but had to halt operations as of July 2019. 

All 16 global online marketplaces are open for third-party sellers to market and sell their products. These markets are grouped up into the following 4 regions comprising 300 million active customers altogether.

Americas:

  • United States of America
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Brazil

Europe:

  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy 
  • Spain
  • Netherlands

Asia-Pacific

  • Japan
  • India
  • Australia
  • Singapore

Middle East

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Turkey

While the Amazon Global Selling program acts as the perfect launchpad for sellers to propel into new markets, global expansion is a considerable undertaking. Plenty of research and market study is needed to understand the target audiences’ income levels, preferences, and demographics. Also, figuring out native custom duties, taxes, and quality assurance laws is no easy task. 

Here are a few benefits and potential roadblocks of engaging in Amazon Global Selling.

Amazon Account Registration and Setup Process

To sell in another marketplace, you will need to create an additional seller central account. For example, if you want to start selling on Amazon.com.au, you will need to sign up for a new account and also pay the monthly subscription fee. Exceptions to the rule include seller central accounts operating in either one of the two major regions i.e. Europe and the Americas. 

A seller account in any country within the Americas grants access to other marketplaces within the same region at no extra cost. Similarly, signing up for a seller account in, let’s say, the United Kingdom makes it possible to list and sell products in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Such an account is also referred to as a European Unified Account. A seller central account in the US, Canada, or Mexico is called a North America Unified Account.

Linking Regional Accounts

Linking regional accounts enhances the seller experience and makes it easier to manage and scale your online business. Aside from being granted access to a single sign-on (SSO), you can also view buyer messages, sales, and orders from different countries all on one seller central dashboard. 

Professional Seller Plan Fees

Here’s the Amazon Professional seller plan monthly fees across all marketplaces:

  • Amazon USA: $39.99
  • Amazon Canada: CDN $29.99
  • Amazon Mexico: MXN$ 600.00
  • Amazon Brazil: R$ 19.00
  • Amazon UK: £25.00
  • Amazon Germany: €39.00
  • Amazon France: €39.00
  • Amazon Italy: €39.00
  • Amazon Spain: €39.00
  • Amazon Netherlands: €39.00
  • Amazon Japan: JPY 4,900
  • Amazon Australia: AUS $49.95

Registration Requirements for Each Marketplace

Make sure you have the following details available with you when attempting to register on any one of the marketplaces:

  • Phone number
  • Tax information (filling out a W-9 or W-8BEN form depending on US and non-US taxpayer status)
  • Valid credit card
  • Bank account details
  • VAT number (for European markets)
  • Product listing translations (Required for the Japanese Market)

Note: To gain an in-depth look at expanding into Amazon Japan, click here

Payment and Tax-Related Details

Amazon recommends sellers open up a bank account in the country where they wish to sell their products. Doing so results in greater control over financials; however, the entire process is complex and varies from one country to another. You might even have to set up a legal business entity. We suggest consulting your tax, legal, and banking advisors first. 

The second and more common method of receiving international payments is via the ACCS or Amazon’s Currency Converter for Sellers. It removes the hassle of creating a legal business entity in a foreign country and lets sellers receive payments in their local currency. Amazon lets third-party service providers such as Hyperwallet handle the conversions. To avail this service, sellers must reside in one of the nearly 50 ACCS-supported countries. 

Note: The entire list of countries can be viewed here.

Explaining intricate details related to sales tax and other such regulations for each country and marketplace is beyond the scope of this article. A common factor among most countries is the application of sales tax once the inventory reaches its storage point or that seller earnings surpass a certain threshold.

For the European markets, we would suggest visiting this link for further clarification. Aside from carrying out your research, it is also highly recommended to seek the advice of regulatory and tax advisors before engaging in any sort of international endeavors.

Choosing the Right Products to Sell Internationally

The first step of FBA selling begins by searching and validating products, right? While that is definitely the case for domestic Amazon markets, for international selling, an extra step precedes the entire process. This step involves determining whether a product or product category is appropriate for selling in a foreign market. 

The word ‘appropriate’ here isn’t just limited to buyer preferences but also includes issues related to local laws and in particular, items prohibited for sale. Let’s take France as an example. It is against the law to import certain types of measuring instruments. Similarly, Italy deems the import of leather goods as impermissible

Finding the Right Product

Additional factors that must be considered when hunting viable products to sell in international markets include: 

  • Number of Products: Should a seller start with one or two products or list a wide range of offerings? We’d recommend going with the former. Listing a best-selling product backed by credible market and keyword research tools stands a better chance of success rather than uploading multiple product listings. It’s also less costly and there’s more budget left to spend on advertising efforts. 
  • Local Culture: Aside from the legal regulations governing which types of products can be sold in local and online markets, culture plays a significant role in determining the acceptability of certain products. What sells well in one Amazon marketplace is not guaranteed to perform the same way in another. 
  • Shopping Holidays in Foreign Markets: Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are massively popular shopping holidays even outside of the US, there are other days of the year sellers need to keep an eye on. Most notably, Click Frenzy, Super Saturday, Boxing Day, and St. Nicholas Day. 

Price Considerations for Amazon Products

When selling outside your initial marketplace, there are a few additional costs to consider when calculating profitability:

  • Cost of translating product listings into another language
  • Cost of shipping returns in case you opt for FBM
  • Customer support costs for merchants or third-party service provider costs for FBA sellers
  • Taxes and duties
  • Currency conversion costs – view the complete breakdown here
  • Shipping costs included when sending inventory abroad to be stored in Amazon’s fulfillment centers

Listing Creation on Amazon

Once you’ve set up an Amazon account in an international marketplace and confirmed which product(s) you plan on selling, it’s time to start creating product listings. The process is standard across most marketplaces but it still helps to read up on the listing creation guideline found in the Help pages and understand the nuances of each new Amazon marketplace. Each product listing comprises of the following components:

  • Product I.D: global identification numbers like EAN, ISBN, UPC, etc. 
  • Product title: accurately describing the product
  • Bullet points: list the top product features by writing concise and catchy sentences
  • Product description: expand on each bullet point or mention any details for which you couldn’t find space in the bullet points section
  • Product images: there are several rules sellers must abide by when uploading product images. The main ones include using clear and detailed photographs (recommended resolution is 1,000 x 1,000 pixels) minus any promotional text. 
  • Search terms: are keywords entered in the Search field and play a critical role in targeting the right customer. For a complete guide on how to optimize your backend keywords, visit this link.

Overcoming Language Barriers

As we mentioned earlier, fluency with the local language is a prerequisite to doing business in international Amazon markets. Proficiency with the local language is also needed for country-specific research as well as providing customer support services (not the case with FBA). Unfortunately, Google translate isn’t sophisticated enough to create localized marketing campaigns, ad copy, and product listing content. 

Sellers expanding into European markets have an easier time thanks to Amazon’s Seller Central Language Switcher. This tool lets users sell in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands while operating a familiar interface. It does not; however, act as an effective replacement for listing creation in foreign languages. 

Amazon has listed a few online resources including links to credible and professional translators like Gengo, Lionbridge Technologies, Language Wire, and Transperfect Translations. The downside with such services are the associated costs. 

Selling Internationally With Build International Listings (BIL)

Build International Listings is a convenient tool that allows sellers to create and update product offers from their source marketplace to other target marketplaces. It frees sellers from having to individually update and manage product listings across various markets based on currency exchange rates and specified filters. 

The BIL tool does come with a caveat: it’s only operational in regions with more than one marketplace like Europe and North America and across regions that are connected via linking accounts. To access Build International Listings, open up the Inventory tab and click on Sell Globally

Sellers can leverage the BIL tool to carry out the following functions:

  • Create an offer from the source marketplace to target marketplaces provided that the same ASINs exist in both places
  • Adjust prices in new marketplaces based on set price rules and the price set in your source marketplace
  • Attempts to translate product listing pages in your target marketplaces
  • Add or delete an offer in new marketplaces based on changes made to source ASINs
  • Automate price adjustments based on currency conversion fluctuations in target marketplaces. It does not take into account changes with an impact of less than 1%. 

Limitations of BIL

While BIL is a necessary addition to any international seller, it does come with its fair share of limitations. Some things that BIL can’t do include:

  • Determine whether your products are in accordance with local laws and regulations across different marketplaces
  • Create new product listing pages 
  • Remove an offer in your target marketplace when it becomes inactive in your source marketplace
  • Necessarily synchronize inventory across different marketplaces

Create and Update Offer Checklist

Benefiting from the BIL tool requires sellers to possess the following:

  • Professional selling account
  • European Unified Account for selling in Europe
  • North America Unified Account for selling in the NA region
  • Linked accounts between different regions
  • Positive account health for each account 

If the above-stated criteria are successfully met, proceed to:

  1. The Build International Listings tool to begin the process
  2. Select your source and target marketplace
  3. Create a customized list of offers or go for the default option
  4. Set the price rules
  5. Review your settings
  6. Wait for the verification email to come through after Amazon has processed all the connections (Amazon will attempt to create a product detail page if there is a discrepancy found between both source and target marketplaces. However, there is no guarantee of this happening)
  7. Inspect your offer status by opening up the dashboard and downloading the BIL report
  8. Exclude products or offers from specific marketplaces if you like. For more details, visit this guide.

Note: the Global Offer Manager lets you view the status of current offers across all target marketplaces.

Shipping and Fulfillment

Orders can either be shipped internationally via FBM or FBA. 

Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)

First, let’s understand how FBM works in the global context:

  • The price you set should take into account all the extra charges
  • The seller acts as the reporter of the record and does not surprise buyers with additional charges associated with taxes and duties
  • The chosen carrier acts as the importer. Amazon recommends a few names based on seller inputs. Just make sure to prepay all the duty charges. 
  • You are responsible for providing quality customer support services in the local language. Hire third-party service providers if you are unable to do so.

Your responsibilities as an FBM seller include:

  • Meeting deadlines and shipping expectations
  • Informing buyers of the country from which you are shipping the products as well as the ETA 
  • Taking into account additional costs resulting from international shipping. These vary according to delivery time, local sales tax and import duties, weight, package dimensions, and the location of both manufacturing and delivery
  • Bearing the shipping cost of returns. 

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

The alternative method requires sellers to ship their products to an Amazon fulfillment center in the target country. An exception to the case is if you’re already selling in any one of the European marketplaces and wish to expand your operation to another EU market via the Pan-European FBA, Multi-Country Inventory, or the European Fulfilment Network.

Here are the steps involved in global product shipping via FBA:

  1. Prepare your product according to Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements
  2. Ship your items to an Amazon fulfillment center (you bear all the costs)
  3. Amazon will pick, pack, and ship your products to customers in your target market
  4. Amazon will handle returns and customer support-related tasks.

FBA Export

The US FBA Export program is an incentive for US sellers to grow their businesses internationally. Under this program, whenever a buyer visits Amazon.com and purchases a product, Amazon ships it to the customer and handles the returns as well as any customer support-related services free of cost. Note that the buyer bears the additional import fee deposit and international shipping costs.

Customs and Duties

Each country has its laws for managing customs and duties. Your duty as a seller is to comply with local regulations and for that we recommend hiring the services of an agency or a customs broker to help you out. Irrespective of the fulfillment method you select, the following are general requirements for importing goods into any country. 

  • An exporter and importer of record. The exporter can be you or your manufacturer and the importer can be a customs broker.
  • Invoice details with valid information regarding the date, shipper details, description of goods, currency of transaction, shipment tracking number, etc. 

FBA vs. FBM 

Given the clear advantages that FBA has over FBM in regards to handling local customer support, our recommendation would be to go for FBA and let Amazon take care of the logistics leaving you to focus on growing your business. 

Promoting Your Business

It’s fair to assume that sellers entering new markets via Amazon Global Selling know a thing or two about crafting marketing strategies. After all, it makes little sense to expand to foreign markets without conducting extensive market research. 

Since Amazon is keen on wanting such sellers to succeed in new markets, it offers a range of advertising services that ensure you hit the ground running. These promotional tools vary according to different marketplaces and may include Buy One Get One Free, Money Off, and External Benefits.

Another effective way of getting your products much-needed exposure is to engage in Amazon Sponsored Products otherwise known as PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaigns. These campaigns target key customers via keyword-targeted ads. If you don’t have much experience or success with running these promotional ads, we suggest going through this informative piece to gain a firm hold on the basics.

Final Thoughts

Selling internationally may seem like a gargantuan task but can be incredibly rewarding provided you’ve understood most of what we’ve highlighted in this blog. 

Establishing a thriving online business overseas is no walk in the park. It has a lot to do with understanding local marketplace dynamics and having access to valuable data insights. Without the right seller tool to aid you in your journey, it's easy to misread the signs. It also doesn’t help when some of the leading FBA seller tools aren’t fully operational in Amazon marketplaces other than the US and UK.

The good news is that ZonGuru isn’t your average seller tool. As an official Amazon partner, they provide complete functionality in marketplaces like Europe and Australia. Register now for their free 7-Day trial to start selling in international markets and establish your presence before the competition has a chance to catch up!

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