According to Abdul Razak Dawood, the Advisor for Commerce and Investment to Prime Minster Imran Khan, Pakistan will soon join the list of approved countries for selling on Amazon.
“An important milestone of e-Commerce policy. Achieved has been through teamwork by many people across the globe,” he would go on to say.
Additionally, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Information Dr. Shahbaz Gill spoke on the importance of the addition to the list.
“Amazon has included Pakistan in its list of sellers. With this development, Pakistan has now joined the international market. This will result in billions in investment and produce employment opportunities.”
At this instant, Amazon has not released a comment or notice regarding the addition of Pakistan to the approved seller list.
Despite not being o the list of approved Amazon sellers, it hasn’t stopped Pakistani retailers from making an impact in the marketplace. Pakistan-based sellers can sell on Amazon if they register their business in a country on the approved seller’s list. Registering a business in another country stands as a roadblock for many and a constant cause for concern for others.
As a result of being added to the list, that will no longer be the case.
In late January, we spoke with Saqib Azhar, the CEO and Co-Founder of Enablers, a company that focuses on helping hopeful entrepreneurs in Pakistan build their business. Additionally, Azhar leads one of the largest Amazon seller communities in the world. Ironically, all in a market that at the moment, isn’t on Amazon’s approved seller list.
During our conversation, Azhar mentioned that among his many goals, landing Pakistan on the approved sellers list was chief among them. For years, Azhar has underscored how e-commerce can empower Pakistan’s economy and provide opportunities for the youth.
Above all, Azhar and government officials pushing the change recognize the opportunity e-commerce represents for people in their communities.
Certainly, we’ll continue to update as more information becomes available.
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Many sellers have been awaiting the launch of Product Discovery in each Amazon international market. Well, the day has finally come! Just like Market Intelligence and our Launch platform, Product Discovery now allows you to find international products in the following countries:
We are also on track to roll out other international markets in quick succession, including:
With Amazon international markets now enabled on Product Discovery, you can easily select the market you are wanting to compete in from the top menu. Just look for the location drop-down menu on the top right of the screen, and select your preferred marketplace.
Once you have selected your market, some of the language inside the tool will change. For example, when looking for product ideas in the German marketplace, the category names will appear as they do on Amazon.de. Likewise, if you are searching by Keyword, the keyword results will be in German.
This is where being able to quickly transition to Amazon becomes really handy. If German is not one of your primary languages, you won’t be able to tell what the product is or even what category it is in. Click the “View on Amazon” button for the products whose metrics look most favorable to you, and give yourself a few tabs to explore.
Validate International Product Ideas
Once you’re on Amazon, use the Market Intelligence Chrome extension to get the most up-to-date star rating for the product as well as historical information about how the market is trending. You can also see sales trends, price fluctuation, and market averages for revenue, sales, price, reviews, and star rating. While Product Discovery helps you find products, Market Intelligence will help you to validate, or invalidate, that market.
Market Intelligence provides data and insights for international markets including the following: UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain.
Launch In International Markets
Viral Launch also offers international launches in the following marketplaces: UK, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, and Spain. Coming this year in 2018, we will also offer launches in Japan, India, China, and Mexico.
The opportunity to expand into international markets at this point in time is incredible. While you can certainly expect the cash flow from these markets to be less than Amazon.com, getting into a market early is a huge advantage. You can begin gathering reviews and building sales history to establish your product as the go-to product for your market before competition increases.
Additionally, we currently offer all international launches for free, with the exception of UK launches.
With Product Discovery, Market Intelligence, and our Launch platform all integrated with international markets, it’s never been easier to expand your business.
Ready to find and source your next international product? Create a free Viral Launch account and sign up for Product Discovery with international capabilities today!
Amazon Europe is as big as Amazon US. Could going international be the next great move for your FBA business? Join Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss and co-host Cameron Yoder as they talk with Lucy Marshall from World First about incredible opportunity that is Amazon international and how to make the most out of overseas earnings.
Want to be on the show? We’re working on an episode that features our listeners! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.
Hey, everybody. Cameron here with Viral Launch. We’re here in Austin, Texas, recording a special episode. Today we are going to talk about internationalization, and it’s internationalization involved with a company called World First. And we’re going to get into a lot of different things today involved with internationalization. But for now I guess I’ll just pass the mic around the table for some introductions.
Hey, guys. Casey here. Yeah, hopefully we can bring you guys some decent value as you look to expand internationally. Or maybe you’re an international seller looking to sell in the US. Or maybe you already are. We just want to help make sure that you are being as efficient as possible, making sure you have as much capital as possible to drive success behind your business.
And hi, I’m Lucy Marshall over at World First. I work on our e-commerce team here working with sellers directly to help them take advantage of new marketplaces and have worked previously for private label brands, so kind of understanding from both the brand perspective and the payments international end of that, how to make your brand successful overseas.
So like Casey touched on a little bit before, we’re trying to provide value for you, whether you’re expanding into international markets, or you’re thinking about expanding into international markets, or just even with your consideration in expanding your private label business in general. We’re going to talk a lot today about kind of everything having to do with those ideas. Part of that will be really having Lucy here explain what World First is and how sellers can prepare for something like expanding into international markets when it comes to what World First provides. So let’s get started.
Lucy, can you explain, just to everyone, give a basic overview of what World First is, like just simple as that?
Absolutely. So what we are is an international payment solution, and we work with corporations and e-commerce sellers to help them send and receive money globally.
We were founded in the UK back in 2004, and really our founder was working at Citibank and kind of saw an opportunity in the market for small- to medium-sized businesses to get better rates for their FX transfers. And that’s kind of blossomed the idea of World First and really being able to give those businesses better access to better rates than some of the larger banking platforms were. Our e-commerce solution really started coming into play in 2007 and coming truly to support the US market in 2014.
Now as we stand about to roll into 2018 we’ve worked with over 40,000 e-commerce sellers with offices worldwide. Whether you’re selling, you know, in China, Japan, Australia, UK, EU, US, Canada, we’ve got someone there to support you and really make sure your business is a success in that market.
So let’s say a – because you don’t only deal with private label sellers and Amazon, right? Like it’s businesses involved with international transactions, in general?
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean outside of Amazon itself, we’re compatible with 72 marketplaces globally, so it’s not strictly Amazon. Additionally, if you’re a company with an entity in the US and EU we’re able to send those funds back and forth. If you have suppliers overseas you need to make payments to, we can facilitate those payments as well. So it’s not strictly online businesses, but truly any business that needs to make payments or receive payments globally in different currencies.
So if a private label seller on Amazon comes to you and says – well, is just interested in what you do, what would you tell them, like specifically for them?
So for them what I would say is we’re an international payment solution that will allow for you to set up receiving accounts worldwide. The benefit of being a private label business is you’ve worked to build this brand. Let’s say you want to take that brand to the UK without actually having to make an entity in the UK. We’re able to set up a receiving solution for you so that that way you can receive pounds or receive the local currency and send it back to your US account at about half the cost of what a marketplace would charge. So we’re automatically adding about 2% to your bottom line without any opening fees, monthly fees or closing fees, and it allows for you to move your money from those global markets worldwide.
So we talked – now that we, I think everyone kind of has a pretty general understanding of what World First is and, or where you guys came from, let’s touch on just internationalization in general, right. So can you tell us from your perspective and World First’s perspective, what are the advantages to selling internationally?
There are so many. I am like the world’s biggest advocate for selling outside of the US right now because I think there are so many fantastic opportunities even just looking at different selling opportunities. Like you’ve got Boxing Day in the UK, and that’s not something we have access to in the States. There is Singles Day in China. If you start selling in the new Australian market that launched you have seasonality, so if you have a summer product in the US and you want to sell that in Australia during the winter you have that opportunity to sell that worldwide. And so for me those are all those advantages, and especially taking advantage of newer markets, it’s less competition. It’s more opportunity. And then even with exchange rates, if you’re selling in the UK it’s often a higher price point, and so you’re getting more return as you’re converting those funds back and those sales back from the UK.
Yeah, and building off of what Lucy is talking about, you know collectively – I think we’ve said this before – but collectively the Amazon EU is just as large as Amazon US. And like Lucy said, so much easier to drive success in these markets because competition is so much lower. Obviously there are some hurdles there, and World First is helping you kind of step over some of those. But there is so much opportunity international. We’re super bullish on internationalization and, you know, making sure you’re selling everywhere as much as possible. Amazon is really pushing Amazon EU markets, and so like, you know, Amazon EU is like getting into Amazon US two years ago, maybe three years ago, where competition is just a fraction of what it is now, and you get to essentially ride that wave of success as Amazon continues to grow their dominance in these markets. And so you know, we actually, here in Austin, at Capitalism Conference with Ryan Moran, we actually just met these two guys. After apparently eight months of taking Amazon successfully these guys just reached the $10 million mark.
They’re killing it.
Which is absolutely insane, while going to college – one of them is going to college. And they don’t sell in the US. They’re only selling an international Amazon markets because there is so much opportunity. You know, one of the guys was saying just by the fact that they have a Spanish speaker write their listings for Amazon Spain they’ll get ranking because their keyword structure is so much better. Their listings are so much better written because they have – one of them is a native Spanish speaker. He’s from Venezuela. And he’s just able to write really great listings, and that allows them to rank. So competition is just like, you know, a shadow of what it is in the US, but the opportunity collectively is the same.
And they have a slight advantage over people in the US having grown up in Europe and kind of understanding the European market. That being said, that – I think their story really shows that’s a very tangible thing to tell you guys that hey, the European market, or the worldwide market is very much alive. Obviously that’s a lot of good opportunity that is there, and they’re not even selling in the US market.
Those guys are super smart guys. Like they were going to Dartmouth, and then now he’s going to Cambridge studying mathematics and finance. So they are very smart guys.
It’s not like you can just pull a trigger and it just like magically happens.
But there’s huge opportunity, for sure.
Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about the UK market specifically. So if someone – let’s say you have a seller in the US who wants to sell in the UK as maybe like their first step internationally. From your perspective and from what you’ve seen, what would be like a good kind of tangible first step leading to that?
So obviously I think first step looking into any market is looking how your product is going to perform in that market and making sure that you’re actually going to be able to make sales from that. No one wants to throw spaghetti against a wall and put their product in Amazon FBA and be like fingers crossed, hope this works. So again, I think that’s such a fantastic thing that Viral Launch can help you with and looking at what your product can do in that market. Next steps from there are a little bit more admin. Like do you have your VAT numbers, which is value-added tax? And Amazon has really been cracking down on that in the past year. I think the stat was they lost out on $1.28 billion in VAT fraud from Amazon sellers specifically not necessarily paying it. And so the UK government has been really upset with Amazon, which means Amazon is like yo, you’ve got to get your VAT numbers in because we will shut down your account. So getting those set up, making sure you have those implications in place ready to pay those taxes. Our service specifically can help you make those payments so that way you’re making a pound-to-pound payment and not having to bring those pounds back to dollars and then send the VAT payment in pounds again.
Next steps from there, shipping, and then translating your labels and your listings if you are private label and selling on those markets. Luckily UK is English-speaking, so not a ton of leg work there. A little bit of localization to make sure – let’s say if you’re selling pants, they become trousers on that marketplace, making sure things are finessed a bit to that space.
I really think – well, there’s one area that I see a lot of people focus on when it comes to money, and that’s tax. Like a lot of people, when they think about expanding internationally they think oh, all I need to do, all I need to do is have my taxes, my tax system set up and set in place. They don’t often think about having like a bank set up –
– right? Or this money transfer system set up in place. Do people need to have, need to have or should have like a bank set up in like the UK, or is that something that –?
You don’t necessarily need to have the banking account in the UK, and this is truly where our service comes into play, right? Like if you’re opening a physical bank account you have to pay fees, you have to have a business over there. You have to have a physical entity and then be paying taxes to that country and paying taxes on your business there. If you’re opening an account with us the beauty is we’re able to collect those funds in one of our virtual accounts. You have the banking and routing number and everything that goes along with that. And if you’re choosing to just use a marketplace to manage your FX transfer, they’re typically transferring that at a much higher rate, and they’re doing it biweekly, so that’s not giving you any control or transparency as to how or when to move your funds. If you’re using a platform like ours we can collect the funds, and then you have access to a platform much like your online banking platforms where you can facilitate a trade. You can watch the rates, be aware of what rate exactly you’re moving your funds at, and then we’re usually coming close to cutting those rates in half, so saving up to 2% on your bottom line. So if you are selling, say, 10,000 pounds a month, that’s saving you $200 on your transfers coming back. So that’s not a small fee by any stretch. And again, as you continue to grow your sales that becomes a much bigger chunk of your sales that you should be getting back because you’ve put in all this hard work to get to new markets. Make sure you’re taking the most home from those markets.
Is there a simple way to explain like, okay, let’s say we have a seller in the US again who sells in the UK. What does a simple process look like to get that money back into the United States? Like can you break that down a little bit?
Yeah, the flow of funds you mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, so what – right now if you were a US seller selling into the UK you would be putting your US bank account into that space. You would put our routing account numbers in there, and that’s in the name of your business. So Amazon now deposits funds into that account, and then we move that back when you’re ready. It’s either an automatic transfer, or you can transfer that online when you’re ready to. If you are a rate watcher and want to see, hey, I saw this go up to, you know, 1.3 today. I’d like to do it at that rate. So there’s really no difference in terms of timing or flow of funds. It’s just Amazon deposits to us, and then we move that back to your US account.
Okay. What do you see as like maybe the number one or maybe even top couple mistakes that people are making when it comes to like, I don’t know, money transfer and/or sales internationally?
It’s a complete lack of awareness. I think really one of our biggest hurdles as we’re talking to new sellers is they’re not aware that this FX transfer is occurring, and they’re not aware of what rate that that’s happening at. So to me if you’re not watching your bottom line as a seller, like that’s a problem. You need to be making sure that you are getting the most of your sales home. So we’re able to kind of calculate that, and you can look at, say, a daily rate of when Amazon’s transferring your funds and then you know, dividing that by the amount you’re getting back. And usually you can figure out what that daily rate is and through a percent change calculation see, oh, that’s roughly maybe like 4% of my bottom line. And that’s not necessarily super competitive. And also you have no control over it, so that stinks, too. Like you should be in charge of your own money and how and when that’s being moved back.
Talking about like money saved, right, because this – so this whole process, the goal is to really help sellers save money through a process that maybe they’re not even aware of.
How – do you know how much a typical seller will save after like becoming aware of something like this and getting involved with these transactions?
Yeah, and typically that depends on size of the seller, how much you’re moving back. But I would say on average, again, if you’re at that 10,000 pound mark we’re saving about $200 on every transfer. So that’s kind of our best rule of thumb. Obviously if you’re selling like 10 million pounds or something in that range yearly that’s a much, much bigger number. So that does vary depending on the size of the seller and how much you’re bringing home.
Yeah, and so how long does it take to set up this whole World First process?
It’s super easy. It’s really only four documents that we need to get you set up. As long as those come in we can have your account set up in a matter of hours, and then the accounts are able to allocate immediately. We have RMs, relationship managers, in-house that can walk you through where and how to put this in on Amazon so everything is done correctly, it’s Amazon-compliant, and then they will walk you through your first trade as well. So it’s really helpful to actually have a voice on the phone and someone to actually talk to rather than, you know, screaming at a computer. I feel like we all do that enough in our day-to-day lives that don’t have to do it on the banking end of things as well.
Yeah, so I mean just to break it down, I know everybody’s always so crunched for time. I mean apparently, you know, this is something that you can do in a matter of hours, let’s say, at the most, and you will save hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, which just really adds up over the course of a year, especially when you’re talking about being able to purchase more inventory, get a little bit cheaper rates on your inventory, so you save more money there. And you can – it really just compounds. And so as long as it’s quick, 2% really adds up, especially when you start getting into volume and you add that up over time.
Right. This is something that not many people know about, especially when it comes to international stuff. I think one thing that is kind of at fault with US sellers is just awareness with all the systems in place, like in VATs. And the story of the guys that we talked about before, the thing about them is that they, again, grew up in that area. And so they definitely have – they’re smart guys, number one, but number two, they do have a pretty good understanding of the space and the area that they’re in, which is Europe. And that definitely has an advantage. And so being aware of something like this, as well as being able to save money to put towards your other resources, like something like this is something that not a lot of people are aware of that we want to provide value to you by making you aware of or having you be aware of it. So Lucy, talking specifically about World First, what unique perspective does World First offer sellers on Amazon?
It’s really the perspective of smartly managing your finance. I mean we are – we really focus on that payments end of it and making sure we’re creating a solution where not only if you’re selling on the UK, but if you’re selling on China, if you’re selling on Japan, if you’re figuring out how to take advantage of that new Australian market, we want to put the pieces in place for you to be able to manage those different aspects of your business and be smart about it financially. In addition to that we do have a very vast partner network. So if you do need help figuring that out we’re kind of a jack of all trades, masters of none outside of that payment space. So we’re really able to figure out where to connect you there, and I just think there’s so much opportunity outside of the domestic US market to go take advantage of that and then really make sure you’re savvy with both your receiving payments from Amazon, but also paying for, and suppliers paying for, and employees, and making sure you have a frictionless way to move your money globally.
So if, let’s say some of our listeners are even just a little curious about what you’re talking about. What resources would you have for them to even just point them in a specific direction or to get in touch?
Yeah, and there are a couple of different ways. You can just go sign up online. I mean I will give you all my email to post after this. Please reach out directly. I’m more than happy to field calls or answer questions about something. Really our biggest resource are our people. Everyone’s highly educated, not only in the world of FX, but in e-commerce, as well. So I would put ourselves forward as our best resource to do that in addition to, you know, the content we’re putting out on our blog, as well.
Recently we’ve been working not only with sellers that have already expanded to the international markets, but really looking at how we can support those that want to take advantage of it as well. And so we’ve really relied on partners in the field of VAT, shipping, logistics and translation to help kind of those admin pieces of like where do I start to figure out to get my product overseas and get my listings set up and make sure you’re government-compliant with everything that’s happening in the UK and EU as well. So truly I feel like you all are the best first stop for our clients because you’re able to figure out where in the market does someone’s product fit, and will that be successful? And then we can kind of help through the nuts and bolts in terms of figuring out VAT, shipping and the payments piece of it as how you figure out how to manage your global payments.
Thank you guys so much for tuning in. Again, if you have any questions feel free to shoot us an email. We’ll provide all of the content from this podcast in the description.
Savvy Amazon sellers have been taking advantage of Amazon’s global marketplaces for years. With marketplaces in 11 regions, and customers in over 180 countries, Amazon makes it easy to get in front of fresh markets and new consumers. Retail, as we know it, is rapidly developing as consumers purchase more products online rather than in-store. eMarket shows that Amazon is responsible for 44 cents of every ecommerce dollar spent, up from 38 cents in 2016. With this increased growth, more sellers are expanding beyond borders to find less saturated markets and take advantage of exchange rates. The opportunity to sell globally? Massive.
We are now seeing more private label brands and resellers become global market leaders. Brands like Anker manage their own eCommerce storefronts and are relatively unknown in the brick and mortar space. But, by optimizing their listings and expanding their brand across multiple channels, they’ve become a titan on global marketplaces. On Amazon, the UK/EU are collectively the same size as the Amazon.com market. In China, it’s projected that more than a quarter of the population will be shopping for foreign products on eCommerce platforms. For those of you counting at home, that’s roughly 455 million potential customers.
That said, opening your business to new markets means learning how to navigate cross border payments, transactions, and how to bring your international sales home effectively. Not to mention you will have to pay VAT, the equivalent of sales tax in the UK / EU, to the international governments in which you’re selling. It goes without saying, you need an effective strategy in place to manage all of your different currencies, tax payments, and supplier payments to protect your margin selling globally.
Money Forward Contracts
So what do you do? Setting up in-country bank accounts requires an entity in that country, and the process to set it up can be lengthy and costly. Not to mention, the currency exchange rates that you’re getting may still not be competitive. While most marketplaces have a currency solution, you have zero control over when they move your funds and no transparency to the trade rate of their funds. You need a solution that both allows you control over your foreign exchange, and protection against potential volatility in the rates.
Take Brexit, for example. We saw the rates move 10% in a matter of hours, and those using a marketplace solution were at the mercy of the markets. Those who were working with a solution like WorldFirst were able to work with their relationship managers to protect themselves against market movement by booking forward contracts or setting rate alerts. This helped them move their funds back home at a rate they budgeted for. By giving our customers the ability to control their money, we were able to provide peace of mind and the ability to protect their rates.
Amazon International Money Transfers
As global eCommerce becomes more accessible to sellers, it’s becoming easier to make cross border distribution a reality for your business. The only consistency in the currency market is that it fluctuates. While you may never be able to predict which way the market is going to move, World First can help you protect your margins and grow your business globally. We have had sellers experience their business grow between 5-10% in the first year of expanding internationally, and then reinvest the profits in your business to promote continued growth in the international space.
World First USA Inc. can help you pay suppliers, vendors, and taxes overseas. We can set you up with local receiving accounts in the countries where you’re selling, allowing you to collect funds in the local currency and take control of when your funds are transferred. The marketplace transfers your earnings to your in-country account and you can transfer your funds back home. We’d love to help you take hold of the global markets. Register here to get started.
Amazon is making it easier to enter international markets every day. As Amazon expands into new countries, it allows third-party sellers to create international Amazon listings.
And while entering an international market is a great opportunity to increase your profit, you have to make sure you are taking the correct steps to reap the most rewards.
Have Well-Written International Amazon Listings
It’s no secret that an international Amazon product listing will have to be written in the appropriate language. After all, you can’t expect a product to sell very well in Italy when the listing is written in English.
Though it might seem reasonable to hop onto Google Translate and use those results on your listing, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Invest in Copy Written by a Native Speaker
Think of all that goes into writing well-crafted copy for your product listing. You need to:
Know all the relevant keywords for your product
Understand Amazon SEO
Write copy that resonates with your audience and converts to sales
Now imagine attempting to write these listings in a language you don’t know.
Choosing a native-speaking copywriter will give you a more polished and professional listing with better ranking and conversions.
Amazon SEO, which helps ensure your products are easy to find, has some guidelines that need to be followed, and language may affect the SEO guidelines. And missing something small, like an accent mark, can completely change the indexation of keywords.
Additionally, keywords will be different in each country. “Moscow mule mug” may be the appropriate keyword for a U.S. listing, but citizens of other countries may have completely different names for that specific drink, or call “mugs” “cups.” That means the direct translation may not be the best keyword for a listing in Spain or France, for example.
For a better understanding of the differences, consider what Americans call a car trunk. In the U.K., that’s referred to as a boot. An American sweater is a British jumper. A cookie is a biscuit. A grilled cheese sandwich becomes a cheese toasty. Fries are chips.
And those are all English. Imagine the dialect differences in other languages.
Don’t Use Google Translate
Google Translate or similar translation software may be a tempting option, but it’s not likely to give you very accurate (or well-written) options.
Languages are complicated, and many aspects, such as dialect, can change what a phrase will literally translate to. The target keywords won’t necessarily be part of the translation, costing you valuable traffic. It’s best to trust a native speaker who can translate the meaning of a sentence, not just the words.
Optimize Your International Listing
Worried about finding an international copywriter? Don’t fret: Viral Launch now offers International Listing Optimizations. Now you will have access to quality, native copywriters to set your international listing up for success.
International Listing Optimizations are available in the following languages:
English (UK and Canada)
You can create optimized listings for Mexico, Spain, the U.K., Canada, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, and the U.S.
As some Europe-based Amazon sellers know all too well, expanding your selling dominance to Amazon UK is not as simple as listing your product and waiting for sales to ring up. Even a few innocent mistakes can get your Amazon Seller Account suspended and sideline your sales.
If you’re selling on Amazon UK or plan to, let’s look at the top 7 reasons sellers get suspended on that platform so that you can avoid these pitfalls and keep your business goals on track.
1) Not Following Amazon’s Shipping Requirements
There are two key hangups with shipping products in the UK. One, most people don’t use tracking with the Royal Mail. Two, an item can get stuck in customs, causing buyers to have to go pick up the item and pay for each day it sat in customs. Amazon wants sellers using tracking for every shipment and does not want to be associated with customer dissatisfaction from items held up in customs. The best way for sellers to eliminate both issues to participate in Amazon’s FBA Program. Amazon handles all of the shipping logistics, freeing you to focus on other parts of your business.
2) Forbidden Products
Each country has its own laws. If you’re a seller who isn’t up-to-date on regulations for certain products, your shipments could get held up at customs, anger buyers, and cause your sales to dwindle. Different products have different restrictions, so do your research! Make sure you can sell your product on Amazon UK by familiarizing with the regulatory nuances. Or, simply open an Amazon FBA Account so that Amazon makes sure your product gets to the customer.
3) Inauthentic Products
A suspension due to inauthentic products may be from “fake” products, or that the country from which you purchased your product is incompatible with the market in which you want to sell. In other words, the product may be legitimate, but country of origin is not authorized. For example, if you buy a product in Spain or China and want to resell it in the UK, it would be considered inauthentic because the product was designated for sale in Spain or China. Just a little bit of legwork to confirm compatibility can prevent you from sourcing the wrong product for sale in the wrong country.
4) Not Honoring Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents
Each country not only has its own tailored laws, they also adhere to specific guidelines for trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Make this part of your initial research so that you’re not investing money only to be shut down. Look into registering your brand on Amazon Europe, and consider getting a European trademark and patent.
5) Different Standards of Customer Service
People love Amazon Customer Service. Make Amazon happy and your potential customers happy by getting the customer service language for your designated country right. School yourself in the language and culture. Be aware of the types of buyers in the country or market, the products they will and won’t shop for, and plan accordingly.
6) Manipulation of the Platform
It’s always important to stay compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service. One of the quickest ways to violate TOS is using review programs to artificially benefit your bottom line, essentially painting a target on your business. If you’re going to use a review service, use one that is first compliant with Amazon USA.
7) Poor Product Quality
If your product is imperfect, dented, dirty, dusty, ugly or not as described, European buyers are likely to report it, return it, or both. Also don’t attempt to sell products that are defective, damaged, counterfeit, or used as new. Packaging should also be pristine, free even of seemingly imperceptible flaws like fingerprints. Also pay attention to negative comments from buyers. Those comments tell you what you need to fix immediately.
So you want to grow your business internationally, and you think selling on Amazon Germany could be the way to go? You might be right.
Amazon.de is the second largest Amazon marketplace behind the U.S. with about 15 percent of the Amazon international market and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The overall German online market is growing by about 12 percent annually, and cross-border e-commerce sales are growing as well, meaning Germans are warming up to the idea of purchasing from the U.S.
You’re probably thinking Germans are ripe for the picking for a savvy seller like yourself, but before you take the plunge into Deutschland, consider these helpful tips about Amazon Germany buyers and how they differ from their American counterparts.
1. Germans are highly focused on security and avoiding risk
German buyers want to avoid wasting time and money on low quality products, so they will likely do much more research before buying compared to Americans. Not only will they research the product they are interested in, but they will generally research brands, their quality and their reliability. And, if you don’t have a local address associated with your account, German consumers may assume you will be difficult to contact or returns will be burdensome, which could deter them from purchasing.
2. German buyers want to know your credentials
An Amazon Germany customer is searching for more than your statement of reliability and quality. They want factual evidence from 3rd parties, such as reviews from fellow Germans, or certification compliance with German or EU-based institutions. So while your FDA approved product might win over buyers in the U.S., it will mean virtually nothing to most German buyers. That’s not to say you won’t sell anything without a local certification, but depending on your product, your chances of increasing sales with a local certification is high.
3. Germans aren’t interested in your showy marketing lingo
In the U.S., many buyers like to be wowed and dazzled with pretty marketing language when looking at a product. They want to be told yours is the “best”, “greatest”, “most effective” or “the only one of its kind”. Germans are more detailed and fact-driven. They want to know why your product is better than someone else’s with honest, modest facts. So if you think you can simply translate your U.S. listing copy with Google Translate, think again. Not only will the translation likely be poor due to language and phrasing differences, but it may not resonate with German buyers.
4. If a German buyer doesn’t like your product, they will return it
U.S. buyers may return an item if they are unhappy, but if the item was low cost or they think the process could be lengthy, many will just keep the item or throw it away. In Germany, if a buyer is unsatisfied with your product, they’re much more likely to return it and get their money back. And, unsatisfied German customers are much more likely to contact sellers about their unhappiness and/or leave a negative review. In many cases, there’s a greater chance that Germans will leave a poor reviews if they are unhappy than positive reviews if they are satisfied.
Speaking of reviews…..
If you’re thinking about using the same email marketing tactics as in the U.S. to help generate reviews and client rapport, think again. Germany’s email marketing laws are some of the strictest across the globe, and ignoring their regulations won’t just land you with a slap on the wrist, but a fine from the German government.
The bottom line with Amazon Germany and interacting with German consumers is this: do your research and don’t just assume that buyers have the same expectations cross-culturally. Every Amazon marketplace is unique, but if you’re looking for a thriving online market to grow your business beyond the U.S., Amazon.de is a great starting point as long as you take the time to do it well and consider cultural differences. If you’re concerned about your product selling well on Amazon Germany and are searching for a better grasp of market trends overseas, check out Market Intelligence International to evaluate the market, validate sourcing ideas and provide sales estimates. When you’re ready to take the leap, check out our international launches to get your product visible and sales up and running!
Don’t let EU VAT (European Union Value Added Tax) be a barrier to growing your business internationally. There are more than 500 million people in the EU, and Amazon is a quickly growing marketplace in Europe. Imagine if you got into Amazon US 10 years ago. Now is your chance to do the same in Europe!
What is EU VAT?
VAT, or Value added Tax, is a consumption tax paid in the European Union. If you are selling, or want to sell, in Amazon Europe marketplaces, you must have an understanding of EU VAT: how much you are required to pay and what your filing requirements are. We’ve compiled some must-know information about VAT for American Amazon FBA sellers who want to start selling on Amazon Europe.
What is a registration VAT number? Do I need one?
A VAT number is the unique number assigned to a taxable person or business. Each European country has their own VAT system and unique numbers. You may or may not need to register for more than one, depending on your sales and where your goods are stored. You can usually register online for a European Union VAT number but it may take several weeks to be processed, so keep this in mind. Selling without a VAT can result in hefty fines, so you want to make sure you get any necessary VAT numbers right right off the bat.
How often do I need to pay VAT or file VAT returns?
You will have to pay VAT and supply VAT returns (these returns say how much you owe) on the frequency required by the country you are paying. This could be monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or annually depending on the country’s requirements. A country may even specify which day of the month to file so be sure to check on how these rules apply in your situation.
How much is EU VAT?
Each country has it’s own tax rate and it can vary by item so you will need to check on how much to collect for your product. For example, the UK Standard rate is 20%. If your product is not a special product which gets a reduced or zero rate, this standard rate of 20% is what you have to pay, as long as your product is in the UK and you are selling to someone in the UK or you are below the distance selling threshold.
The distance selling threshold applies to products crossing the border from one European country to another European country. If the number of products you’ve sold from one country to another in one calendar year exceeds the threshold, you will need to pay the VAT of the destination country. On the other hand, if your sales are lower than the distance selling threshold of the destination country, you will need to pay the VAT of the origin country.
Thresholds are determined by individual countries, so make sure you’re keeping track of all the countries your product is shipping to and their specific thresholds.
Here are some example distance selling thresholds (2017)
So, if you are shipping products from the UK to France and your sales are below France’s distance selling threshold, then you would pay the UK VAT, following any UK invoicing requirements.
On the other hand, if you are selling goods from the UK to France and you are above France’s distance selling threshold, you would need to pay France’s VAT rate and follow France’s invoicing requirements. In this case, you would need to register to pay VAT in France once you reach the distance selling threshold. There also may be more paperwork.
Once you pass the threshold, you have an immediate obligation to register for VAT and pay, so keep close track of your sales. If you register too late, you can incur penalties and interest charges. You can view the country of destination in Amazon’s order information. If you sell on other platforms, you will have to add in those sales as well.
Say you have stock in the UK and Germany, and you are shipping goods to Germany from both warehouses. The items going from the warehouse in Germany to Germany would require Germany VAT. The items shipping from the UK to Germany would start adding up to Germany’s distance selling threshold. Below the threshold, you would need to pay UK VAT but above it, you would need to pay Germany VAT.
Figuring out how much VAT to pay sounds complicated. What if I have inventory in multiple warehouses and shipping to multiple countries?
To keep things simpler, you could elect to pay Germany VAT on all sales shipping to Germany from the beginning. Sellers can elect to pay the Standard Rate of VAT in the destination country at any time and this could make things simpler for you. Depending on the country’s rules, you could end up paying more or less with this method. You will need to figure out a systematic way to keep track of your taxes.
Some customers, like in Germany and Italy, expect a VAT invoice, especially if the purchase was expensive. Although it varies by country whether it is required to provide a VAT invoice by law, often buyers expect one in any case. If a buyer asks for one, you must provide it. You will need to check which countries require invoices and which don’t.
Here are some examples of country requirements for VAT invoices:
UK – not required unless requested
France – required
Italy – required
Spain – required
Germany – required
Should I include VAT in the sale price of my item?
When pricing your product in different countries, you will need to decide whether to include VAT in your price or charge VAT on top of your price. In Europe, often the VAT is included in the price but keep in mind that VAT is different in each country so if your price is standard across the board, you will have different margins depending on the country’s VAT.
Do I need to pay EU VAT when importing items?
You may also be subject to pay VAT upon delivery when you import your goods into the EU. You may also have to pay VAT if your goods are stored in a fulfillment center in one country and are shipped to a different country. This is because the EU assumes you are shipping these goods for your own use. Once you sell the item and collect VAT from the buyer, you can be refunded the VAT you paid when importing the item.
Are there any other documents I need to file?
If you are a high volume distance seller (you are above the distance selling threshold for 1 or more countries), you may need to file Intrastat declarations. Intrastat is an EU system that compiles intra-EU trade statistics. This can be very complicated and varies greatly by country.
This is all over my head! Can someone else help me pay VAT?
You can have a 3rd party service help pay your VAT for you. VAT can be very complicated so having some help from a professional is definitely recommended.
Take EU VAT seriously and be proactive
Understand the rules of each country or hire someone who does
Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Don’t let VAT inhibit you from reaching your sales potential
*This article is written for Amazon FBA sellers selling to consumers in the EU, not businesses. Viral Launch is not a tax authority. Viral Launch does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
Hopefully, you already understand why you should be selling on Amazon Europe. Now it’s just a matter of how to do it. Selling internationally on Amazon can be simple if you take advantage of Amazon’s services in Europe and allow their offerings to streamline your business expansion.
1. Choose your “home” marketplace
Amazon Europe has 5 marketplaces: UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. You can use one Seller Account across all 5 marketplaces, but you must determine where the majority of your products will be distributed from.
Keeping your products in the US to ship overseas is an option, but it comes at a high price for you and your buyers. Fulfillment by Merchant is possible from the EU, but you have to must handle 3rd party storage and distribution.
When selling on Amazon Europe, if you choose Fulfillment by Amazon, your home marketplace has to be overseas, but you have options between single or multi-country distribution.
FBM can take place from the US or EU and both come with a unique set of challenges. Keeping and distributing your product from the US might seem simpler but will actually be more costly since you have to pay international shipping fees per order, which can range anywhere from $22 to a couple hundred dollars.
FBM from the EU can lower exorbitant shipping costs, but you have to research reputable 3rd party distribution centers to set up storage and manage shipping from their facility. And, you may still not be Prime eligible.
If you’re considering FBA, there are three options: European Fulfillment Network (EFN), Multi-country Inventory (MCI) or Pan-European FBA, each with their own pros, cons and fee structures.
EFN allows you to store and ship your product from the Amazon EU distribution center of your choice, shipping to other countries when ordered. It also allows for Prime eligibility.
MCI allows sellers to store their product in multiple countries’ distribution centers and to be Prime eligible in each country where stock is held.
Pan-Euro FBA allows Prime eligibility in all 5 countries with storage in one distribution warehouse, but Amazon redistributes product stock to other countries’ warehouses based on where they perceive demand will be highest.
3. Research your international legal obligations, or hire someone else to
While you can do the research and contact the right overseas parties yourself, it may be best to save yourself a headache and just hire a lawyer if you don’t have one already. A lawyer specialized in international law can outline the legal, tax and compliance obligations you must follow in each country, as well as determine the specific EU labeling and warranty laws you are obligated to observe.
In many cases, Europe is stricter than the US in terms of labeling and product compliance, with conformity markings that are EU-wide as well as specific product restrictions and compliance obligations that are distinct within each country. Investing in quality assistance could save you from future legal nightmares or having your listing removed for lack of compliance.
4. Register for a VAT and EORI number
Unless you plan to sell FBM from the US, you will need to apply for both a Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. An EORI number is required by all merchants selling overseas (FBA or FBM) in order to import goods, and unless you’re selling a low-cost product that you believe will have low profit margins (which is rarely the aim), then you’ll need to register for VAT too.
VAT is essentially a consumption tax applied to the value of goods and services bought and sold in the EU. Unlike in the US, where tax is added near the end of a transaction, in the EU, VAT taxes are incorporated into retail prices, and these taxes must be reported and sent to the government. *
5. Address language barriers
Although there is no requirement to provide customer service in the language of each country you are selling in, doing so will significantly boost the customer experience and has the potential to increase sales. Your listing’s copy, however, MUST be in the language of the country you are selling to.
If you sell FBA, you have access to Amazon’s 24/7 customer service team in the language of the marketplace where it was purchased. Amazon does not translate the listing into the local language, so whether you sell FBM or FBA, your listing must be readable for the local population. The best, and most profitable option would be to either hire a reputable translation service or find a company with local-speaking copywriters to write the international Amazon listing for you.
Even in countries like the UK where English is spoken, there are different words and colloquialisms that US sellers would be wise to take into account when building relevant keyword lists and listing products. For example, if you’re selling a water pitcher in the UK, calling it a pitcher may not be as profitable since many across the pond use the term jug and would be less likely to search for pitcher.
6. Localize your listing(s)
Beyond localizing in terms of language online, most EU countries require labels and packaging materials to be in the local language. This is another area where an international business lawyer could assist in terms of proper compliance. And, when listing, don’t forget that the EU uses the metric system for all their measurements, so a 7 inch long phone case would actually be 18 centimeters.
Sellers should also keep in mind the constantly fluctuating conversion rate between the dollar and the pound or euro when determining price point. In addition to language, metric and pricing differences, categories are also unique within each country, and consumer expectations of appropriate products for specific categories may differ as well.
With these considerations in mind, you can begin to imagine what it will take and what selling on Amazon Europe might cost. Research and seeking out the proper resources is key when listing and selling overseas. Head over to amazon.de or amazon.co.uk and research your product markets using Market Intelligence International. You can scope out the competition and start calculating potential profit. When you’re ready to cross the pond, schedule an international launch in your Viral Launch dashboard, and start dominating selling on Amazon Europe.
“Going global.” We’ve all heard it right? Maybe one of the biggest buzz phrases in today’s technological world, especially for those in e-commerce.
Although Amazon US is without a doubt the largest, most profitable Amazon market, there is still a wealth of opportunity to be had on Amazon’s international sites, especially in Europe. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should be considering internationalization to Amazon Europe:
1. Expand Your Sales Potential
For starters, expanding into other Amazon marketplaces, namely the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, puts you in front of more consumers. Simple as that. In fact, it puts you in front of potentially 230 million more consumers.
While there are additional costs associated with selling internationally, the doubling in customer exposure and potential increase in sales is undoubtedly worth the price.
Since Brexit, Amazon UK sales have actually increased, and retail sales overall in European markets are on the rise, whereas US retail sales growth has been declining in recent years (more on that later). And, the average UK online shopper actually spends more annually than the average US online shopper, while German online shoppers are only marginally behind the US.
2. Smaller Markets = Less Competition
Another positive of Amazon Europe is smaller markets. You might be asking, doesn’t that mean fewer consumers? While all 5 European markets combined have about the same consumer base as the US alone, the undeniable benefit of each country’s smaller market is fewer sellers.
Of the approximate 2 million active Amazon sellers worldwide, only around 200,000 are in Europe, meaning you will have significantly less competition for the products you sell in each market.
Sellers should consider if their product is one that will sell well in each market. Due to cultural differences and expectations, an item that might be a high seller in the US may not translate as well in Germany or Spain. Or, your product may be called something completely different in another market. For example, in the US, we say “oven mitts,” but in the UK, they say “oven gloves.” So do your market research before you list, but if it’s right for the market, the potential to thrive and make it to page 1 is much easier than in the US.
3. Grow as the Markets Grow
As mentioned earlier, the European online sales market has seen significant growth in recent years. Western Europe has seen a steady average of 12% growth in online retail sales from 2012 to 2017, and Southern Europe has an average of 18% growth each year. The US, on the other hand, has seen a decline in growth in the last 5 years, from 14.8% in 2013 to 12.8% in early 2017.
Sellers have the potential to enter in now as the market across Europe is quickly expanding, allowing their products and their brand to grow as the markets grow. For example, review quantities are extremely low compared to the US.
Back when reviews were this low on Amazon.com, many sellers were able to get into the market early, generate tons of reviews over time, claim market share, and heighten the barrier to entry for new products. As the Europe market continues to grow, market competition will increase, so it’s a perfect opportunity to start building your reviews now. Basically, get in early, before everyone else does.
4. Many Sellers are Afraid of Internationalization
While potentially very profitable, internationalization is a daunting prospect for many US sellers. There are language and cultural barriers, market variations, differences in consumer expectations, extra shipping costs and local taxes, exchange rates, customer service barriers and local regulations.
These factors can seem extremely intimidating, but Amazon is working to mitigate challenges, making it easier for sellers to cross the ocean into Europe, even going as far as allowing certain sellers to apply for an Amazon account manager who can help with European expansions.
Since many are still avoiding the jump across the pond, sellers willing to take the chance have the opportunity to establish their brand and product now, solidifying a buyer base before other sellers land on the market.
5. Amazon is Seeking to Grow International Markets
In efforts to encourage sellers to go global, Amazon has significantly boosted their EU marketplace services in the last several years. While you do not have to be an FBA seller to sell internationally, Amazon makes the process incredibly streamlined if you are.
Anyone can sell across all 5 EU marketplaces under one single seller account, but non-FBA sellers must handle their own shipping and customer service. If you sell internationally as an FBA seller, you can send your products to an Amazon EU fulfilment center for storage and shipping, your products are Prime eligible, and you have access to each of Amazon’s language-specific 24/7 customer service platforms. Sounds like a pretty good gig if you ask me…
Need Help With International Launches?
Whether you’re looking to grow into just the UK market, or you’re interested in all 5 Amazon Europe marketplaces, the rewards have great potential if you have a product that will resonate culturally.
Lucky for you, Viral Launch is already offering product launches in Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. And, they’re discounted (for now, anyways)! So when you’re ready to cross the pond, Viral Launch is ready to get you ranking and launch you to Amazon Europe success!
Bonus:Market Intelligence, Viral Launch’s Amazon product research tool is now available for international markets! You can validate your Amazon Europe product ideas, see accurate sales estimates, and understand market trends in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, India, Mexico, and China. Start researching today, both for the US market and internationally, with the most sophisticatedAmazon product research tool available!