The e-commerce giant continues its global expansion in Europe.
On Tuesday, March 2nd, Amazon expanded its reach by launching its Polish marketplace, Amazon.pl.
Upon launching, Amazon.pl boasts more than 100 million products across more than 30 categories, making it one of the company’s most expansive launches yet. As global e-commerce continues growth accelerated by the pandemic, the launch of yet another marketplace signals the world’s largest online retailer is still growing.
“We are thrilled to launch Amazon.pl and to be able to offer Polish customers a selection of more than 100 million products, including tens of thousands of products from local Polish businesses.”
Alex Ootes, VP of EU Expansion at Amazon, to Reuters
While not without competition from e-commerce companies such as Poland-based Allegro, the arrival of Amazon into any marketplace or industry undoubtedly changes its landscape.
For Amazon sellers, it’s worthwhile to monitor Amazon’s steady expansion into new countries, as they often provide an opportunity to get your brand in front of a global audience. In most instances, Amazon’s fulfillment network makes it convenient for existing sellers to be listed in international marketplaces.
Additionally, making your products available sooner on any Amazon marketplace could pay off handsomely if the new market adopts it as the e-commerce marketplace of choice. If you’re a seller looking to grow internationally with Amazon, you can get started here.
The addition of an Amazon marketplace in Poland brings Amazon’s total marketplaces to 19, spanning North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The 19 Amazon Global Marketplaces as of March 2021
The Amazon Poland Launch comes less than six months after the arrival of Amazon Sweden. While no announcements regarding further expansion have been made, we’ll be monitoring Amazon’s ongoing expansion efforts.
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.
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.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!