Being an Amazon Seller When Living Outside of the Target Country Marketplace
Amazon has 10 marketplaces worldwide. But only a small proportion of Amazon Sellers choose to sell internationally. This could be because people are intimidated about accessing or fully making the most of international marketplaces. However, with the right information and a concrete international business plan and storefront design, the task doesn’t have to be difficult! With nine extra marketplaces than the one you are already selling in, why not look at diversifying? Looking further afield and growing your business internationally, for greater financial gains for your e-commerce business?
As every successful Amazon seller will know, a lot of time and effort goes into building your brand online, and testing and fine-tuning what works for your e-commerce business. Selling internationally should not just be a pipe dream. If you’ve already successfully built your brand in your marketplace, why not look to expanding to one or more extra marketplaces? The confidence that consumers have all over the world in the Amazon buying process, which comes mainly through name recognition and prior experience, means that you don’t have to shoulder the upfront cost of building your brand once more internationally.
How do I choose where to sell internationally?
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably likely that you are already selling on amazon.com, Amazon’s US marketplace - or you’re planning on starting your e-commerce business here. Amazon’s US marketplace is still the biggest: while this can mean it’s more competitive sometimes, the opportunities for selling on Amazon’s US marketplace - with their 30 million active users making the world’s biggest online shopping economy - means if your e-commerce site is going to be successful, it’s most likely going to be here. Amazon.com can be a great starting point for your business, but it is very competitive across most categories, so where do you look when you’re considering selling further afield?
Amazon’s UK marketplace is much smaller than it’s US marketplace: but still, this is often a lucrative option for those considering to sell internationally from the US. Due to the similar cultural landscape and shopping habits, many products that do well in the US marketplace will also succeed in the UK. Secondly, you don’t need to invest time or money into translating your product descriptions, keywords or thinking about how to make your business more culturally relevant to the UK. With the shared language - except for a few changes in spelling - the UK could be the perfect place for you to launch and enter your e-commerce site into the European market.
However, if you’re willing to adapt your brand to a country with a different language, the best choice for you could actually be Germany. amazon.de is the second biggest Amazon market after the US, making up nearly one-third of Amazon’s international net sates in 2017: with this number of shoppers, your products are sure to get the attention they deserve. Furthermore, with many other international sellers being put off by having to adapt their brand and products to another language, your flexibility may just give you the edge. The ratio of sellers to consumers is far higher in the UK: so selling in Germany might be the perfect way to help you and your business stand out from the crowd. Underbar!
There are a couple of approaches to international selling that we here at Seller’s Choice would recommend that you avoid. Although it may be tempting to try and expand internationally to the Chinese marketplace, as it’s often assumed that this will be lucrative, adapting your businesses to a new culture and different way of selling is often much more difficult than it seems. With other successful e-commerce sites like Alibaba and a different culture of commerce, the Chinese marketplace can be a hard one to tap. If you’re looking to sell to the Canadian marketplace for ease, you might want to think again. Although it’s predicted that the Canadian marketplace is on the rise, so those of you who like to gamble might be keen, in the short term it’s far more lucrative to look to the UK or Germany.
Once you’ve decided on which country you would like to target, here are the next steps:
1) Consider your products
Even though your products may be selling well in the US marketplace, it may be that they aren’t as successful in an international marketplace. The first point to consider is whether your products comply with all the laws in the country you are looking to expand your e-commerce business too. You should extensively research the product standards in this country too, to ensure that your products comply. A good place to start your research is on Amazon’s regulations page: And be sure to price your products correctly.
2) Consider the language
Language proficiency is necessary for providing effective customer support when expanding your business overseas. It’s actually a requirement for selling on a new Amazon marketplace unless you’re using Fulfilment by Amazon. Amazon has some tools which can assist you in this regard. Firstly, the Seller Central Language Switcher, which translates your product descriptions, and the entire operation, to the language of the marketplace you are entering. Secondly, you can create an Amazon European Marketplace account, which allows you to manage and create your product offers and ads over the 5 marketplaces in Europe.
Even with these tools, however, it’s still very useful to have proficiency in the language of that country. This can not only assist you in customer support, but also is a vital component of conducting your country-specific research, understanding how to best market your products, and knowing how to adapt your marketing, copy, or packaging to most effectively target this new demographic of customers.
3) Pricing Strategies
There are some additional costs you need to consider when thinking about expanding to a new Amazon marketplace:
- Shipping costs
- International returns costs
- If you’re using Fulfilment by Amazon, there are also shipping costs to the international Fulfillment centers
- Translation or international customer support costs
- Currency conversion costs
- Taxes and duties
4) Marketing Factors to Consider
As we mentioned, selling internationally on Amazon can be lucrative due to name recognition, and how Amazon has a trusted buyer experience. While you can adapt and make the most of this clout, it’s also worth considering how you can build a following in your brand identity overseas. Some things you might want to consider are fine-tuning your website to establish and build trust in your brand identity, how to grow your Instagram following and your following on other social media sites.
Instagram is a great way to grow your international brand identity. With its image focussed content and new tools such as Instagram stories, consumers gain access to your products around the world. And it’s in a format that they actually relate to: advertising and branding fit in seamlessly with the other media users of Instagram are viewing, and thus they are far more open to adverts than on other social media sites. It's the perfect way to celebrate your target audience, display how your products can be used and their main features, and show off your branding and brand identity.
When considering how to grow your Instagram following internationally, remember to research the demographics of your target audiences around the world, and to create branding guidelines that target them specifically. For example, if you’re an e-commerce cosmetics business in the US, looking to expand your market to the UK and Germany, through research you will discover that one of the biggest trends sweeping this market in these countries is sustainability. To target this new trend on Instagram, and a younger, socially conscious demographic of consumers, you could release content on your Instagram account which displays the sustainability of your packaging and products. You might choose a color palette that reflects nature, such as earthy green tones, and share motivational messages and statistics about saving the planet and recycling. A focussed approach such as this is bound to grow your Instagram following, and grow your success internationally.
one of the easiest possible ways to expand your e-commerce business internationally is by using another of Amazon’s marketplaces. They have ready-made tools to help you adapt to a new market and demographics, language, and culture. Although Amazon's name recognition does most of the hard work for you, so you can easily enter a new marketplace, don’t rely totally on this! The general rules of good branding and creating a solid brand identity, especially on Instagram, still apply - especially when trying to build trust, and a following, in your brand overseas.