Whether you’re a seasoned seller or reasonably new to the Amazon scene, you’re always looking to take your business to the next level. The challenge is how to achieve that goal. Once you’ve become successful selling on the domestic markets, it’s time to turn your attentions to Amazon’s network of global marketplaces.
Savvy Amazon sellers have been taking advantage of Amazon’s global marketplaces for years. With marketplaces in 11 regions – very nearly 12 with Australia’s imminent launch at the time of writing – and customers in over 180 countries, Amazon provides all the opportunities to get in front of new markets and broaden your consumer reach.
Retail as we know it is rapidly changing as consumers purchase more products online rather than in traditional brick and mortar stores. Take Canada for example, online sales are expected to reach almost 29 billion Canadian dollars by 2021, up from 18.3 billion in 2016. Ecommerce in Europe is growing exponentially and the online retail industry is expected to be worth around 602 billion euros by the end of 2017. That’s 14% growth on 2016 figures.
Japan is the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market and online sales are to reach some $111.3billion in 2017 with anticipated growth to $134.1 billion by 2019. And let’s not forget about China. It’s the world’s largest online seller’s market by far with at least 649 million online shoppers in the country – that’s double the entire population of the United States! Additionally China’s ecommerce market generated an enormous $899.09 billion in sales in 2016.
As the world changes its shopping habits and turns more and more to online stores, the opportunity is there for you to take advantage of new buying holidays such as the Lunar / Chinese New Year in APAC, Carnival and Bonfire night in the UK, and Epiphany and Women’s Day in mainland Europe.
Where do you start?
You could look to the big markets in Europe where Germany and the UK lead the way. And, the European Unified Account (EUA) allows you to create and manage your product offerings, listing and pricing from a single seller account for one subscription. Or you could look closer to home and start in Canada to test the waters. Your North American Unified Account (NAUA) operates in the same way as the EUA as your monthly Amazon subscription fee already covers you for selling into Canada, so there’s no additional cost. Amazon Australia is primed to launch as we write which is forecast to be another huge market for English speakers. No matter which region you pick though, first things first, you need to determine whether your products are eligible to sell into the region.
This is where you’ll need to research the relevant local product laws and check that your products conform to them and equally that they’re appropriate for your target region. For example, in Canada you’re required to have bi-lingual packaging (both French and English). And, in the UK and mainland Europe there are strict rules on the ingredients in health and beauty products. Or, realize that in the UK and the US standard mattress sizes differ, so your product might not be a good fit – literally! You can check product restrictions and other requirements via Amazon’s regulations page.
Now you’ve worked out where you’d like to expand your business, next you need to understand the fulfillment options available and the tax and regulation requirements specific to the region you’ve chosen. In the first place, you’ll need to choose between Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or self-fulfillment. With FBA, Amazon will handle all returns and fulfillment questions, but any non-fulfillment questions will be your responsibility so ensure you have timely local language customer support. While with self-fulfillment everything will rest with you. But there are other requirements you’ll need to meet in each region. In Japan for example, an FBA seller will need to appoint an Attorney of Custom Procedures to act as an Importer of Record. And in the UK and mainland Europe you’re required to collect and then pay VAT, the equivalent of US sales tax, on all sales. In China, you need to have a legal entity that’s established outside of mainland China and a business license that’s issued by the Chinese government.
Once you’ve navigated all of these new requirements successfully for your chosen region, you need an effective strategy in place to manage how you get the revenue you earn back home.
How do you bring your sales back?
You could use the marketplace solution. While this may be convenient, it can be costly and leaves you with little to no control or transparency to the exchange rate used to bring your funds back home. Alternatively, you could set up a local bank account, but in addition to needing an entity in that country, they often come with associated holding fees and a lack of transparency on the rate used again.
A specialist service like WorldFirst can help you bring your money back at competitive rates and exceptional customer service. We can open in-country receiving accounts for free. The marketplace transfers your earnings to the account and you can choose when to bring your funds home using our online platform or by speaking with our account managers. You need a solution that both allows you visibility to the currency exchange rate, and access tools to help protect you against potential volatility in the exchange rates. We’re able to open in-country receiving accounts in the UK, US, Europe, Canada, Japan, China and Australia.
As global eCommerce becomes more accessible to sellers and shopping habits change, it’s becoming easier to make cross border distribution a reality for your business. While each region brings with it differences in regulations and culture, the opportunity to grow your business remains. The only consistent factor with international expansion is that currency rates fluctuate and could make a big difference to your bottom line. While you may never be able to predict which way the currency market is going to move, WorldFirst can help you protect your margins and grow your business globally.
World First USA Inc. can help you pay suppliers, vendors, and taxes overseas. We’d love to help you take hold of the global markets. Find out more on our website or register here to get started.
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