Part 1: Selling on Amazon
Those few words can strike fear into the hearts of retailers. It’s big, it’s daunting, it’s...
If you’re looking to expand your business and sell in one of Amazon’s other online marketplaces outside of your base country, then you’re in the right place. Understanding all the business, legal and Amazon guidelines for each market is the key to knowing how to operate in Amazon international markets to grow your business globally.
Currently, Amazon has marketplaces in 13 countries on three continents, and includes the following regions and cities:
Asia - Pacific
Although selling internationally on Amazon has a host of benefits such as gaining immediate reach to potential customers who already trust Amazon, and eliminating the high costs of building an international business from scratch, there are a lot of considerations, prep and legal hoops you will need to jump through to do it properly and legally.
To branch out to an international marketplace, you will need to create separate seller accounts for each country you wish to expand in, or create a unified account per region - which we will go into further detail later on in the post. Plus, you will need to do a variety of things, depending on the country you plan to sell in, to make sure you are legal to sell in that marketplace.
In this guide, we will outline what you need to know about how to operate in Amazon’s international markets.
the legal aspects and business requirements of selling in that country. This goes beyond ensuring you are paying the right taxes and following Amazon’s rules for fulfillment, etc. It's about understanding the business laws of the country and following them to the letter.
In a lot of cases, especially in European marketplaces, this may include having to register a business in that foreign country. And with that, there are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. For instance, when using FBA to sell in Europe, you need to register for VAT in the UK and in Spain; the bureaucratic process can get very tricky to navigate, so do your homework.
You also need to consider the culture of the market you’re looking to enter and ensure your products not only appeal to shoppers there but that your marketing won’t offend, mislead or upset that audience. For example, what works for your US Amazon account and shopper may not be appropriate and/or effective in Germany or Japan.
With the legal and business differences come different tax laws per region, and it’s imperative that you follow the laws of the foreign market you’re entering. These differences are quite considerable.
For example, as a foreign seller on Amazon.com who is not a registered US taxpayer, you will need to provide Amazon with a Form W-8BEN in order to be exempt from US tax reporting requirements. In Europe, you will need to register for VAT, depending on where you store your inventory or the amount of revenue you earn. Plus, if you are a US seller, selling in our markets, you will also need to pay US tax on international income.
As you can see, tax is an essential component of growing your international business and should not be taken lightly. You can find Amazon’s list of tax information resources below:
Bottom line: you want to either consult an accountant in your home country or in that of the country you will be selling in, who is familiar with the international business, to help ensure you fully understand the tax implications.
Another big step in operating in Amazon’s international markets is ensuring that your fulfillment is within that marketplace’s guidelines for fulfillment as well as the country you plan on selling in. The most important consideration is that when selling in a foreign market and shipping from your own country, you will be the exporter on record and will need to find ways to counteract any customs or shipping delays that may arise, to avoid bad reviews. Plus, shipping internationally will be more expensive as you’ll also have to consider customs taxes and duties.
However, Amazon does provide a form of FBA (such as Amazon’s European Fulfillment Network - EFN) for each of its marketplaces, which will help take a lot of the logistics weight off your shoulders. It will allow you to export in bulk to save costs while helping you fulfill orders from countries closer to your selling destination.
Furthermore, multi-channel management software such as StoreAutomator will be a must in managing your channels and inventory, and being able to easily customize product data (override shipping/handling costs) per channel.
When it comes to customer service, the biggest Amazon international markets operation must-do is providing customer service in the native language of the country you are selling in. So if you’re selling in Germany, you need to be able to support your customers there in German. To achieve that, you need to either hire a native speaker to help with your foreign business or use Amazon’s local FBA, which will domestically cover your customer service in that country.
Bear in mind that you will need to ensure that all your Amazon product listings are translated to the country’s language, and therefore you will need to provide a professional translator.
Amazon’s unified accounts allow sellers to create one account per region instead of having separate accounts per country. Amazon has two unified accounts:
Each of these unified accounts differs slightly. For instance, with a North American account, you can create listings across all marketplaces within it without duplicating listings or having to switch accounts, while providing a single interface. With the European account, you will need to duplicate listings and be aware that account fees will be determined by which European country you first registered in.
In a nutshell, you need to have all your ducks in a row and do your research. Extending your business into foreign markets is tricky, particularly within Europe.
In the case of Europe, not only will you need to consider taxes, business laws and everything we’ve mentioned in this post, but you will need to be aware of European product compliance and consumer rights, parallel importation, environment, health and safety standards, intellectual property rights, and marking and labeling requirements. Additionally, some importation regulations may differ between countries in the EU and will be heavily dependent on your choice of shipping mode.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting you started:
Step 1: Select your home (primary) marketplace
Step 2: Choose between FMB or FBA fulfillment
Step 3: Research all legal obligations or hire an expert in European business logistics
Step 4: Register for EORI and VAT numbers
Step 5: Adapt listings and copy to home language
We suggest starting with Amazon’s Comprehensive Guide for Amazon Global Selling (AGS) before diving into any new markets. Also, it’s important to have your management software up and running to ensure efficient multi-channel selling. Stay tuned for more comprehensive guides on each region and country.
Nicole is an eCommerce business blogger, Small Biz consultant, and content managing wizard with over 16 years of experience. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she's not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she's an avid beachgoer, coffee shop junkie or hanging out on LinkedIn.