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Ask any Amazon seller about their long-term goals, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll tell you about their plans to take their brand international. For many sellers however, this goal stays permanently fixed on the horizon, relegated to the ever growing ‘one day’ list inbetween ‘finally write that killer screenplay’ and ‘run the New York marathon’. In other words – for most sellers, selling internationally is oftentimes a fantasy, seldom a reality.
We think this is a shame, because the hard work and money you’ve put on sourcing and branding your product for one marketplace represents a valuable asset that is barely a hop, skip and a jump away from being used to replicate your success on an international stage.
If you are serious about picking up another Amazon global marketplace, the first step is to choose one. Here’s what you need to know about the most common international Amazon marketplaces, so you can discover which is the best one for you to cut your teeth on and enter the lucrative world of cross-border trade.
Chances are if you’re reading this you’re already selling on the US version of Amazon. It’s the original and in many ways still the best. The available market is huge with over 300 million active users, and with FBA taking away the need for your own logistics setup, there has never been less standing in the way ordinary people getting a foot in the door of the world’s biggest online shopping economy.
Whilst there’s no denying .com is the most competitive marketplace it is also by far the biggest, so even a tiny slice of such a huge pie is going to be worth your time.
Amazon.com is a great starting point for anyone new to Amazon or to sellers who have had success with their brand in other countries and want to use marketplaces to reach a larger audience.
Most .com sellers second choice of marketplaces is the good ol’ United Kingdom. Sure, whilst the market is markedly smaller than that of its older sibling across the pond, its $12 billion in yearly revenue is nothing to sneeze at.
A similar cultural base, comparable shopping behaviours and an English speaking population makes selling to the Brits an attractive proposition for sellers looking to grow their international presence.
The good news here is that you don’t have to be a technical SEO whiz to give your products a leg-up on Amazon, there are plenty of easy steps you can take to ensure your listings are optimised for Amazon’s A9 algorithm to be able to find and serve your products for customer searches.
US sellers looking to pick up another marketplace or anyone looking for a launchpad into Europe should consider amazon.co.uk.
If there’s one thing ze Germans love more than pretzels the size of your face, it’s spending money on Amazon. In fact, Germany is the next biggest Amazon market after the US with a whopping $16 billion in yearly revenue. Despite amazon.de having a market over 30% bigger than the UK, its roughly 49,000 sellers is 20% less than the 60,000+ sellers currently on amazon.co.uk.
More sales, less competition, it’s a no brainer – so why are so many more sellers opting to sell into the UK? We can probably chalk it up to apprehension about the language barrier, and maybe there’s 10,000 sellers out there who don’t know you can list on amazon.de in English, or just how easy and affordable it is to get your listings translated for you.
With the ratio of audience size compared to number of sellers, plus the continued revenue growth in amazon.de sellers should be licking their lips over more than just the German beer.
Sellers in competitive categories, sellers looking to get a foothold in Europe or sellers able to invest a little more time into optimising listings for a foreign language.
One of the most common mistakes sellers make when weighing up their options for going global is overstating the opportunity of selling on Amazon in China; far too often the perception and the reality simply don’t add up.
Selling in China is hard, and even some of the world’s most successful brands have tried and failed. Western brands underestimate just how little they understand about Chinese culture and how much it varies by region, and to expect success where so many others have failed is wishful thinking.
Firstly, the amount of effort required to sell on Amazon in China goes well beyond any other Amazon marketplace. You’ll need to register your company in China, amazon.cn isn’t linked to any other countries seller centrals and unlike Germany you’ll have a great deal of difficulty navigating your way onto Amazon China without speaking the language.
Secondly, Chinese consumers are split into two camps – the growing middle class and affluent with disposable income who like to buy popular foreign brands and are willing to pay top dollar for them, or the low-income households (which make up the vast majority of the population) who have minimal disposable income and shop based on price.
Therefore, to compete in China you either need to sell products that undercut the very same manufacturers that you’re sourcing them from (which is effectively impossible) or build your brand to the point where it as recognisable as Nike or Doc Martins (which is even less likely) to appeal to the wealthy.
Well-known brands or sellers with the ability to supply well-known brands competitively to the Chinese market with pre-existing brand recognition and demand for the brand.
Australian’s will remember 1999 for a vote on becoming a republic, a victory in the cricket world cup and the end of Hey, Hey it’s Saturday’s epic 27-year run. All of this feels like ancient history now, so it might be surprising to learn that 1999 was also the year that eBay.com.au first opened its virtual doors and kicked off the first wave of the online shopping revolution down under.
Fast forward 18 years and Amazon’s fashionable late entrance to the Australian ecommerce party is finally just around the corner.
International sellers with little to no exposure to the land where thongs are worn on your feet and toilet water spins the wrong way might be asking themselves ‘should I sell on Amazon Australia?’. With the official launch coming any day now, let’s evaluate that opportunity.
Australia is a relatively small nation of just 24 million, but what makes it particularly unique for ecommerce is its sparse geography. With a relatively small population spread over a landmass more than 31 times that of the UK, Amazon will certainly face a unique set of challenges replicating it’s FBA business model when the average distance between capital cities is well over 1,000 kms (620 miles).
On the plus side, Australia’s retail landscape has been traditionally characterised by high sales margins, near impenetrable barriers to entry and low levels of competition thanks to a system of duopolies and ‘big players’ across almost every consumer segment. Add this to an online shopping experience most comparable with that enjoyed in North America in the early 2000s, it is safe to say ecommerce in Australia is ripe for a major shake-up.
As unpredictable as any Amazon launch can be, there are a lot of the right ingredients to make amazon.com.au worth your attention particularly considering the first mover advantage of getting your products listed early.
Australian based sellers, strategic sellers who can make the most of the opportunity to get in first with product rankings, sellers looking for another English-speaking marketplace.
It could just be that the Canucks are too polite to stop buying from their local bricks and mortar stores, but for whatever reason ecommerce has taken a little longer to take off than their neighbours to the south. Despite lagging behind in the past, there are finally signs of life
The most attractive thing about going north if you already have a .com seller account is the ease. Test the waters by enabling .ca from your seller central account and you can have your FBM and FBA products sold on the Canadian Amazon but shipped from The US. If all goes well, you can double-down and start shipping products into Canadian fulfilment centres or setup your own logistics base in the country.
Despite being a smaller market, it is also a less competitive one so for the strategic Amazon seller you will find it a lot easier to rank and market products successfully.
Sellers on .com looking to test the waters of international selling without increasing investment in logistics, strategic sellers who can optimise and market products successfully.
Just like Canada, amazon.com.mx is a free kick for anyone already selling in the states and its easy to setup. With only 12% of the population speaking English, enlisting the services of someone who can translate your listings is a worthwhile investment if that’s all that stands in the way of extending your brand to be present in the entire North American region.
If you’re serious about expanding into Canada and Mexico, this article outlines all the necessary steps to sell in all three North American Amazon marketplaces.
Sellers looking to have a presence in the entire North American region who are already selling in US and Canada.
For most sellers it’s probably best to keep this one up your sleeve until you’ve mastered the English-speaking regions, but there’s no denying the opportunity presented by amazon.jp.
If your heart is set on entering the Asian market, we would definitely advise Japan before China. There’s a little less red tape and despite the language barrier the consumer culture isn’t so different from the US or UK to prevent you from replicating a successful product.
Veteran sellers who have the time and proven strategy required to be successful in this region.