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Expanding overseas with Amazon

Are you ready to expand your Amazon business internationally?

Is there any easier way to expand your business internationally than with Amazon? It has the reach, the audience and the infrastructure to help you set up your stall on international shores.

Let’s look at the numbers. With over 300 million active customers across the globe, Amazon also has a dedicated consumer base of 150 million paid Prime members. Servicing these customers are 175 fulfilment centres worldwide covering over 150 million square feet, as well as 17 country-specific marketplaces. There are only 5 countries in the entire world which Amazon can’t accept orders for (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria).

Clearly then, Amazon has the reach, the audience and the infrastructure to help you set up your stall on international shores. But it’s by no means easy, and there are plenty of factors you’ll need to consider if you want to make an impact overseas.

So, before you ask yourself exactly how you’re going to do it, ask yourself the following questions first.

Where do you want to go?

It seems an obvious question, but being clear about which market you want to branch out into will have a huge impact on your success.

Do you want to travel to an established market such as Europe or North America, or is the prospect of an emerging market like Singapore more appealing? Each market has its own benefits, but you’ll need to be realistic about what you can achieve and where.

For instance, the US may offer the highest audience and revenue, but with 499,000 active sellers on it’s also highly saturated. Wherever you want to make your mark, ask yourself: “am I going to stand out?” And, if you want to answer that question, have you factored in the time to complete a thorough competitor analysis?

On top of where you want to go is the question of what you’re going to sell there. It may be tempting to make your entire product catalogue available and hope to basically mirror your success at home, but remember that what sells in the UK won’t necessarily sell on the other side of the world.

We tend to find that it’s best to focus on those products which are performing well in the main country you’re operating from. Once you’ve got some solid foundations, you can then look to introduce a wider range of products slowly over time.

Remember, different territories have different seasonal holidays and peak sales times. Are there any products in your catalogue which you can use to take advantage of these periods, or are there any new products you can introduce? Better yet, can you schedule your expansion to coincide with a season of peak traffic?

How much paperwork will you need?

It’s crucial that you understand the laws, taxes and regulations required to sell products through Amazon in your new country of choice. Questions over VAT, storage, shipping, product categories and restrictions will all need to be answered before you can even think of setting up your brand store.

Thankfully, Amazon is usually fairly helpful when it comes to the stresses of paperwork. A good example of this is VAT Services on Amazon. In the wake of Brexit, you now need to have VAT registered for each European country you’re holding stock in. Depending on how many countries you cover, that could be a lot of paperwork. So, rather than doing it all yourself, you can let Amazon deal with all the tricky VAT fine print, and you can focus on running your business instead.

The other question is how you’re going to fulfil your orders. When it comes to Europe, your greatest friend is probably Pan-European FBA, which allows you to store and distribute your products in fulfilment centres throughout Europe at no additional cost. Storing products closer to your customers, Pan-European FBA makes it possible to move stock throughout Europe as long as you have VAT registered in those other EU countries.

But this is just one territory, and just one example of the legal traps you’ll need to avoid. If the paperwork ever seems too much to handle, it’s worth asking whether Amazon can do anything to make your life easier – because usually, the answer to that question is yes.

Do you have the firepower?

When launching into a new market, it’s good practice to think of it almost like a new product launch. That means you need to be thinking of every trick in the book to take your launch as far as possible.

If you’re selling products which are currently listed on Amazon in the UK, then you have a lifeline here. All you need to do is add that same product/ASIN into your new marketplace and it should automatically pull through any existing reviews and product details, meaning all your hard work at home won’t go to waste.

Selling entirely new products instead? You may have to start from scratch, so you need to make sure you’re prepared to do the groundwork. Features like Amazon Vine will help generate reviews for your products, but the importance of vouchers and advertising cannot be understated.

Have you set aside some budget for advertising? What products are best suited to a discount voucher? Make no mistake, strategic advertising has the power to make or break your launch into a new Amazon market.

This brings up another crucial question: will your new customers be able to read your adverts, or your product descriptions for that matter? Enhanced Brand Content (also known as A+ Content) is vital to the success of any product, but remember that you will need to translate everything into the local language. It’s a simple point, but one you’ll need to have a solution to.

Do you have what it takes?

The point of all these questions isn’t to dissuade you from growing your business overseas. Far from it. Amazon offers the most streamlined route to reaching an international audience, and it’s an option you should always have in the back of your mind.

But it’s important that you answer these questions before rather than after you start the expansion process. Otherwise, you could find yourself out of your depth very quickly.

All of these questions form the basis of a wider international launch strategy. If you want to expand overseas, and you want to do it properly, get in touch and we’ll walk you through the whole process.