How to Sell in Mexico
by Matt Ellis
Saying your company “went south” may sound bad, but with Amazon’s recent investment in Mexico and Amazon.com.mx, going south might be a company’s most profitable course of action.
Last time we spoke about expanding into European markets, but you don’t need to cross an ocean to expand internationally. With the help of Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon"), it’s never been easier to open up shop with our neighbors to the south. But what does opening an Amazon account in Mexico really entail? And is it worth it?
Today, I'll discuss how to expand into Mexico using Amazon services, and whether or not it’s right for your company. But first, let’s explore your two main options: shipping to Mexico from the U.S. versus shipping within Mexico.
Shipping From the US vs. Shipping from Mexico
Before setting up an account for Amazon Mexico (Amazon.com.mx), first determine whether or not you need to. You can always ship products to Mexico from the U.S. without renting storage space in Mexico or registering a new Amazon account.
If you already have a successful business on Amazon in the U.S. (Amazon.com), all you have to do is enable international shipping on your listings. Amazon.com receives a fair amount of shoppers from Mexico, so it could add a small bump in business if you’re prepared to ship internationally.
Amazon even helps you acquire Mexican shipping labels through Buy Shipping Services. It’s worth noting that Amazon recommends using FedEx, DHL, or UPS, not the USPS. For shipments to Mexico, the USPS uses the Correos de México/Servicio Postal Mexicano (SEPOMEX), which does not meet Amazon’s international shipping time requirements.
However, shipping to Mexico from an American account is only a half-measure. The number of Mexican shoppers is obviously bigger on Amazon.com.mx than on Amazon.com, so if you’re targeting south-of-the-border markets aggressively, you’ll get more traction with an account on Amazon Mexico. There are a few reasons for this:
- Home country always wins. Amazon shoppers always prefer the marketplace of their own country, and Mexico is no exception. Shipping to Mexico from a U.S. account means most Amazon shoppers in Mexico won’t even see your product listings in the first place.
- Language barriers. In eCommerce, it’s vital to establish trust before a purchase. If you’re not using the shopper’s first language, they may be confused about your policies, how a product works, specifications, etc., and use the barrier as an excuse not to buy.
- Higher shipping fees & longer delivery. Shipping internationally incurs extra fees (either for you or the customer), not to mention it takes longer to deliver. For these reasons, many Mexican shoppers prefer to buy from Amazon.com.mx and avoid these hassles altogether.
- Shipment hazards. Some sellers report shipments getting lost or never arriving. There are also stories of scammers taking advantage of the border-crossing confusion.
- Shipping confirmations. Another drawback is that international shipments require a signature on delivery, adding another opportunity for something to go wrong.
- Returns. Returns from Mexican shipments are twice as risky because you have to go through all the obstacles of international shipping a second time, and perhaps a third, if you’re sending a replacement.
What this boils down to is that there are two different options for selling to Mexico, depending on your commitment. If you’re just looking for a minor expansion, perhaps a handful of extra orders, you don’t need to open an Amazon.com.mx account and can handle the Mexican gatekeepers when they arise. But if you’re strategically targeting Mexican markets, you should go all out and move some of your inventory to Mexico.
As with all shipping issues, you have to choose between Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). Read this guide on the pros and cons of each to see which is best for your business.
How to Open an Amazon Mexico Seller Account
To sell on Amazon Mexico, you need what’s called a North American Unified Account, which permits selling to both Mexico and Canada.
You may already have a Unified Account and not know it, since some newer accounts are registered automatically. The quickest way to check is to look at the Language Switcher in Seller Central; if there are options for other countries, you’re already good to go. If not, don’t worry, as applying is relatively easy.
For Americans, this requires approval from Amazon Seller Support. If your current seller account is healthy, this should not be a problem and can be handled in a short time. Simply request support here.
For individual sellers in Canada, the process is the same. Professional sellers in Canada automatically have access to Amazon.com.mx.
One note about brand registry: if you were approved for a North American Unified Account before you approved your brand in the brand registry, then your brands are automatically approved for Canada and Mexico. If not, you’ll have to resubmit for each new country you want approval in.
Last, you need to manage your inventory properly. This entails:
- Global SKUs. You’ll need to update marketplace-specific SKUs to global standards. In Seller Central, select the option for “Existing Offer” when you create a marketplace offer to give the product a global SKU.
- Enable FBM listings. If you’re choosing the FBM route, go to the Build International Listing tool and choose your source marketplace.
- Verify pricing and shipping costs. Amazon automatically adjusts your prices and shipping based on the country — including direct currency conversion. Modify them as needed, such as compensating for international shipping, return policies or taxes.
FBM runs into shipping complications and extra fees, so FBA might be more effective if you anticipate a lot of sales.
How to Use FBA in Mexico
For many sellers, FBA Mexico is the preferable alternative to international shipping because it simplifies shipping and cuts down on both fees and delivery time. Plus, services like America Ship make it easy to transfer your inventory to Mexico. Aside from logistics advantages, there’s still a couple other perks:
- You don’t need an “RFC ID,” the Mexican Tax ID. A proper shipping company will provide this for you. If you’re using a third party and an agent requests this number, it may be phishing scam.
- Returns can be sent to the Amazon warehouses in Mexico. From there, you can choose what to do with them, whether returning them to the States or leaving them with your other Mexican inventory.
If you tried selling in Mexico a few years ago to lackluster results, things have changed and will continue to change in the near future. Following speculation on NAFTA changes, Amazon announced plans to expand their presence in Mexico.
Research and Test
As I mentioned in the previous article about selling to Europe, expanding into foreign markets isn’t always the best move; it all depends on how your products fit into the country’s market. Selling in Mexico may be a huge improvement for some companies, but for others it may flop (or even cost you money, depending on how you handle international shipping).
First and foremost, you want to conduct a little market research into whether or not your products will sell in Mexico. You may even want to do a test run with a few products before sending a large chunk of your inventory across the border. Good luck!
Originally published on April 19, 2018, updated August 19, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.