Originally published on October 28, 2016, updated August 20, 2020
Have you thought about expanding your Amazon sales to European marketplaces? Opening your brand to new countries could significantly increase your profits because you may be facing less competition for your products.
Carina McLeod of eCommerce Nurse recently shared her insights on the subject of Amazon Europe sales in a webinar with eComEngine. McLeod is a former Amazonian with 7 years of experience in the UK marketplace. She has the unique perspective of someone who understands the eCommerce world from within and as a seller.
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to expanding your brand to Europe, including:
You can watch the webinar above or check out the show notes below for the recap and a full transcript.
Are you interested in growing your private label brand or increasing your Amazon Europe sales? Maybe it’s time to consider offering your products in more marketplaces.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to growing a brand internationally. Carina McLeod of eCommerce Nurse recently shared her expertise in a webinar on the subject of selling in the Amazon Europe marketplaces.
Selling products in the European marketplaces can be a good starting point for brands that are looking to expand internationally for several reasons. Merchants can sell throughout the U.K. and Europe (including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) with a single unified Seller Central account.
Investing in Europe allows sellers to reach millions of new customers and test products without a high amount of risk. After all, as McLeod notes, “Sellers can start with a small FBA shipment.”
Merchants who are interested in offering their products in European marketplaces need to take the time to understand the culture of those marketplaces. Currency differs, and the exchange rate will make an impact on the bottom line, so it needs to be taken into consideration. Listings need to be translated into the dominant language for each marketplace and should be keyword-optimized in that language. Amazon will translate listings and manage customer service for sellers who fulfill orders through one of the European FBA programs.
For Americans who are interested in selling in the UK, it’s important to remember that there are nuances to British English. For example, Carina pointed out that “pants” means two different things. In America, “pants” are slacks, but in the UK, “pants” are underclothing. A buyer searching for slacks in the U.K. would search for “trousers.” It’s essential to understand how to reach the customer, because a seller who has not optimized listings for the local marketplace will lose potential sales.
There are a number of legal issues to consider when selling in a new country, so Carina recommends consulting with an attorney to ensure the local rules are being followed. European countries have different packaging and labeling requirements which must be met. Toys, medical devices, and certain electronics are the major categories where compliance with EU standards needs to be considered. Sellers should also consult with their suppliers about intellectual property rights and the accessible sales territory for their products.
There are a number of fulfillment options available for international sellers in the European marketplaces. Third-party companies can manage everything on a merchant’s behalf. McLeod notes that sellers need to apply for an EORI, which is a specific number required to import products, and have a plan in place for product returns. In the EU, a value added tax (VAT) is automatically included in retail prices. This needs to be taken into account when setting prices. If a seller is holding inventory in Europe, they will need to register for a VAT number.
Amazon’s European fulfillment options include:
Merchants can select one of these options or mix and match as needed for their products.
Sellers who are ready to start selling in Europe can begin by selecting their chosen marketplace and fulfillment option. Carina recommends consulting with a tax advisor as well as an attorney who is familiar with that marketplace prior to getting started, and then opening an EU seller account. Merchants can add listings to this account and use Amazon’s built-in tools to help translate and localize those descriptions.
As you begin building your brand presence in new markets, it's important to start getting seller feedback in each marketplace.
Colleen: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for our webinar on Selling on Amazon in Europe. My name is Colleen Quattlebaum, and I am the Business Development Manager for eComEngine. I'm joining you from eComEngine's headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. We have our featured presenter here with us today and that is Carina McLeod and she is with eCommerce Nurse. Carina is a former Amazonian who worked for Amazon UK and she's now an eCommerce expert and consultant who helps to support sellers, brands, and manufacturers on the Amazon platform. For those of you who are selling international already, might be new to selling international already, or you are considering expanding your business internationally into Europe, then this is definitely the right place to gain some additional insight on how to get started and help you grow your business. At the end of the presentation we will be opening it up for questions. Feel free to enter questions in the control panel there on the right-hand side of your screen in the GoToWebinar control panel as you think of them throughout the presentation. We will be sure to answer as many as possible at the end. We will be recording this webinar. I will be sure to send out a follow-up email with a link to the webinar so you can watch it again or share it with anyone else. We are including a few special offers at the end of the presentation. Please stick around. All right. At this point, I will go ahead and turn it over to Carina, so she can go ahead and get started on Selling on Amazon in Europe.
Carina: Thank you, Colleen. I hope you can all hear me and see my screen.
Colleen: Yes we can. Thank You, Carina.
Carina: Great. Okay. Well, welcome everybody to the webinar. Today I'm going to be talking about Amazon sales in Europe and how to get started. Some of you may already be on the call or on the webinar, because you're already familiar with Europe or you've heard about the potential and you want to know more. Some of you may already be familiar with selling on Europe, but you want to ensure that you haven't missed anything, and that you've covered all aspects before you take the plunge and work with Amazon in Europe. To start off, I'm going to first talk about why you should invest in Europe, the opportunity there. The key factors that you need to consider when selling to Europe, the different Amazon selling Seller Programs. In the US, it's very much FBA, or seller-fulfilled.
Carina: In Europe, there are a variety of programs to choose from. I'm going to explain all those in more detail? What country to start with? A question that I'm often asked. Will Brexit have an impact? Then getting started on Amazon. I will share with you eight steps to get you started to sell in Europe. Why invest in Europe?
Carina: The main reason to invest in Europe is, of course, that you can reach millions of new customers. If you think about the opportunity that you already have in the United States, think about almost doubling that by opening up your products and selling in Europe. There's huge potential there. Also with Amazon, you have access to sell in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. All of this can be done through one unified account. Similar to how you have in the US. You have one account and you can sell to the US, the Canada and Mexico.
Carina: It works the same in Europe, where you have one account, for example, the UK, and then you have the opportunity to sell to Germany, France, Spain, and Italy via that one unified account. Also, it's not only having access to these countries, there are also people that are purchasing these products from other countries in Europe. For example, somebody you could be reaching a customer in Belgium, that's purchasing a product from France as well. There's also less competition. This isn't necessarily always the case. But you might find that you are battling this huge amount of competition with the products that you're selling in the US.
Carina: But when you look at your products within Europe, you might find that actually there's less competition on those products. There's more opportunity for you to be able to gain that market share. One thing though, to note with competition, is that you need to ensure that if there is less competition and not many people are selling a similar product to you, that's not due to a ... because of a certain reason. For example, it might be that an item does particularly well in the US, it might have been tried in Europe, and it's just not a product for the European market. That's something that you also need to consider.
Carina: The great thing is that you can and you're entering a new market, and you're able to test the water with minimum risk. If you go FBA, effectively, you can send in a small shipment to, let's say, the UK and test the water. You don't have to invest lots of money by setting up warehousing, head office, and everything within Europe. You can first off just test the water and see if that opportunity is there. If there's an opportunity, and there's great demand for your products, then of course, that's something you can consider at a later date. If it sounds good, sounds like you want to invest in Europe, then you need to make that you consider the following factors.
Carina: First off is currency. In Europe, there are two currencies that are Euros in Mainland Europe, and then there is the Pound Sterling within the United Kingdom. It's really important to remember that you are dealing with different currencies because, of course, this will affect your bottom line. When your money, the money that you've earned from sales is transferred back to your account, you will incur foreign exchange fees. It's important to understand that we're only talking about a few percentage points, but it is something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Carina: Also, the language, now this is usually a typical one that everybody needs to take into consideration. That is about having to translate the information that you have on your listings in the US into the right language within Europe. Now, translations are not always mandatory. It's more about thinking about conversion. Okay. You could put an item on Germany in English, it could sell a few units, let's say, because some people, number of people speak English in Germany.
Carina: However, you'll see a far greater conversion, a higher conversion if you've actually taken the time to translate those products into that language, partly because not everybody speaks English. But also it's almost like a courtesy that you're showing that local, that country that you've invested and you've translated for them to be able to understand the product listings that you have on Amazon. The translations can be, as I mentioned, product contents that can be the titles, the features, the product descriptions, and also the keywords as well.
Carina: Now, keyword is something that's really important because you want to ensure that you have the right keywords for that country and for that language. When a customer is searching for your product, they will be able to find your product on the German website by you using that keyword specific to that language. Also, customer service, you need to be able to ensure that you can communicate in that language.
Carina: Now, if you go the FBA option, the good thing is Amazon can cover that. But that is something you do need to consider from a seller fulfilled point of view. There's also the packaging and labeling that you need to take into consideration. Now in the EU, there are some certain labeling requirements that are actually mandatory when it comes to certain product categories. These include food and apparel. It's really important and I'm going to be discussing this later on another slide is that you do review the legislation and do understand what are the EU requirements for this specific products that you're selling in that product category. Also, there are instructions and leaflets.
Carina: As I mentioned earlier, on most product categories and products, it's not necessarily mandatory. But you need to also think about that you want to ensure that you don't have a high returns rate. If you have a product that's more technically advanced, that often requires customers to read the instruction manual, you do want to consider translating that information also. Because to in order to reduce those returns, it really does help have explanations or have lots of different graphics to help those customers in all the different countries, speaking all different languages to ensure that they know how to install a product. For example, on a technical item. There's the localization aspect. There is no one size fits all. It's very much what item could be selling really well for you in the US. Doesn't necessarily mean that that's going to be mirrored and it's going to sell really well in the UK, or in Germany, France, Spain, for example.
Carina: Also, it's important not to assume that because your item is selling well in the US, an English speaking country, that automatically your item will sell well in the UK, an English speaking country, or that because you are speaking the same language, effectively, it's an easy one because you don't need to translate those products and you can effectively mirror the content that you're using from the US to the UK. Now, actually, it's really important to just mind all of you that when you ask with us, you may be using the same language, the UK and the US, but they can have different meanings.
Carina: For example, if I go to amazon.com and I type in pants, these other products that will appear. Effectively, long pants. I then go to the UK and I type in pants, all of a sudden, I get something completely different. Actually, I get underpants. In the UK, we don't actually call pants, pants, pants are actually called trousers. That's something really important to take into consideration when you are making those translations as well, as you could find that your products aren't being discovered, or you're not getting that right conversion partly because you haven't optimized and translated your English as well to the right country.
Carina: Other things to consider are categorization. Categories can vary across countries. You may already have your categories defined and you know exactly where your products sit within the US that might differ, and partly because of the different meaning of products. For example, there'd be a category in the UK for trousers, a category in the US for pants. Also, it's really important that you are managing your keywords. For example, I'll use another example, is that if you were selling trash bags in the US, then you would need to completely change your keyword to then sell them in the UK. Trash bags would then be called bin bags or rubbish bags. We even call them black bags. That just shows you the diverseness of when we use certain products and how we can express them so differently. It's really important to ensure that you localize that as well as the titles and content.
Carina: Also, on the electronic side of things, for example, in the UK, we have different plugs. We have a three-pin rectangular plug. In Europe, they have a two-pin round plug, and then you have a two-pin plug in the US. Three different types of plugs, and often three different types of voltage. Those are different things that you need to consider as well, that it's not just about moving one product from one country to another.
Carina: Now legislation, There are a number of things that needs to be considered from a legislation point of view. Before I do go through each of these points, it is important that you do your research and you do read about the legislation, which is specific to your products, specific to your categories, and you will also consult a lawyer. There are a number of lawyers out there that do actually specialize in Amazon and specialize in selling to Europe as well. It's good to discuss with them and ensure that you've covered all legal aspects.
Carina: Here are the things that you do need to consider on a legislation side of things. Intellectual property rights. You do need to ensure that you have all the intellectual property rights in order to be able to list those items in Europe, or sell them cross-border. You may have those rights in the US, but you need to ensure that those rights do extend into Europe. Sales territory, it may be that you have exclusive distribution rights for a brand in the US and it's doing really well for you in the US, so why not send those products to the UK.
Carina: You do need to ensure that you have rights to sell those brands within those countries, because often what you find with branded products is the brands have different exclusive distribution contracts with different companies in different countries. Often, one company might have the exclusive distribution for France, one person might have it for the US, and so forth. It's important to double check your contracts if you are selling branded products. Now, CE marking. CE marking is a mandatory conformity marketing for certain products that are sold within the European economic area. That, for example, is a marking to show the safety of toys, medical devices, and low voltage electronic equipment. It is important to check whether your products fall within the categories that require CE marking. If so, then your products would need to be assessed and approved in order to get that marking. There are companies out there. Also they are able to work with you on this as well as legal advisors that can share this information and put you in contact with certain companies that can help you on that.
Carina: Other things you need to consider are the EU consumer rights. Consumer rights can differ slightly than those in Europe than those in the US. For example, when purchasing online, in Europe, all customers are able to cancel that order and return their goods 14 days after the receipt of those items. Everybody selling online in Europe needs to respect that cancellation policy.
Carina: Also on the warranty, so in the EU, you're required by law to give customers a warranty, stating that the products you sell are free from faults and are as advertised. Standards actually exist to assess whether those products do not conform to the contract. Then if those products don't conform, the customers can then request a free repair, replacement, or refund following a sale. That warranty period can be up to two years in some countries as well. It's just important. There's a number of different consumer rights.
Carina: I'm just going to give you some examples now, the things that you do need to ensure that you take into consideration. One good thing by selling on Amazon and particularly with FBA is that Amazon are already familiar with the EU consumer rights. If you are selling FBA, you near enough have everything covered because Amazon are managing the orders on your behalf. There were also EU directives that you need to take into consideration such as the WEEE and batteries. This effectively means that if you have small electronic devices that you need to adhere to certain recycling agreements and that to ensure that items are not being disposed of, in the normal way with via trash cans, et cetera.
Carina: Also, you need to consider country specific setting laws. There are some EU laws, but there might also be some laws specific, for example, to the UK, to France, et cetera. That your products do comply. There are again, different requirements for different products, in particular the categories that are the major categories that need to comply, toys, medical devices, and certain electronics. Also, what you'll find is there are some restricted products that you won't be able to sell within the EU on Amazon.
Carina: Ensure that you have double checked before opening an account that none of your products fall within the restricted product categories. Then you need to consider logistics. Of course, you're going to be shipping those items internationally. It's often advised to work with a company that are going to ship your products door-to-door and that they can manage everything for you. Because you've also importing products, you're going to have to deal with managing the importing process, paying imports costs, customs duty. Also when importing products you do need to apply for a, what it's called is an EORI, which is a specific identification number to import products.
Carina: But if you choose the right partner to ship those products, they can walk you through the process. They can explain all the documentation you require. What you'll find is that there's a lot of information here and this information isn't here to scare you. It's just shows you that it's really, really good to partner up with some companies that can manage everything for you and take the pain away of you having to manage all these different areas and consider everything.
Carina: Also with the logistics, you need to think about storage and order handling. Do you want to fulfill the orders yourselves? If so, you need to think about where you're going to store those products and how you're going to manage those orders, finding a third-party company that can manage that for you, or will you have Amazon that can manage that via FBA? Also, there's the product returns as well. Now one thing to know is that with product returns is if you don't want Amazon to dispose of those products, and those product returns are not fit for resale, Amazon will need to return those products.
Carina: Now Amazon can't return those products to a US address. They would return those products to an address where you have the inventory that's being held or an address where your account was set up in that country. It's important that if you have products that have a higher retail price point and that it would not be cost effective for Amazon to dispose of them, because possibly you can refurbish those products, it's good to have ... you need to have a plan in place as to do you have an address that can receive those returns on your behalf? Lastly, a factor that you need to consider is sales tax.
Carina: In Europe, we have a value added tax, also known as VAT. This is inclusive. This is included in the retail prices. Unlike in the US, you pay for the goods and the sales taxes added on the retail price. This is all inclusive. What happens with sales tax is if you are holding inventory in a country within Europe, you do need to register for a VAT number. Once you have a VAT number and you're collecting VAT, you will need to then file VAT returns, declare that sales tax, and you will need to invoice for VAT.
Carina: Now, it's really important that you consult a tax advisor because there's lots of different variables involved in where you need to register, what country you register for your VAT, a company that can help you file your returns, a company that can help you with your invoicing, or a company that can manage that on your behalf, or just give you the instructions that you need and the toolkit that you need to be able to manage that yourself. That is something that's really important.
Carina: Also those VAT levels, the sales tax does vary at country level. It only varies by a few percentage points, but it does vary. It is important that you get that information as well as some products are have a reduced tax rate as well. Also there are things to consider is that there are distance threshold. It may be that you only need to be registered for VAT in the country that you're holding the stock in. Then you're able to then sell those products to, for example, you've got your holding stock in the UK, you're registered for VAT in the UK, you then sell those products to Germany. You don't necessarily need to be paying ... sorry, registered for VAT in Germany because your inventory is held in the UK. However, if you exceed that threshold, which is around the $100,000 mark, then you do need to consider being VAT registered for Germany as well. As you can see, it does get confusing. It's not very easy to explain. I'm not necessarily ... I'm not a tax advisor.
Carina: There are so many different variables involved that it is important that you consult a tax advisor that will give you the exact information so you are legally abiding by the rules within Europe. Those are all the factors to consider. If all of those factors to consider, you ensure that your products do comply, you can sell your products, you think there's opportunity for your products in Europe, you then want to decide how you're going to sell those products to Amazon, whether you're going to sell those items seller fulfilled, or FBA. Now, as I mentioned earlier, in the US, you have seller fulfilled or FBA, pretty simple.
Carina: In the UK or in Europe, there are a number of different programs that you can choose from. You could choose seller fulfilled from the US. You could be seller fulfilled from Europe. You could go FBA. With FBA, there are three different options. There's FBA, which is European Fulfillment Network, also known as EFN. There's Pan-European, which is very much a new FBA program that Amazon are very focused on and pushing a lot. There's also FBA Multi-Country Inventory, also known as MCI.
Carina: I'm going to talk about each of these seller programs. I'm going to look at the pros and the cons, the pluses and the negatives as to whether or not these programs are good for you as a business. Then hopefully, at the end of that, you'll then be able to decide the best program for your products.
Carina: Seller fulfilled from the US. Seller fulfilled from the US is where you would hold stock within the US and you would only ship the product once you've received an order. It's no different really to you selling on Amazon in the US. The pluses of that option is that it's a low cost option. You're not sending any stock in bulk to the UK or to France and Germany. You're not paying any FBA fees. You're only paying a referral fee. You don't have to pay VAT on the sale. On the downside is that there is going to be a long lead time for the customers to receive that product from the US to Europe. Your items aren't going to be Prime eligible. As you're all probably familiar with that Prime, if you're Prime eligible, you're going to see a far much higher uptake than if you're not Prime eligible.
Carina: Now, one thing to note is that despite not paying VAT on the sale, VAT is charged on import so that needs to be taken into consideration. However, you are exempt from paying those import fees on products that cost 15 pounds, or in the UK. I'm not sure it's similar amount within other countries within Europe. But we're talking about $20. This option is very much a good option for those that sell low cost products such as DVDs and is very much how a number of those sellers in the US are working to this day. The only other downside of this is it does risk a poor customer experience. For example, your items may be low cost items and effectively go through customs and should be exempt from paying taxes.
Carina: If the customs don't necessarily believe the amount that you've put, as the product is worth, they then might want to charge you VAT and fees on that import. It's not you as a company that would then be paying for it. It will then be the customer. It will be stopped in customs. The customer can only take that product out of customs when they pay the fees. Of course, that's a really negative customer experience and could impact your seller feedback as well. That's something to take into consideration and be very careful with if you do take this option.
Carina: There's then seller fulfilled from the EU. Seller fulfilled from the EU, you could ship products. You could decide to have stock of products within the UK. You could decide to hold products inventory within Germany, France, any countries that you choose to send product to. Now, with this option, you'll only be paying the referral fee. The lead time will be shorter than if you were selling from the US. Also there's the opportunity your items could be seller fulfilled prime. Seller fulfilled prime is a relatively new option. There are questions around eligibility, and it's not so easy. It's not so much as you can easily sign up for Seller Fulfilled Prime. There are certain requirements that you need to hit in order for that option to be available to you as in your performance of your account, your seller performance, the number of orders you've already fulfilled, the products, and of course the ability for you to be able to ship those items same day or next day.
Carina: With the downside of seller fulfilled from EU is that there are setup costs and overheads. If you decide to be seller fulfilled from the EU, you need to work with possibly a third-party logistics company that will cost you, or you might decide that you want to set up your own headquarters. There are costs involved in that. If you are holding inventory in a country within the EU, then you do need to be VAT registered as well. Also, as I mentioned earlier, that seller fulfilled prime is not guaranteed. Just because you want to sell Seller Fulfilled Prime doesn't mean that is going to be an option available to you.
Carina: You do have a few hoops that you need to jump through for that to happen. Then, of course FBA, FBA is the greater opportunity as in there's less risk there. You're prime eligible. You're going to probably see a far greater intake or uptake, sorry, if you were to go via this option. However, there are three different FBA options available. The first one is EFN. Now, EFN is when you ship and store products from one EU location.
Carina: Let's say that you decided that the UK was the country that you wanted to set up an account in, that you felt this would be the strongest country for you to effectively put your foundation or set up your base there. You would then have your listings set up on the UK. You could also set up your products in Germany, France, Italy, in Spain. What that would mean is that your inventory would be hold in the UK. Then if a customer places an order because the product is going to be available and showing in France, let's say, if a customer places an order from France, they'll then be able to receive the products from the UK. The item will be shipped from the UK and sent directly to the customer in France. That's great because with FBA, Amazon are fulfilling those orders. They're managing the customer service in a different language.
Carina: The only key thing to take into account with EFN is that your stock will be in one country. One pool of inventory in one country be ... the ship to a number of different countries across Europe. The pros of that is that you are paying FBA fees. Now that obviously isn't a pro to have to pay fees. But you'll find that they're typically lower than third-party logistics. Now, there are no setup fees.
Carina: For example, if we compare this to seller fulfilled, if you go seller fulfilled, there's often some setup fees involved. You're going to find that there's going to be a fast delivery in your home marketplace. When I say home marketplace that will be the country in which you've decided to hold your inventory, and also you're Prime eligible. Now, even if you've got inventory only, let's say, in the UK, and your listings, your products are available on France, Spain, and Germany, your production is still Prime eligible on in France, Spain, and Germany, even if the inventory isn't held in those countries. All that will happen from a customer experience point of view is instead of the product being available for next day, for example, the customer in Spain, if the stocks held in the UK, they may have to wait up to three days. But it's still Prime eligible, which is a really important factor.
Carina: However, the downside of going EFM is that, like we've all FBA programs, you'll have the FBA and referral fees that will apply. You also have cross-border fees. A cross-border fee can actually be sometimes about 20% more than your actual FBA fee. That's something to take into consideration is there is an additional cost there in fees in order for that item to be shipped from your home country to the country in which the other country the customers placed the order.
Carina: You do need to be VAT registered in the home country, the country in which you've held your holding inventory. There is going to be that slower delivery to EU countries. Now, I mentioned it's about three days. That isn't so slow. But take into consideration a number of countries within Europe, they offer on Prime next day delivery. The expectations are that the delivery is a lot shorter within Europe.
Carina: There is then Pan-European FBA program. The Pan-European program, as I mentioned earlier, is something that Amazon is pushing a lot more these days. It's relatively new. It's definitely an area of Amazon's focus. What it is, is with Pan-European, it means that you can send stock to one fulfillment center in the country that you choose. Amazon will then redistribute that stock based on the customer demand that they're the intelligence of their system shows. They will then be able to redistribute that product across all the different fulfillment centers in the other marketplaces, such as Italy, Germany, France, and Spain, and even they have fulfillment centers within Poland and Czech Republic as well. They would then be able to distribute those products on your behalf, which is fantastic because you then only need to ship the products to that one fulfillment center. In terms of pros, again, you'll find that the FBA fees are typically lower than a third party, if you went seller fulfilled.
Carina: The key advantage here is that your shipping product to one fulfillment center and that Amazon is distributing that inventory. That helps keeps costs down, and also that you don't have the cross-border fees as well that you have with EFN. If you were to compare Pan American to EFN, the key advantage here is the product is ... there's no cross-border fees. You are only shipping to one fulfillment center. But as a result, your products are going to be available and closer to your customers in all the different marketplaces because Amazon are redistributing that inventory. There's going to be fast delivery in all the different countries and, of course, they're prime eligible.
Carina: The only downside of this is the similar ... well, the same downsides that you have with EFN is that the FBA, you still will have to pay FBA and referral fees. Those I've put local here because depending on where the order was placed is what the fees and the referral fees that you need to pay, the FBA fees and referral fees that would need to be paid. These vary according to each country. But we're only talking about a few percentage points, so nothing that major.
Carina: The other downside is that by having inventory in every country, in every marketplace within Europe is that you're going to then need to be VAT registered in multiple countries, which can be then quite costly and timely and require a lot more resource as well. Lastly, the other FBA program that's available is the Multi-Country Inventory, also known as MCI. This is when you would ship FBA ... you would ship your products to multiple countries. Unlike Pan-European where Amazon decides where to redistribute the inventory across the different countries, this is something that you as a business would decide. Now often this is something that works well for businesses.
Carina: If your product's new to market, Amazon might not yet know about that demand. You might have plans to be focusing on certain countries that Amazon doesn't know about. This is more about question of control, and controlling where your inventory sits and in what countries. The key differences here is that you are choosing where your country holds the inventory. All the same benefits as Pan-European, apart from that control element. Anything on the downside of things is the downsides are the same, again, as Pan-European where you would be paying the FBA and referral fees for that particular country in which the item has been sold. You need to be VAT registered in multiple countries.
Carina: Also, you've got that cost of shipping to multiple EU FCs. You don't have that with the Pan-European. You're just sending one shipment to one location within a chosen country. With Multiple Country Inventory, you might decide that you want to sell in three of those countries. You then have to ship those products. If that stops coming direct from the US, you're then going to have one shipment, let's say, to the UK, another shipment to Italy, another shipment to France. That, of course, becomes quite costly.
Carina: Those are all the different programs available to you. It really does depend on your products, your business model, your needs at the time, to what program is best for you. But one thing also to highlight is that you don't necessarily need to choose one program. You could decide, for example, that you want to do Pan-European for certain products within your range.
Carina: But then the other products, which might be slower selling items, you're happy to just have EFN. You can actually mix them. Because when you decide that you want the items to go Pan-European, you actually are going to the system, you go into Seller Central, and you download a list to see what products are eligible for Pan-European, and then you flag ASIN level or items you would like to go Pan-European. You then have that choice. It's not very much one tick box. Everything goes by that program. You can mix the two as well if you'd prefer.
Carina: Now moving on, what country to start with? I'm often asked this question. There's not necessarily one answer or a country I'm going to give you. It's just more about things that you need to consider that will then apply to your products and your business. First off, it's important to opt in for the FBA export program that you have if you're an FBA seller in the US. That way, you can actually review international sales. If you're already exporting FBA from the US, you can go into your reports and download a report that shows you what your cross-border sales are. That's a great way to see if there's any opportunity, or if people, or customers are already purchasing your products from the US.
Carina: Now, just because if you download that report and you find that nobody is purchasing anything internationally, or nobody is purchasing anything internationally from Europe, that doesn't mean that there's no opportunity. They might be purchasing alternatives because they want the benefit of items being Prime eligible and next day shipping, for example. Now, UK and Germany are the largest markets, followed by France. That's something to bear in mind. Now often people think, "Okay, I'm going to go for the UK because it's easier to start with as it's English speaking." That's true. But if we remember the examples I shared with you earlier, it's not always a complete mirror of the copy that you currently have within the US. There are still some areas that we'll need translating to then make sure that they're right for the British market as well.
Carina: It's important to review the competition as well across each marketplace. It might be that you've got a product and you're looking in the UK and already that product is quite saturated, or that you've already confined so many of a similar product within the UK. But then you go to look for that item in Germany, and there's hardly any competition. That might then make Germany make more sense for you because there's less competition, higher opportunity for greater market share, and greater sales opportunity. However, something you do need to consider is if there isn't that competition, as I mentioned earlier, there might not be that competition for a reason. It's making sure that it's that competition, if it's not there, it's not there because that brand, there isn't that presence as opposed to that product isn't necessarily applicable to that country. It's also important to take into consideration product relevancy, as well.
Carina: For example, if you sell gardening products, you're probably going to want to start and sell those products to the UK. The reason being is over 50% of the populations in Spain and Germany live in apartments. You probably want to go for the UK, whereas a lot more, a higher percentage of the population live in houses where they have gardens. That just gives you an example as to making sure that you research your market before choosing the country to start with and selling to Europe in general. Also there are product specifications.
Carina: As I mentioned earlier on about the electronics, how the plugs and voltage can differ within Europe and the UK as well. It's just taking into consideration the varying product specifications.
Carina: Now another question I'm often asked and, unfortunately, I don't have a solid answer is will Brexit have an impact? Now very much at this stage, it's currently business as usual. The UK hasn't yet triggered Article 50. What that means is the UK have not formally withdrawn from the EU or stated any real confirmation that they are withdrawing 100% from the EU. That process can take a number of years and it's also unclear. At this point in time, we're not sure what will change and what will remain. It's really, as I mentioned at the start, business as usual. You can't really make many decisions based on the current situation.
Carina: But one thing to take into account is that if you are selling items, FBA, you decide to go EFN, you've got that stock sitting there in the UK, let's say, years down the line, the UK do withdraw from the EU. It doesn't go in the best of ways, and that you no longer want to sell to the UK because there's no longer free trade of goods and services across Europe. You can just sell through the FBA stock that you've got within the UK and then in future have your FBA shipments going to Germany or France, for example.
Carina: The good thing is with FBA is you're not necessarily setting your foundation there in concrete. You can move if things change as well. Getting started. I've gone through all the factors that you need to consider, the different setting programs. If still, you're sitting there thinking, "Yep, this is the opportunity. I have an idea of the seller program I want to work with. I want to sell to Europe."
Carina: Here are the eight steps that you need to in order to make that happen. First off, is deciding on the country to start with, the home marketplace. That could be as I mentioned, it might be the UK. You might be selling gardening products. UK works for you. You might not necessarily have the resource to work with translations. You're comfortable with just making a few alterations with the language to suit the UK, and so forth. First off, decide on the country that you're going to start with.
Carina: You then need to choose the Amazon Seller Program. Are you going to go seller fulfilled? Are you going to go FBA? If you are going to go FBA, have you chosen to go Pan-European, EFN, MCI, or a mix? Make sure that you review the local legislation that applies to your products and applies to your categories. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of third parties out there that you can work with that are specialized in this area that can give you all the advice that you need before you make that step.
Carina: Consult a tax advisor. Really important that you do seek tax advice. There's a lot of information out there that you can read and you can assume that you understand and know exactly whether you need to pay tax. But sometimes it is confusing. That's an area that you don't want to get wrong. Make sure that you do consult someone. Then review all the different international shipping companies. There's so many international shipping companies out there that do everything door-to-door. Door-to-door are so much easier because they come in, pick the products up, they manage the whole importing process for you. If there's certain documentation that needs to be completed by yourselves, and sometimes that documentation that the requirements can get confusing, they'll be able to walk you through that whole process and hold your hands through it or making it a lot easier than if you were to manage that yourself.
Carina: Then once you've done all of that, you know wherever you need to be registered VAT. You understand the legislation. You've decided on your seller program. You then need to open up an EU seller account. Now one thing to take into account when you open up an EU seller account is, let's say, you open up that account in the EU and you are selling in categories that require approval, such as health and personal care or beauty, you will need to request category approval for each marketplace that you're going to be selling in.
Carina: But typically, if you've got approval in one marketplace, you've already got the documentation to show all the countries that you are a legit company and if they've given you approval in one, then they're more than likely going to approve you in all the other marketplaces as well. Then once you've got your account open, you can start adding those listings, get them translated, and localized them. Amazon have a few tools that can help you. They have a build international listings tool that helps. But that typically helps if your items are already within those marketplaces. If they're not, you'll need to get those items set up yourself. But often, I always recommend making sure that you don't rely on ... if you are the brand owner of those items, is making sure that your products are set up. If they already exist in another country, making sure that they've been set up correctly.
Carina: It may be, for example, that they are listed in Germany, but they're listed in Germany in English, or very poor German that was translated on Google, for example, and not translated correctly. Amazon also offers some translation services so they have some free translation tools, but also they do offer some actual human translations, which comes at a cost, of course. But there are also, again, so many third parties out there that manage translations, and localize and help you through that whole process for each country within Europe as well. Then once you've got all your listings set up, you can then send your inventory to Europe and away you go. Checking your reports and looking out on the dashboard for those sales to start rolling in. Hopefully, that has given you all the information you need to get a greater understanding of things to consider if you wish to start selling in Europe, and also how to get started. I appreciate there's a lot of content in there. There's a lot of things to take into consideration. I've covered off everything. But if there are some elements that you have more questions about, feel free to ask those questions and I'll be able to give you more information or put you in contact with a specialist that can provide you more detail on those areas as well. Good luck to everybody and thank you.
Colleen: All right. Great. Thank you so much, Carina. That was a lot of really helpful information. We did get a few questions during the webinar. I will give Carina a few minutes just to review those questions, and then we will answer them. In the meantime, while she's taking a look at those questions, I wanted to just tell you a little bit about one of eComEngine's tools that can help you to manage your reputation on an international level. Thousands of merchants including many of you who are with us today know us through our flagship product, which is FeedbackFive. This tool has been helping Amazon merchants build their reputations since 2009.
Colleen: FeedbackFive provides personalized automated feedback and product review, solicitation requests. The email campaigns associated with FeedbackFive offer a lot of flexibility for customizing, targeting, and excluding orders from your email solicitations. Managing seller feedback and product reviews is very simple through FeedbackFive. We have alerts for negative feedback and alerts for negative product reviews, and a simplified process to contact the buyers as well. We can even match buyers to the product reviews. We'd be happy to tell you more about this tool. But I wanted to touch on the international piece, which is FeedbackFive is a global app. We have users in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the UK, all across Europe, and beyond. Obviously, not all customers in these countries speak English as their native language. If you do sell to customers outside of the US, FeedbackFive's professionally designed foreign language email templates are definitely the right choice for you. You don't need to waste time trying to remember what you learned in your eighth grade Spanish or French class, or relying on faulty online translators. As many of you probably love Google Translate as much as I do, but it's not always a perfect word-for-word translation. For something in a professional matter like your email solicitations, it's best to go with professionally translated email templates that you can trust. FeedbackFive's email templates have been professionally translated by a company called inWhatLanguage. You can definitely trust and rely on them and these templates are ready to go and all of the languages and countries that we support. If you're interested in more information on FeedbackFive or signing up for FeedbackFive or any of eComEngine's other tools, we do have a few special offers here. RestockPro is another tool that is also available outside of the US. It is available in the UK. Again, there's the 30-day free trial coupon codes. Carina is also offering a special offer for a free 30-minute consultation. I will also send all of this information out in an email along with the recording of this webinar. You'll have that at your fingertips. But I'll go ahead and turn it over back to Carina so she can answer a couple of the questions that came in.
Carina: Thank you, Colleen. Just a couple of questions here I will answer. There was one question about Brexit. Hopefully, I have answered that question. As in the question was about whether or not the exit will influence ... have any impact including the fulfillment methods, taxes, et cetera. At this stage, it's very much unknown. This process could take years. It could also ... Nothing could happen. I mean, the UK might not be impacted in any way or there could be an impact. But at this stage, it is very much business as usual.
Carina: There was also a question that was asked about how big are the markets in the EU in terms of Amazon sales revenue figures compared to the US? Now I don't have data specific here in front of me. But the biggest markets, as I mentioned earlier, are the UK and Germany. If you're thinking if you want to tap the biggest markets go for those two countries first, followed by France. This is very much also in order of the countries that they were launched. UK and Germany were launched together at the same time, followed by France, and then Spain, and Italy at a later date. You think of it really as in the potential of the different countries in EU, bundle them together and think that there's a similar opportunity if EU as a whole compared to the US as well. But what you'll find is that there are countries within Europe that are a bit smaller markets at this point in time, let's say, Spain and Italy, partly because the whole online experience was not as ... did not take off as quick as it did, let's say, in the UK and Germany. But those are very much growing markets. They are really moving forward. The online shopping experience is growing within those markets as well. It's also to take into consideration the growing opportunity available in the EU as well.
Carina: There's also a couple of questions about on the tax side of things. We do have ... There are a number of companies out there that can provide that tax, the advice when it comes to being VAT registered and the distance setting thresholds. The information that I shared with you was basic information. Not the actual distance setting thresholds which vary country to country. We have your email address, and we can share more information on that to make sure that everything is clear and you have a solid understanding with all of that. Any further questions, there are companies out there that can support you with those questions. There's one other ... Sorry. I've just seen some questions come out at me. I noticed there's one more question that was with regards to RestockPro, and has this now changed and is it no longer supported within Amazon US? Colleen, is that a question you'd like to take? Would you like me to answer that?
Colleen: Oh, sure. Yeah, so RestockPro is definitely available in the UK as well as the US. Those are the two major marketplaces that RestockPro supports at this time. Yep. Okay. Brilliant. We just had a couple more questions come in here in the last couple minutes. There's one here, Carina, about how long does it take for Amazon to verify our accounts? Do you know the answer to that one?
Carina: As in verify to open accounts, don't have the specific exact timelines. I mean, I've had accounts opened in Europe and it's taken a couple of days. It's taken up to a week. It's really down to ensuring that you have the right documentation that Amazon require in order to open that account. If you aren't able to give that exact documentation, there could be some back and forth. Of course, with back and forth every time you respond, you may have to wait another 24 to 48 hours before then they're able to come back to you. It's really important when you are getting your account set up is making sure that you have all the correct documentation when you initially open the account, and they will be able to provide that information as to what you require. You can get that approved in one go and avoid any back and forth as well. Also in terms of costs, there's a question that's come in about FBA costs in Europe, and do these vary slightly with the US? There are. All that information, the FBA costs vary slightly across country. All that information is available and we can email you a link to the exact page that has all the different FBA pricing available as well, which is very much down to on a shipment basis. We can share all of that information with you. There's a number of other questions that have come in. But I see that we're now at time. It's now 11:00. I do have all these questions here in front of me. I will make sure that I do answer all your questions. We have your email address. I will get back to you with more information. Any of those questions require more specialist information, then I will be sure to put you in contact with companies that will be able to assist further.
Colleen: That sounds good. Well, thank you so much, Carina. On behalf of eComEngine and eCommerce Nurse, we thank you all for joining us today. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We wish you all the best with your business. Have a great day.
Carina: Thank you.
Originally published on October 28, 2016, updated August 20, 2020
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.